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What is the issue around town shut down times?

I read in the letter from Matt Phippen that the biggest concern he has heard on his first week on the job is town shut down times. For someone like me who starts early and ends early each day, how big of an issue is this?

53 Replies

Uncle Kraig, January 17, 2022 at 1:31 pm

That is a good question and I too am curious to see some productive dialogue and feedback on the question / issue. My gut tells me it is a very vocal minority of riders but I could be wrong, again :)


LawnchairMan, January 17, 2022 at 2:32 pm

This issue was brought up five months ago in a thread called, ”
Iowa State Patrol closing towns down early…again”.

Apparently, the state police have been shutting down services thirty minutes before the official Ragbrai time. I think the best suggestion was from stevecycles200: stop serving beer an hour ahead, then the music 30 minutes after that, but leave the water and basic food.
I know we owe the state troopers for the safety they provide, but how hard is it for Mr. Phippen to coordinate the posted shut-off times? Why is that such a big concern? Mr. Phippen could just ask the state police to shut down towns half an hour later than official times. Then if the police jump the gun, everyone would be on the same time.


hnschipper, January 17, 2022 at 4:11 pm

I normally don’t have any issue with cut off times. In 2019, the last day was a long last day. (62 miles – longer than normal.) Because it was the last day, the town shut down times were earlier than normal. I am not a fast rider. My brother and I were in Montrose (almost to Keokuk) when the cutoff time hit. The only place we could find in town to get anything to eat/drink was Caseys. Until the State Troopers came in to tell Caseys not to sell to RAGBRAI riders so they would keep moving along. Fortunately, we made it through the checkout line before this and we’re able to buy what we needed. I don’t know if riders behind us were so fortunate.

I get having cutoff times to keep riders moving along. I don’t het having early cutoff times on the last day when the mileage is just as long as most other days. I don’t understand how the State Patrol can walk into a privately owned business and tell them not to seek anything to RAGBRAI riders.


Chris, January 17, 2022 at 9:12 pm

To echo what Uncle Craig said: I suspect this is a vocal minority. The end of service times are very well noted in the rider guide for each day.

That doesn’t account for RAGBRAI screwing up, though. In 2019, the last day was a long day. If I remember correctly, Day 7 was supposed to be 62 miles, but we had 80 on our computer before we were done with the day. While the “double dip” concept was neat, it made for a very long ride down the river before the day was over with a nasty little dig of a hill right at the end.
The length of that day did play havoc with the last few times and cutoffs; RAGBRAI should have been more careful with the length and modified the close times to match. They didn’t that time. C’est La Vie. They still get it right way more than they get it wrong :)

The State Patrol can’t legally walk into a private business and tell them not to sell to a select group of people. They could close the place entirely, but not selectively. Though the troopers knew their request had no legal standing, it probably did serve the purpose of getting people moving along and not loitering there. I was not there: I doubt that Casey’s actually refused service to anyone who was in need of a bottle of water. They might have asked someone who was hanging out in there for the air conditioning to keep on going, though.

See You in July,


Larry Klaaren, January 18, 2022 at 11:12 am

According to RAGBRAI the towns are shut down sequentially so the ride and services end in the host town at 6 pm. The Highway Patron assigned to RAGBRAI and the medical teams are paid by RAGBRAI for a twelve hour shift. A longer day would require hiring a second shift of those personnel, which would incur higher registration costs for all the riders among other consequences.


Jason Kuehnhold, January 18, 2022 at 1:10 pm

I’ve participated in 8 RAGBRAI’s, 6 of them all the way across Iowa. I’ve never been in situation where the towns shut down as early as they did in 2021. The frustrating part for me was Day 1. I brought my 12 year old daughter with me and we got caught behind the curve of the shut down’s. I didn’t feel like the model dad when I told her that we were going to respectfully disobey the officers that were doing their job and that we were going to sit in the shade and wait for the store to open back up so we could restock/rehydrate with water. Day 1 was such a hot day, and the hill out of Cherokee did few favors anyone! LOL!

The rest of the week was the same as Day 1, seemed like we were right behind the shutdown curve. The troopers would pass us on the road, and when we arrived into town they were shutting it down. Once you get behind the curve you can’t get ahead of it.

Bare minimum, water should always be available for purchase in towns.


LawnchairMan, January 18, 2022 at 3:50 pm

I discovered that the end of service times are not posted in my packets from past rides. Are they posted on the laminated route slips that were held together by a metal ring? Are they only on the online route maps? I was thinking that later riders could take something to show the state troopers the official times.

When I suggested that the police be told to shut down towns a half-hour later than official times I didn’t mean at the overnight towns. I am a little confused about the meaning of services ending in the host towns at 6 PM. Are there services besides police support and SAG that stop at that time? I assume that all vendors are open in the overnight towns for as long as they want. Am I missing something?

