Two first-time brothers looking for advice.

I’m from Utah, riding with my brother who lives in Des Moines (also his first time).

As of right now, we have arrangements to be dropped off in Council Bluffs and picked up in Keokuk. However, beyond that, our plans a pretty sketchy. My biggest question is how the camping thing works. Do we need to have a tent that fits in the 50 lb limit, or is that extra?

I hear charters are pretty expensive, so that really isn’t an option.

What about food? Are their meals set up for RAGBRAI riders?

I’m brand new at this, and don’t know what to expect.

Does anyone know of a military veteran group, we can affiliate with as I’m a retired Air Force Master Sergeant?

12 Replies

Ashley Albers, May 1, 2019 at 1:02 pm

The Air Force Cycling team is one of my favorite things about RAGBRAI! They are all over and so helpful to riders of all experience levels. Check out their team here https://afcycling.com/join-the-team/

I ride with my sisters and my parents haul our camper so I’m not much help on your camping questions. There are food vendors set up in every town that you pass through and every church in every over night town offers a great home made meal at a reasonable price as a fundraiser. Good luck!!

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Dueywife, May 1, 2019 at 2:14 pm

For the camping, the ride includes space in the official campground. There is a 50 lb limit (per person) on the luggage this includes your tent. You may want to consider sharing a tent with your brother, giving you a bit more “weight” in the other bag for other necessities. Pack light and plan to do a load of laundry mid-week at a laundromat to keep your weight down.

As for food, there is an abundance of food along the route, in the pass-through towns, and at the evening town. I liken RAGBRAI to a rolling county fair with all of the food vendors. I would plan on spending ~$50/day on food and beverages (it is not included with the ride). There will be water fill stations in each pass through town, generally they are along the route out of town/by the fire station. I gain 5lbs every year on the ride. No joke!

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Charlie S, May 1, 2019 at 2:35 pm

Congrats and welcome to RAGBRAI. I lost my RAGBRAI virgin status (I’m sure someone will fill you in on this unique element) a couple of years ago but had many of the same questions as you before my first ride.

As Ashley indicates, the AF Cycling Team are ubiquitous at RAGBRAI and much appreciated by all riders. I’m an Army vet myself, so always swap some stories with the (mostly) younger AF brethren I’m riding alongside.

As far as camping, your RABRAI entry fee allows you to stay in the general campgrounds (aka, camping with the masses) and the daily ferrying of your gear on the Register semis. The 50 lb limit is for your gear in total, including tent. Mostly because of this limitation, I’ve always used a charter.

There are quite a few charter services ranging from pretty basic and inexpensive to rather expensive glamping-level (setting up a tent for you, picking up your bags each day, gourmet meals, shower trailers, a/c rooms, etc) services. Nearly all of the charter services at all levels of service get good reviews. I’ve only used one: Riverbend Bicycle Club (aka Argo) and give them an unqualified thumbs up.

RBBC charges only $190 for their basic week-long support. They always have large shade tents set up, with plenty of chairs and cold beverages at the end of each day. All of the campsites have been great, most with decent shade, within easy walking distance to toilets (Kybo’s in RAGBRAI-speak) and showers. They also have a charging station, tire pumps, basic bike tools and coffee. The RBBC group is usually pretty small, less than 100, so no problems in finding a spot to pitch your tent.

RBBC, like most charters, allows two bags limited to 50 lbs each (a couple have a 30 lb per bag limit.) It’s actually not hard to keep your total, including tent, to 50 lbs, but it’s hard (and annoying) to put everything in one bag. Having two bags is a godsend if (more like when) it rains. Just think of how much it must such to pack up a wet tent, fly and footprint in the same bag with your dry clothes – which is what you have to do for the Register semi (technically, your tent can be bungeed to your bag, but this seems to me to be a recipe for disater). Much better IMO to have your clothes stay dry in their own separate waterproof bag and deal with a wet tent on its own. As I mentioned, there are a lot of charters to choose from, and I’m sure one of them will work for you.

