Bikes everywhere! – RAGBRAI Day 1

We awoke at 5:30 am to the sound of tent zippers. A surprising number of people were already out and about, but for us this felt way too early. The midnight fireworks left us groggy and tired, but we quickly packed up and had a small bite to eat. (We brought some granola with us – and we were very happy to have it).  By 6:30 am we were on the road. Becky desperately needed coffee, so we stopped at a Burger King on the way out of town for a cup. Mornings will definitely be a challenge as we are used to eating a full breakfast before getting on the bikes and riding.

Once we left the campsite area, the police had placed cones to keep riders to one lane on the road. This very quickly became futile as the number of riders expanded to fill both outbound lanes. At first we were nervous about oncoming traffic and riding in the left lane, but soon we discovered that riders take over both lanes for most of the day.

We moved along quite well for 20 km or so, then crested as small hill and a sea of humanity and bikes appeared.  Shouts of “slowing!”, “slowing!”, “stopping!” filled the air.   We slowed to a stop, and walked our bikes forward for a few hundred metres before discovering the cause.  It was The Farm Boys – purveyors of quality breakfast burritos, and very popular.  We were ready for a real breakfast, so we  decided to join the line up to see what all the fuss was about. We had been warned about long food lines, and this was to be our first experience with them, waiting over an hour for our breakfast burritos (fortunately, the coffee didn’t require waiting so Becky enjoyed her second cup of the day while in line). The burritos were definitely worth the wait – fresh shells loaded with real scrambled eggs, hash browns, ham, bacon, cheese, and salsa – yum. Becky can also attest that they had excellent coffee too.

Our first traffic jam of the day – at the Farm Boys kiosk.

We soon discovered that bicycle congestion is common, but riders handle it well, with good communication.  Mostly it happens in the pass-through towns as riders stop to buy food, use a kybo, listen to the music or just rest for a bit.

Pulling into Kingsley – the first real pass-through town. Note the mass of riders on the road ahead.

Our second food stop of the day was for lunch at Pastafaria – where they had great pasta accompanied by great reggae music. This too was a RAGBRAI tradition, and the lines were long. We waited for about an hour for lunch, but the pasta was precisely what we needed.  Yum!

As we approached Storm Lake, we found our charter in a park along the lake on the outskirts of town. After yesterday’s experience, we were happy to have found the charter so easily. We quickly found a spot in the shade for our tent and jumped into the lake to cool down. Unfortunately, Storm Lake was really warm – so warm that it didn’t do much to cool us down. It did however remove the first layer of road grime and sweat.

We ran into Nancy at the campsite and was glad to see that her wristband had been found. We asked her about the showers, and she explained how they worked with the charter – we need only find a solar bag that was not in use and fill it. The longer it is left in the sun the warmer the water will be. The water directly from the truck was pretty cold, which on a hot day was nice but a bit of shock to the system. We quickly found shower bags and enjoyed a nice cool shower.

Next on our agenda was food. Unfortunately, there was nothing near the campsite. One of the other cyclists mentioned that he had a nice lasagna dinner at a local church, just up the road. Since there was a risk of them running out of food, we needed to get there quickly, so we hopped back on our bikes in search of food. It turned out that both that church and the school dinner had run out of food – it was almost 7 pm. We did find a loaded-baked potato dinner at the local historical society. Apparently, they didn’t get much traffic early on, so they reduced the price to $5 per person. Since they had food, we were happy to enjoy the baked potato with all the fixin’s (ham, bacon, beans, salsa, sour cream, fake butter, broccoli, and cheese). Dinner included a banana split dessert – but they ran out of bananas just as we got there (we managed to share the last 1/2 banana).

As we crawled into the tent at night, fireflies started to dance out of the grass. It looked like small sparks launching out of the ground. