The Results Are In…

Before we get too far down the road planning RAGBRAI XLV, lets take a quick look back at what a great time we all had in 2016!  Here is a sampling of responses to our annual Rider and Support Driver surveys…

RIDER DEMOGRAPHICSDSC_0082 20160728_bp_RAGBRAI_19 des_m_0725_RAGBRAIGravelLoop_bsh_7967]

  • 30% of respondents were first time riders.
  • 73.5% rode the full 420 miles of the ride.
  • Nearly 9% rode the Gravel Loop through Imogene.
  • 25.5% rode the Karras Loop through the Honey Creek Resort.
  • Nearly 53% used the bike license plate.  24.5% weren’t interested in using the license plate.  The rest did not know what it was.
  • 82% of respondents like to start their day between 6a.m-8a.m.
  • Nearly 70% of riders spend $25-$50 per day on RAGBRAI.
  • 37% prefer to eat breakfast in the first pass-through town, 28% eat on the route before the first pass-through town, 22% eat before leaving the overnight town, 11% eat after the pass-through town.
  • 2% don’t realize that breakfast is the most important meal of the day!
  • Almost 5% are vegetarian, about 3% eat only gluten-free foods.
  • 40% might eat a vegetarian or gluten free meal option if offered; 51% would never consider it.
  • 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 32% of respondents said they put in over 1000 training miles before RAGBRAI XLIV.
  • About 33% of riders used personal support vehicles to carry their bags, 28% used a RAGBRAI charter, 27% traveled with a large group, 11% used the RAGBRAI Baggage Truck and 1% carried their own bags.
  • 68% of riders are male; 60% are between the ages of 45-65.
  • 80% of riders had no trouble with the new online registration system.  Less than 5% had difficulty with setting up their user account and registering online.


The top 3 most serious rider safety challenges identified in the survey are:

  • Vehicle traffic on the route
  • Erratic or unpredictable riding
  • Communication or signaling intent

Several people commented on surface hazards such as cracks, potholes and rough railroad crossings. Another main concern was slower and inexperienced riders not riding to the right. Groups of 2-3 riding slow and abreast caused challenges for other riders trying to pass. Many riders also noted that riders with loud speakers caused safety concerns.


Riders particularly liked:

  • The feel of small town, Iowa.
  • Towns who fully committed to a theme.
  • Having everything in close proximity (campgrounds, food, entertainment, showers).
  • Riding shorter mileage on the last day.

Riders would like to see the following changes:

  • Less vehicle traffic on the bike route- especially from vehicle support drivers.
  • More kybos and showers.
  • Less commercial food vendors and more local organizations/restaurants/businesses.
  • More variety in music/entertainment in overnight towns; less 70’s-80’s rock.
  • Healthier food options.
  • More free water bottle filling stations or better signage to direct riders to free water filling stations.


  • 43% were driving support for the first time.
  • 65% prefer to leave between 6:00-8:00 A.M.
  • 51% of support drivers spend on average $35-$75 per day including fuel and supplies.
  • 41% prefer to purchase supplies in town once they arrive, 33% in a town along the route, and 26% before leaving town.
  • 39% of respondents drove a personal vehicle.  22% of respondents drove a bus, RV, or pulled a camper.
  • 45% of drivers are from the state of Iowa.
  • 52% of respondents are male.
  • 39% of respondents are 55-64 years old; 22% were over 65 years old.

Respondents would like the following additional information to be covered in the driver safety meeting:

  • A booklet of each overnight town’s town map distributed at the meeting.
  • Safety meeting to start later or to publish a video online for those doing partial week.

Support drivers would like to see these changes implemented in the meeting towns:

  • Have clearer instructions (more signage) on where the route goes in and out of town, as well as more directions on to where to park once in town.
  • Place parking near the downtown area of the meeting towns.
  • Communicate with businesses in meeting towns to expect busier traffic due to both cyclist and support drivers/vehicles.

Feedback on route maps and signs:

  • Maps were helpful, but green signs were hard to see.
  • Drivers sometimes had a hard time leaving the town and getting on the support driver route without crossing cyclists route on their way through/out of town.
  • Some respondents suggested that more arrow signs before the turn would have been helpful.
  • Overlay the rider route and the support driver route on one map.

