Registration for Great Iowa Fall Ride Open!

RAGBRAI's a wrap

  • 7 September, 2017

For many reasons, 2017 RAGBRAI will go down as one of the best ever.  Weather had a lot to do with that.  The route had a little bit of everything; hills, flats, scenic views.  To wrap things up officially for RAGBRAI XLV, the staff would like to send out our thanks to everyone who participated this year, whether you rode some or all of the route, provided support, served as a volunteer, or were a vendor along the way.  Thank you for making 2017 such a great year!

Another thank you goes out to those 3,615 who took the time to provide us with some feedback through the Rider and Driver surveys.  We appreciate this information so we can pass along ideas to the planning committees for RAGBRAI XLVI.  We can’t implement all ideas, but there are always changes we can make to improve the experience for everyone.  Here is a summary of what we found out from the surveys:


  • Of those who rode the gravel loop, over 70% took a sticker and patch as keepsakes. Those who took just one of the two prefer the patch.
  • In the past 8 months:
    43.7% of respondents purchased RAGBRAI merchandise at the merchandise trailers (up from the year before)
    29% purchased RAGBRAI merchandise through registration (same as the year before)
    11.6% purchased RAGBRAI merchandise at a bike shop retailer on the ride (a little down from the year before)
    17.2% purchased RAGBRAI merchandise through the webstore (up from the year before)
    2.5% purchased RAGBRAI merchandise at a retailer prior to RAGBRAI (same as the year before)
    24.5% did not purchase any RAGBRAI merchandise (same as the year before)
  • 16% of respondents purchased a new bike before RAGBRAI
    60% purchased new bicycle equipment or accessories prior to RAGBRAI
    34% did not purchase any prior to RAGBRAI
  • 53% purchased their new bike/equipment/accessories from a local bike shop
    16% purchased online
    4% at a local sporting goods store
    27.4% did not purchase new bike/equipment/accessories


  • Healthier food options
  • Improved shuttle service – better signage and organization at shuttle stops. Don’t use same line for different routes.
  • More prominent signage for water bottle filling (overnight and pass-thru towns both)
  • Get rid of pace lines, unregistered riders, and riders with loud music.
  • More local food vendors, saw same commercial vendors all week.
  • Coffee in the campgrounds in the morning
  • Don’t shut down food vendors in pass through towns, just alcohol. Couldn’t get food in some towns, and the water fill stations should not be shut down.
  • Town maps with street names – to find food vendors and host homes
  • Have riders complete a safety training course with registration – too many riding left of center
  • Church meals that serve until 8:00 pm
  • Food options in campgrounds
  • Petting zoos
  • Treat pop-up campers more like tent camping than RV (no generators)


  1. Erratic or unpredictable riding
  2. Communication or signaling intent
  3. Pace lines
  4. Vehicle traffic on the route

Another main concern was slower and inexperienced riders riding too far to the left. Many respondents suggested we implement some sort of safety training as part of registration.


  • 30% of respondents were first time riders
  • 71.5% rode the full 411 miles of the ride
  • Just over 6% rode the Gravel Loop through Sutherland
  • 29.5% rode the Karras Loop through Plover
  • Over 55% used the bike license plate
    24.6% weren’t interested in using the license plate
    The rest did not know what it was
  • 91.6% of respondents are on the road before 8am. 63% like to start their day before 7am.
  • Almost 9% like to arrive in the overnight town before noon. 6% like to arrive between noon-4pm.
  • Nearly 70% of riders spend $25-$50 per day on RAGBRAI.
  • 38.3% prefer to eat breakfast in the first pass-through town
    24% eat on the route before the first pass-through town
    20.7% eat before leaving the overnight town
    13.6% eat after the pass-through town
    Over 3% don’t realize that breakfast is the most important meal of the day!
  • 4% are vegetarian, less than 3% eat only gluten-free foods.
    40% might eat a vegetarian or gluten free meal option; 52% would never.
  • Shade and being close to showers are the most important features of campgrounds.
  • Training miles were across the board; ranging from 250-1000 miles. Over 30% of respondents said they put in over 1000 training miles.
  • About 37.4% of riders used personal support vehicles to carry their bags, up from last year
    30.5% used a RAGBRAI charter, up a little from last year
    19% traveled with a large group, down a little from last year
    9% used the RAGBRAI Baggage Truck
    1% carried their own bags
  • Here is a breakdown of rider age:
    19 and under ……………… 4%
    20-24 ……………………….. 3.0%
    25-29 ……………………….. 5.3%
    30-34 ……………………….. 6.3%
    35-39 ……………………….. 6.9%
    40-44 ……………………….. 7.2%
    45-49 ……………………….. 10.0%
    50-54 ……………………….. 14.4%
    55-59 ……………………….. 16.6%
    60-64 ……………………….. 13.7%
    65-69 ……………………….. 7.8%
    70-74 ……………………….. 3.1%
    75-79 ……………………….. 0.9%
    Over 80 …………………….. 0.2%