This reply was modified 8 months, 2 weeks ago by LawnchairMan.

This reply was modified 8 months, 2 weeks ago by LawnchairMan.


KenH, January 20, 2022 at 8:17 am

RAGBRAI is a vacation for most riders. Some rise and finish early (that is my preference) others party late, rise late, and finish late. I don’t know if they are a minority or not. There is a balancing act between the needs of the riders, the towns, and the police that requires that compromises be made. Those who feel that the current compromise does not serve their needs certainly have a right to express their opinions. If, as has been reported, the police are shutting down services early then that is a breach of faith with the riders and that should be stopped.

There is at least one day each year when the services cutoffs should be extended, in my not always so humble opinion, and that day is Karras loop day. During one recent year the loop had stretched to 120 miles and many folks were struggling to keep to the cutoff time schedule. It is borderline criminal to deny them basic food services but that is what was done. Extending the cutoff times and hiring a second shift (how about two 7 hour shits instead of one 12 hour shift?) for one day would be a reasonable compromise that would have a minimal impact on the registration fee.


jeffreydennis, January 21, 2022 at 8:12 pm

Last year was the first time I ever got the boot. I was hurting that day. Not hung over, not drinking, just hurting.


Neu112, January 21, 2022 at 8:34 pm

In 2019 my friend and I somehow got behind the cutoffs around the meeting town stop. We left around 6:30 that morning. Once you get behind it’s nearly impossible to get ahead. I know if my friend could have gotten on a sag at the 3/4 mark she would have but we never saw any. This was my 7th RAGBRAI and the first time this had ever happened. I understand the alcohol and bands shutting off but water should be available.


LawnchairMan, January 23, 2022 at 12:13 am

I had never thought about planning for a setback that would put me behind the shutdown times. Perhaps we should aim to finish each day by four so we have time for an unforeseen problem.`

Neu112, you started early enough. Could you tell me what put you behind? Was it a mechanical problem? I have had a few bike issues myself, but deep down I fear a major problem happening in the middle of the day. That’s one reason I start early and don’t spend much time in any one place until I finish. Whatever it was, I hope you can find a way to avoid the cutoff problem in the future.


Danny Edens, January 23, 2022 at 10:48 pm

The Iowa State Parol has become more and more extreme these last few years. Shutting down early is not uncommon. I have the most respect for law enforcement but last year being under the affects of heat exhaustion and not realizing it til quite a long while. I almost said a few choice words to ISP but I choose to remand silent while laying on a lawn in bad shape. A local towns person said those choice words for me, and I don’t blame them one bit. Being that it’s the most money towns see in years Shutting down alcohol and bands makes perfect sense. But quitting food and especially water is ludicrous insane and down right dangerous. Closing gas stations when they have the right to sell 24/7 365 is crazy as well again shutting alcohol if there is a way makes great sense. And yes they will refuse to sell that bottle water to that elderly rider or sell that much needed candy bar to that diabetic. It’s a moral liability.


Joseph Schlau, January 24, 2022 at 2:46 pm

One week ago Matt Phippen the new Director of Operations, RAGBRAI posted the following;

The one concern that I’ve heard over and over again are your frustrations around the shut down times from town to town. I want you to know that it was a topic of discussion during my first meeting with the Iowa State Patrol and we are both committed to working together to improve this for the riders and the communities with safety as our number one priority. I will share our plans as we get closer to the ride.
I am looking forward to meeting you all and hope that will be at our Route Announcement Party on Friday, January 28th at Hy-Vee Hall.

Maybe wait for an answer.


kennethfblue, January 24, 2022 at 6:03 pm

I have ridden 9 ragbrais and last year was the first time i was confronted with early shutdowns. I usually do the karras loop and last year arrived at the karras patch handout location a little before shutdown. the thing i found most annoying was the police shut the place down and couldn’t get any hydration either alcoholic or non alcoholic after riding the loop late in the afternoon (for me it was 117 mile day) and not seeing any refreshment stop along the way on the loop. did manage to find a water spigot and got some water after police closed the location. this is a problem when the loop is near the end of the daily ride instead of the middle of the daily ride. as far as the other early shutdowns i experienced last year. no big deal just couldn’t get food.


LawnchairMan, January 26, 2022 at 12:56 am

One of the things I learned from my local bike club is to take energy gel and a trail bar on our rides. I rarely need them at Ragbrai, but I still take them for unforeseen problems or for other riders. I usually carry 40 ounces of water in a 70 ounce Camelbak bladder. If I thought I might be riding close to cutoff times, I would make sure I had extra snacks and a full Camelbak. Extra water might not be an option for some, but snacks don’t weigh much or take much room. Energy gel might give me the extra boost to get me to the next town before shutdown. Just food for thought.

This reply was modified 8 months, 1 week ago by LawnchairMan.


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