The most typical way to do RAGBRAI is to camp. You are allotted one bag that they carry from town to town and when you get to a host town, your bags are available for pickup. Since there are around 10,000 riders, you usually are camping at a school or at a county fairgrounds. The host towns lobby to serve as hosts because it brings all of these bodies into town, along with their wallets. It typically is a good deal for both parties. The local organizations like boy scouts, Lions Club, local churches, etc. have dinners and other fundraisers and the riders can eat on the cheap.
Iowa always struck me as small town USA and this ride confirms it. I mean that in a nice way. The routes are planned to pass thru towns to allow for food, drink, sightseeing, etc. We usually got breakfast on the road, stopped for longer stays for lunch, then had dinner in the host town. It's not atypical to visit a town of 2000 or less when you are riding. Even along the road, there are opportunities to stop for coffee, ice cream, pb&j's and just about anything else. Along the way, the locals line up to watch the riders pass by and wave to them. In between towns it's a lot of farmland with fields of corn and other crops. Two lane highways for the most part with rolling hills. It's about as perfect for riding as you might imagine.
For a lot of recreational cyclists, the metric century (100km/62mi) is a common ride for organized group rides. This is essentially seven of them in a row. You start on the west side of the state and end up on the east side. Many riders choose to dip their rear tire in the Missouri River at the start and then dip their front tire in the Mississippi River at the finish. You can start at 6:00am and they stop on road support around 6:00pm so you can take your time if you so desire. Luke and I shot for a 2:00-4:00pm finish most days to allow us to get camp set up, get showered, and grab an early dinner. Then we would cruise the host town to check out the vendors or the entertainment. Most nights we hit the sack just after sunset, since we were typically on the road by 6:00am the next day.
On this trip, I didn't take a lot of pictures. I was in one of those "in the moment" moods and just focused on enjoying the trip. The few that I did take got deleted in error. The pictures that you see here, were taken by my friend and RAGBRAI teammate Luke. If you are a Facebook user and you want to check out his site, visit The FAT Driver. To find out more about RAGBRAI, visit ragbrai.com. And to find out more about Iowa, visit www.traveliowa.com.
Small town USA
Camping for 10,000
Passing thru town
On the road