As far as food, some charters like Pork Belly, have their own catering. That’s not much of a plus as there are plenty of food options. I often opt for church suppers, and always seek out the church ladies offering their homemade pies along the route. Also not to be missed is Mr Pork Chop. Definitely not to be missed, though only vaguely food-related, are the the Iowa Craft Brewers Assoc beer tents – two set up along each day’s route. I really look forward to what for me is mandatory stop for good craft beer twice each day.

Hope this helps, but feel free to PM me if you’d like more info. By the way, I spend a couple of weeks in Utah every winter – best skiing in North America! See you in July and ride safe.

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jwsknk, May 1, 2019 at 2:51 pm

I always keep the clean cloths in dry bags I got at the local camping store (Jax in Ames) With the Skunks we can have 2 bags. One is tent, fly, ground cloth, poles and mattress (It goes in a garbage bag first). The other is cloths, I take 4 sets which means rinsing the first 3 days. Some people put each set in a zip-lock bag, I just put the jerseys in one, shorts in one, arm and leg warmers in one with light fingered gloves and skull cap (you never know when we will have that cool night or cold rainy day), and the nighttime stuff goes in one.
I never take out more than I have to at night, and no matter how warm it is put the rain fly on. Have seen many pop-up storms hit the campgrounds and people have everything the brought get soaked.

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hnschipper, May 3, 2019 at 10:14 am

We made the mistake of not putting our rain fly on the tent in Marshalltown, and we went and ate and then went to a movie. Not a cloud in the sky. Remember what happened in Marshalltown? Yeah, we’ll never make that mistake again. Fortunately, our camping neighbors saw there was no fly on our tents, and they put the flys on for us, but it was already raining at that point and things were damp. So moral of my story is: no matter how clear the sky looks, always put the rain fly on.

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Chris, May 3, 2019 at 11:17 am

Marshalltown: The only difference between a tent with a rain fly and one without was the one with a rain fly had a smaller swimming pool in it.

That was one bonkers night in an over-the top year. 🙂

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Linda Wiard-Bauer, May 3, 2019 at 6:17 pm

If you can afford to spend the BIG BUCKS, go with a charter. If you are trying to save money, it is FINE going with the RAGBRAI truck to schlep your bag, and the Main campground to camp in. I did it the inexpensive way 2 years ago and it WAS FINE! I am doing it again this year with my husband. I enjoyed it and met great people!

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KenH, May 3, 2019 at 9:50 pm

Charters come in a range of price points so check them out before writing that option off as too expensive. I used the Riverbend club one year and I agree that they do a great job at an affordable price! A lot of people report having a good experience with the Register truck and campground however so I think you’d be in good hands there too. Between you and your brother you can share some things to make the weight limit easier to comply with. I had 75 pounds in two bags the year I went with Riverbend. Next time it’ll be 60, tops! The details between the start and end are always a bit sketchy for all of us, that’s where the magic happens!

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bmyoungberg, May 3, 2019 at 9:57 pm

Save the $$ and use the free truck. I use a variety of waterproof totes for everything. I then have it all in a large wheeled hockey bag (Amazon) so easy to move. I wash a couple of things during week, but you can rewear clothes in evening.

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Michrider !!!, May 4, 2019 at 11:04 am

I’ve said this before but my favorite Charter is Pork Belly Ventures (PBV}. Not the cheapest just the best!!! https://pkbelly.com
BTW, RAGBRAI don’t care!!!

This reply was modified 8 months, 3 weeks ago by  Michrider !!!.

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Roy Trent, May 26, 2019 at 1:32 pm

I rode with a group of guys yesterday in an Ohio Ride 2 Recovery Honor Ride who work with vets and use cycling as a tool. The group is “Team RWB” – Red White and Blue. There are branches all over the country and they are planning to do Ragbrai this year. Currently, they have about 30 riders and are fully self supported. I think you can reach out to them on the forum and they will contact you.

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Juan Gaytan, May 26, 2019 at 9:55 pm

How do i find this RBBC SHUTTLE ,also if i want to take a day off the bike can i travel to the next town with the shuttle thank you

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