Thank you all for making RAGBRAI the great event that it is.  We hope to see you July 23-29 for RAGBRAI XLV.  Here are some other important dates to remember:

  • Registration opens November 15, 2016
  • RAGBRAI Route Announcement Party and Iowa Bike Expo is January 21, 2017
  • Weeklong  Rider Registration closes April 1, 2017
  • PIGTAILS Ride is May 20, 2017
  • BACoon Ride Four is June 17, 2017
  • 2017 RAGBRAI Expo is July 22, 2017


Kenbaker, Sep 30, 2016 at 11:21 am

I would really like to know an age break down of the registered riders. Think that would be interesting.

iJimJones, Sep 30, 2016 at 1:30 pm

For support drivers who miss orientation due to unforeseen circumstances, have a clearly communicated way for them to get the information and handouts (e.g., safety instructions and maps). For example, a PDF could be emailed to all drivers or made available online once the orientation has ended. Perhaps also an online video of the orientation and any Q&A would be helpful. Links could go out on the RAGBRAI newsletter.

I don’t know if this is possible or not– some sort of installable route file for GPS devices (Garmin, TomTom) and Map-apps that follow the official route for support drivers so that these tools can still be used.

dlhrugby, Sep 30, 2016 at 4:42 pm

Please more emphasis on recycling. How many million plastic bottles and cups ended in in the trash!

pthomp2420, Sep 30, 2016 at 6:25 pm

I drove a large Ryder Truck for Adaptive Sports the last 3 years after repeated years of riding. This year was the first time I attended training. I really appreciated the instructions and rational given. I stayed on the the support route all week and enjoyed eating at HyVee in the next overnight town with other support drivers who did the same. I was able to leave at nearly 6:00 am every morning.

Peggy Sharyon, Sep 30, 2016 at 8:04 pm

I agree with David about the need for riders and vendors to reduce the use of plastic! Recycling water bottles, plastic cups, cans and bottles will dramatically reduce waste and make the already incredible experience of RAGBRAI more meaningful. It is time to hire a recycling contractor to follow the route and I would be honored to be part of the process: sharyon6@comcast.net. Thank you!

Kevin Remillard, Oct 1, 2016 at 4:40 am

Upon arrival in overnight towns locating camping spots can be improved upon particularly in light of the cell phone connectivity issues in southern Iowa. If there is a team to address this issue I would like to volunteer.

ISUTubbs, Oct 2, 2016 at 4:10 pm

Has the ride’s demographics changed much through the years? Seems this year skews male and “older” (I can say that as I’m in that 60% group of 45-65 year olds!). Wondering how to encourage younger riders to experience the amazing week called RAGBRAI.

Aminton, Oct 4, 2016 at 3:47 pm

I am sorry I missed the ability to comment on the survey, but I would like to add that a couple of times while entering the final town I did not know where to go, better signage to “where the action is” would be helpful. I would like to see healthier food choices, and more options available for ice. The water options are great, but I would love ice too, I will gladly pay for it if it could be available. The traffic and slower riders, especially on hills, was a problem for me on a few occasions.

RandyWu, Oct 8, 2016 at 2:24 pm

Rider safety could be improved if RAGBRAI/Register would share information on the number and type of injuries recorded on the ride. The ambulance service estimates that about 50 riders were taken to the hospital for a wide range of injuries ranging from heat exhaustion to more serious injuries. I (and others that commented on the surface hazards) know that there were falls and injuries that did not require a trip to the hospital. If information is shared on the number of accidents/injuries, then future RAGBRAI riders will better understand what could happen if safety is not a priority while enjoying the ride.

KellyT, Oct 13, 2016 at 1:54 pm

I’d like to second those folks who commented on recycling. I recommend you make being responsible steward of our environment a major talking point next year.

Also, I liked a lot of shirts that the overnight host communities designed. Unfortunately by the time I found out where I could buy one they were all sold out of my size. Perhaps you could work with the overnight towns to allow us to pre-order shirts and pick them up on our way through.

william (Bill) henninger, Oct 17, 2016 at 9:53 am

Anyone looking for a Team bus? Have a 36 pass. 1996 Bluebird with highback seats, underchassis storage, overhead storage, DVD players and monitors, toilet, a Cummins diesel engine, Allison Transmission and only 9800 miles. DOT registered now, been inspected. Blue and white colors. A/C and Heaters recently repaired. Would make a great team bus! Asking $8500. We can send pictures on request and any other info.
Grace Baptist Church, Waterloo, Iowa
3820 Hammond Avenue
Contact Name and Number Rodney Perry (319) 231-3894

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