  • 39% were driving support for the first time. This is slightly down from last year.  A good sign that more support drivers are returning year to year.
  • 68% prefer to leave between 6:00-8:00 A.M, slightly higher than last year.
  • 50% of support drivers spend on average $25-$50 per day including fuel and supplies
    45.5% prefer to purchase supplies in town once they arrive
    34.5% in a town along the route
    20% before leaving town
  • 44% of respondents drove a personal vehicle (up from last year)
    42% of respondents drove an RV or pulled a camper
  • 42.6% of respondents are from the state of Iowa, 11.7% from Illinois (the next highest).
  • 52% of respondents are male
  • 34.6% of respondents are 55-64 years old; 23% were over 65 years old.
  • 23% purchased the new RAGBRAI Support Driver t-shirt.


  • An overview of how the host town maps are set up (the icons used and symbols for RV camping)
  • Safety meeting to start later because they couldn’t get to town on time – provide a summary of this information.


  • Have porta-pots and some food options in support vehicle parking area in meeting town.
  • Place parking in meeting town closer to the event area in town.
  • Traffic control at major intersections of vehicle route to help direct traffic through (four-way stop)
  • Better campground maps showing areas for smaller groups (10 or so)
  • Lots of road construction on vehicle route this year – notify drivers ahead of time.
  • Clearer instructions for RV camping
  • Maps were helpful, use a neon green color for vehicle route sign for more visibility.
  • Some respondents suggested that more arrow signs before the turn would have been helpful.

Thank you again for making RAGBRAI the great event that it is.  We hope to see you July 22-28, 2018 for RAGBRAI XLVI.  Here are some other important dates to remember:

  • Registration opens November 15, 2017
  • RAGBRAI Route Announcement Party and Iowa Bike Expo is Saturday, January 27, 2018
  • Weeklong Rider Registration closes April 1, 2018
  • PIGTAILS Ride is May 19, 2018
  • BACoon Ride Five is June 16, 2018
  • 2018 RAGBRAI Expo is July 21, 2018



For information on RAGBRAI, visit or contact us at or 515-284-8341.


  1. Tracy inman

    Sorry I missed the survey. We were 1st time riders, my friend and I along with our 13 year old daughters and my son,18 ride the whole week and I can say my friend and I loved it! And will definitely be back for another year of riding. Writing. As for the girls they were pretty bored after we got to the host towns, we would go downtown not really much for people under the drinking age to do or entertainment .

  2. annecwelty

    I read through the comments left by riders above and as a veteran rider feel that there is a fine line between over-regulating people’s behavior on this ride versus perfecting it for everyone. The comment about banning loud music is stunning to me. This is one of the reasons I ride and is a huge motivator when the riding gets tough. Getting rid of pace lines and unregistered riders also serves to over-regulate the ride. Only a small number of people ride in these formations and many are associated with teams or the military. Who’s going to police this? I’m not. That’s not why I ride. Unregistered riders will always be there. People who slip in for a day or two…do I care? No. I’m not going to police that either and don’t want someone coming around inspecting everyone’s bikes and wrists. Ragbrai is beautiful because of the LACK of restrictions on what people are doing. Call it organized chaos or adult camp, it just plain fun. Some riders could use some safety education and that could be mandatory for first-time participants. After that, they should know how to ride. My advice to the Ragbrai committee is to be careful how many more requirements and restrictions are placed on people and to remember why people ride it in the first place. Reasonable safety education first, then fun, and leave the rest alone!

  3. Kenbaker

    I agree, don’t get too carried away with the complaints of a few. I too enjoy the music…I don’t play music myself but wait to hear it from others. The only think I am definitely against are riders with ear plugs in, particularly in their left ears.

  4. Tom Vermeersch

    Agree with the above comments about doing too much for minor annoyances.

  5. Steve Powell

    I agree with Ann. Not However, a newer problem this year was “double wide pace lines”. They are very dangerous and should be discouraged. Many near accidents around them this year…..

  6. Beth

    This was my 4th RAGBRAI. I completely agree with Anne. Do not regulate it any more than it is. I already saw a large difference between the Riders this year and the riders in 2013 which is the last one I did prior to this. I must say this ride was not nearly as much fun as the prior three that I did. I truly feel this is due to a completely different set of riders that are now attending Ragbrai. Most likely due to social media awareness

  7. Tom McGaffey

    I would be interested in seeing the following:
    On the registration form, an informal (optional) survey about the types of bikes, trikes, etc, that people are going to ride.
    As a trike, I’d be interested to see how many trikes, recumbent trikes, recumbent bikes, tandem, etc, are riding out there.

    Also, as a safety factor, and JUST along the route, maybe the DM Register, along with the IA DOT, could maybe paint the rumbles a color that stands out.
    Maybe a yellow, red or white.
    The RUMBLE signs are not enough, and it may prevent some accidents and at the least some inconvenience.

  8. Rich Cerwinski

    Rich…..First time rider this year, did the entire ride. Couldn’t agree more with Ann above. I did not have music but enjoyed listening to it when it passed. Pace lines were not dangerous per say but the way too many slow riders on the left added uncertainty to what they were going to do. Do not over regulate, the ride is about having fun and should not be dictated on how to have that fun. I drove all the way from Richmond VA to ride and plan on doing it next year as long as it’s kept simple. Thanks for putting on such a great experience.


    I was very disappointed in Charles City that the RAGBRAI organizers (either city organizers or overall RAGBRAI organizers) or the State liquor control people went to the local bar owners and intimidated the bars into staying closed while riders were in town. I could see this happening so as to draw/push people to the beer tents, in the park. However I for one enjoy visiting with one local bar in each town to “meet the locals” I have always made it a point to have one beer in each local town I go to on a bike ride. I asked around about this and everyone pointed at someone else for this action in Charles City. Some say this was done to control under age drinking. I took notice of this and found no more (or less) underage drinking in Charles City than in any other overnight town on the rest of RAGBRAI. I don’t know, for sure, that you guys did it or not, but I know you can or could find out who did and you should stop it. It was not fair nor right to the bar owners in Charles City.
    Nor was it fair to the riders!

  10. Alison Pomerantz

    I am a displaced Iowan who finally rode RAGBRAI for the first time. I loved it! My parents have hosted riders on several occasions, but I wasn’t sure it would be something I wanted to do for a week of my summer. Compliments to all the organizers for an amazing time. The ride renewed pride in my state and the graciousness of all cyclists along the route. I agree that the main safety hazards involved erradic maneuvers around rumblers or communicating moves. The pace lines were startling to me too. Otherwise, it was a fun time and I hope to do it again next year!

  11. ttenhula

    Do not over regulate the ride. I am not a pace line fan, but the current level is acceptable. I am not a music player, but i did enjoy someone else’s music at times, and at other times thought the taste is music was not so great and rode on past.
    Biggest issue for me is safety and multiple slower riders, next to one another, left of center, being inadvertently insensitive to the problem they cause. I wonder if RAGBRAI could develop some kind of standard positive communication to make them aware without a confrontation. ie “Rider Needs Space”, “Passing Space”, “Passing, Right Please”etc.

  12. Madalene Mohawk

    I agree – I liked the music! And it was so temporary, so even if I didn’t like someone else’s music, it wasn’t that long that I was listening to it. Definitely second the request for healthier/vegetarian eating options and more petting zoos. There’s no need to police unregistered riders, the more important thing is learning the different calls to make as you pass or see a change in the path (rumble strips, car back, car up, etc). This could be a simple sheet in the registration package so that new riders get used to communicating on the route.

  13. TJ Juskiewicz

    Jeff – please do not spread false information! No one (not RAGBRAI or Charles City RAGBRAI) asked any bar in Charles City to not open. The local committee even promoted the establishments leading up to RAGBRAI and encouraged all restaurants and bars to be open. The state did not encourage closing either. They simple state that Iowa laws will be followed. This was the choice of the bar owner not to open on RAGBRAI and not welcome RAGBRAIers to their establish. Don’t put the blame on RAGBRAI, Chalres City RAGBRAI or the state as it is not true.

    I was very disappointed in Charles City that the RAGBRAI organizers (either city organizers or overall RAGBRAI organizers) or the State liquor control people went to the local bar owners and intimidated the bars into staying closed while riders were in town. I could see this happening so as to draw/push people to the beer tents, in the park. However I for one enjoy visiting with one local bar in each town to “meet the locals” I have always made it a point to have one beer in each local town I go to on a bike ride. I asked around about this and everyone pointed at someone else for this action in Charles City. Some say this was done to control under age drinking. I took notice of this and found no more (or less) underage drinking in Charles City than in any other overnight town on the rest of RAGBRAI. I don’t know, for sure, that you guys did it or not, but I know you can or could find out who did and you should stop it. It was not fair nor right to the bar owners in Charles City.
    Nor was it fair to the riders!

  14. Scott Queckboerner

    I have reviewed some of the comments, I agree with the statement on more needs to be done on
    RUMBLES going forward. I have seen first hand accidents or flat tires related to RUMBLES.
    This should be 1# focus for RAGBRAI to improve safety of riders and reduce accidents. I can’t believe
    some type of solution to this issue can’t be developed. Just need to make it a priority for future rides.

  15. Kelly P

    I agree verbatim with Anne, so be careful not to overregulate. I played loud music this year and met more wonderful people than ever in 9 years of riding! Yes, we could use healthier foods. Yes, beginners need more safety advise. BIG shout out to the First Aid guy. I crashed 2nd day & left a lot of shoulder meat on the road. Stopped at an ambulance in the next town—all they had was alcohol swabs!! Seriously??? YEEEEOOOOWW! The First Aid guy was further down the road, with a canopy& chairs set up, FILLED WITH INJURED CYCLISTS!! He took EXCELLENT, FAST care of my exposed meat. I looked for him every day after that; he was always full and jumping. RAGBRAI is wonderfully origianl and should be left alone (except to increase healthier foods). My favorite week of the year, music, unregistered riders, pace lines and all!

  16. Gail Fischetti

    I agree with the above comments about over policing–the music is fun, the costumes, all that is part of RAGBRAI.
    Yes to a guideline in packet for newbies– I had to pick up on the “lingo” of riding as I went along. We also don’t know about being too far left, or what a pace line is.
    Also was first time as support vehicle–a huge RV first time driver. Liked suggestion of later meeting time and at least a summary of support vehicle meeting–we couldn’t make it in time for the meeting.
    I know it would be a lot more work, but if there could be a more detailed packet for support vehicles and separate parts for RV vs tent campers. I spent hours trying to figure out from the links to the town maps and contacting the towns directly where to park my RV and if I had hook ups, where to fill water, and the dump stations. I worked on this when I could , but frustrated, I emailed a RAGBRAI assistant the week before asking if there was an easier way to do this and her response was don’t bother the towns -they are very busy this week. Seriously?? I was so glad I did “bother” the Cresco chamber of commerce as the they contacted the man in charge of the campground there. He called me! So helpful- thank you Tom Barns – and how would I have ever known that by contacting him I could get a reserved campsite with full hook up!!! There was no information about that in any link I had.
    Also yes- the route maps for support need to have the local street names too. Very confusing getting out of Charles City. Map said one way, helpers told us another way–we literally saw support vehicles going in 2 different directions, and we ended up in a third.
    Anyway all in all we had a blast! All the volunteers in each town -thank you– you were great!

  17. mootsman

    Even when the music played by riders isn’t my usual genera I enjoy the fun atmosphere it creates. Pace-lines are easy to deal with when you use a rear view mirror to see them approaching.

    For safety maybe some online mini-course with an online quiz would serve to help people ride more safely. It would be all of a 5 minute drill really: Ride right, right straight, look first before changing your line of travel if at all possible, practice riding a straight line, encourage rear view mirrors (and check them, some don’t).

    I am not great at enjoying the pass through towns as I want to be. I need help there. Maybe some year I can join the pre-ride and get properly trained by the experts.

  18. Rick Buesing

    The riders in the back 20% of the RAGBRAI route are the big money spenders. We always ride with respect and safety in mind. RAGBRAI and the Troopers were anxious to move the group to the end town way too aggressively this year. We have lights and know how to ride safely. For many riders, it is the only week long vacation they get for the year. We bring a tremendous revenue to the small towns and love to interact with the locals who appreciate our presence. Please back down on pressure to complete the route at a specific time. We want to continue to respect our Troopers and we need them to continue to respect our fun.

  19. Clyde Halsrud

    I missed filling out the survey but have a few comments. First, I experienced a bike problem on the gravel loop with no support available. It was a struggle making it to the first town with bike repair. I would have thought support would be available on the gravel loop. Second, I could not find any rhubarb pie. The closest I got was strawberry/rhubarb. Disappointed. Third, man the hills a the end! I don’t need that again. Last, this was such a fantastic event and experience. Thanks to the Register and everyone responsible for its success.

  20. KenH

    Pace lines really should not be allowed on this ride. This is not because they could not function peacefully with the rest of us. It is because they will not function peacefully with the rest of us. Too many of them anyway. Too many of the will not wait for breaks in traffic to pass but will instead bully their way through, screaming at people to get out of their way. Too many of them cut over in front of you with only the barest of gaps between you and them for no reason at all other than that is what they do in club races and the like where everyone in the event is used to that and expects that. This is a tour, not a club race. A lot of riders are not prepared to deal with this sort of riding because they’ve never experienced it before and they should not be required to. There are plenty of other places to ride in pace lines, this ride should be kept free of them unless they are willing to police themselves and cooperate with everyone else, no matter how slow, no matter what part of the road they are riding on. Six years of experience says they are not willing to do that.

    Your music does not impress me. It does not motivate me. It does not entertain me. It does not enhance my RAGBRAI experience in any way. It prevents me from hearing the sounds of nature, the chatter of the ride, and the delightful symphony of whirring bicycle mechanisms. I am willing to put up with it because you enjoy it and want to share it with others which is a noble intent, but please keep the volume respectful. And please respect the mile of silence. This year I was passed by three people blaring out loud music on the mile of silence while some of us rode slowly and quietly out of respect for our fallen colleagues.

    Note to the Register/RAGBRAI staff: Next year please do a much more obvious job of marking the beginning (especially) and end of the mile of silence. There was nearly nothing to mark it this year which probably explains why I was passed by those three people blaring loud music. You need something big and bold and on both sides of the road. For example a row of three or more “feather” signs on each side of the road. Or an arch over the road although that may not be feasible if tall vehicles need to share the road with us. All I saw this year was one small sign on the right side of the road and then several more signs of the same size along the route with some information about bike fatalities and efforts to reduce them. Because of the crush of traffic at the time I passed through it I don’t think many people who were not riding in the right half of the right lane even noticed the signage this year. If you are not going to mark it well then don’t bother to have a mile of silence. Better to let each of us remember the fallen in our own way and at the time and place of our own choosing than to do a halfhearted job of designating the mile of silence.

    Sorry to hear of your trouble on the gravel loop. Did no one stop to help you? I certainly would have done so if I had seen anyone in distress on the loop. I am especially careful to check if stopped or struggling riders need help on the loop since the ride traffic is so light on the gravel. I actually rode it twice this year to make that day a century since I was driving the support vehicle on century day to let the other team members have a chance at that. Traffic is light on the gravel loop so help could be a while in coming but I think most folks will stop to help if you let them know you need it. Or was your issue just not fixable with the normal contingent of tools a cyclist carries? I can’t recall seeing SAG vehicle support on the loop in any of the three years it has been featured, however. If there is none then perhaps someone in the loop town with a pickup or trailer could be enlisted to patrol the loop next year and help folks out. Or maybe the bike vendors who let you borrow a gravel bike at the loop start could help with that.

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