PLEASE CONTACT GREG LOCKHART FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND TO REGISTER
WHAT IS RAGBRAI?
RAGBRAI is the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, and is more than just a bike ride, it is an epic 8-day rolling festival of over 18,000 cyclists, music, food, camaraderie, and community. It is the oldest, largest, and longest multi-day bicycle touring event in the world!
WHERE – From the muddy Missouri River (west state line) to the mighty Mississippi (east state line). Approximately 750 km over smooth flat roads with the wind at your back! 99% car free! Precise route to be announced January 27, 2024.
WHEN - Saturday July 20 – Saturday July 27, 2024. Plan to arrive Friday July 19.
REGISTRATION - opens November 15, 2023
Go to www.ragbrai.com for more information. Or search Ragbrai 2023 on YouTube.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
This is a camping trip! Each roomy tent holds 2 people and all your gear. And the logistics are important. As is your commitment to attend!
There are many ways to do Ragbrai. Some fly to the start town, bike camp across Iowa, fly home. Or you could rent a bike, or ride a tandem. Take your own tent and camp at a community center, or someone’s backyard! Use a Charter service or go self-supported. Lots of camper vans too, their driver follows an alternate route to middle(for lunch) and end town each day and meet up with their riders. Some people ride only 1-3 days!
Or you could hire a Charter to look after your tent, luggage, transfers, etc. There are 6 or so charter companies, all with different levels of services offered.
We chose to use a Charter in 2022, and ended up choosing the biggest and the best Charter – Pork Belly Ventures! Basically all you do is you have to drive to the “End” town (1½ day drive from Kingston), load your luggage and bike and then you ride a 5 hour bus ride to the “Start” town, then the next morning wake up and start your adventure as you ride east between 70 and 110 km per day across Iowa for a week! There is an optional Gravel day as well as a 100 mile (161 km) Century option during the week.
We spent approximately $1500 per person for all Charter services (Be sure to get the cancellation insurance), plus we chose to bring $100 USD per day in cash (small bills) spending money for lunch and refreshments and fun money each day. Food, souvenir and beer vendors are all Cash Only. Do not count on Bank Machines having any money in them for the whole trip.
NEW this year Pork Belly is enforcing a 15% non-refundable deposit due at registration which opens mid December for a 3 week window. If they get too many reservations, they will do a lottery to keep the number under 500 tents (1000 people)!
Go to www.pkbelly.com for more information. Or search Pork Belly Ragbrai on YouTube.
Pork Belly Ventures allows each person 2 bags and 1 bike. A duffel bag works better than a suitcase as their only rule is you must be able to lift each bag over your head.
You arrive Friday July 19 in the late afternoon at the START town, enjoy the bike festival and pick up your registration package (They won’t mail them to Canada).
Put on your wrist band, bike tag, luggage tags, and memorize your tent number. Last time we were tent 20, and all week tent number and location stays the same. They put team members in adjacent tents so we will all be camping together.
Arrive at tent on Friday, blow up your mattress, pillow, lay out sleeping bag, etc. Showers are free and guarantee unlimited hot water. 4 dinners are included, vegan options available daily, and optional dinners are available for $12. Local churches also serve dinners as a fundraiser, we had a great spaghetti feast one evening for $10.
Each morning you must be out of your tent by 7 am with your 2 bags packed and ready inside the flap of your tent. Coffee is free, and breakfast is free or optional donation if sponsored by the Boys and Girls Club, for example. Kybo’s (johnny on the spot) are everywhere at camp and every town we ride through.
When ready to ride the day’s route, an early start helps to beat the heat of the day which can easily get over 100F. Route is open and policed 6am to 6pm. We handed out Canada tattoos to little kids, and enjoyed talking to locals, support crews and other cyclists! And every dollar you spend whether it be a famous slice of pie or bottled water supports a local organization or charity. Be sure to stop at Mr. Porkchop too!
When you get to the last town of the day, look for Pork Belly signs along the route which will point the way to the campground (Typically a high school or fairgrounds).
Upon arrival, find your tent number and your 2 bags are magically inside! Set up your gear, have a shower, plug in your devices and ebike in a special trailer with hundreds of power outlets behind little lockers (bring a small combination lock). Then go to dinner, or take a free shuttle to the main street of the town to explore, maybe find a pub or the community pool for a dip!
At the Pork Belly camp, they have a live band every night, massage, and unlimited free beer or lemon-aid. Lights out by 9 pm. Remember you have to be up, packed and out by 7 am.
Pork Belly has a help desk set up each day at camp. They will help you with everything! And read the daily information board!
If you are riding and are unable to continue, just pull off the road, turn your bike upside down, and the SAG wagon will pick you up and drive you and your bike to the end town for the day. (Your bike tag proves you have paid for this service)
If you decide to skip a day cycling for rest or recovery, tell the help desk in advance for arrangements. Enjoy the air conditioned SAG ride!
If you need a camping break midweek, there is limited indoor sleeping in air conditioned gymnasiums available for a small fee. A mid-week laundry service is available!
There is bike shop support at almost every town, but if you get a mechanical or flat on route, the U.S. Air Force sends hundreds of cyclists from all over to act as mobile support. Last year they ‘saved’ over 1000 cyclists! Be sure to pack tubes!
This is a luxury charter. And we were so glad we chose Pork Belly! I saw other charters where people are riding with their 2 bags over their shoulder (after a long day in the heat) from the truck looking for their campsite. Showers cost $10-12 at a local school gym. Then they set up their tent, hunt for a kybo, no free coffee waiting for them in the morning!
Cell service is spotty at best. 18,000 riders tend to overwhelm the cell towers. They even install portable towers in towns. Best to pop into a local library, or a restaurant if you need wifi. We found that text message worked fine, otherwise your cell phone is just a camera! So we left them in airplane mode with data off. So nice to unplug for a week!
Greg Lockhart, KVC member will be the point of contact, only because I have attended RAGBRAI before and will be pleased to answer any questions or concerns. Gregorylockhart13@gmail.com or 647-544-0952.
KVC, we would like to get 10-20 members or more, then we can register as a “TEAM” which ensures we all get to go if there’s a dreaded lottery. (Worst case our team does not get chosen, we will postpone until 2025.)
If this event is a go, we must register on the RAGBRAI website first as a TEAM, then the Pork Belly website second as a TEAM. That’s where we choose tent services, shuttle from end town to start town, SAG support, meal plan, cancellation insurance, fork over the visa number etc.
We purchased travel insurance from CAA a couple of weeks before the trip last time.
Pork Belly sends out weekly emails with updates, GPS routes, and other info. I received the first email, that’s what prompted this invitation. Yes, there is a lot of coordination, but your week in the corn will be unforgettable. The kind people of IOWA open their hearts and communities the last week of July every year since 1973!
Let’s hope we can get a group together and pull this off! We have to move quickly so I have to set a deadline of December 10, 2023 for your commitment to attend (2 people per tent maximum). Then I will figure out the next steps and forward Pork Belly Email #1.
Greg Lockhart and Sherry Harrison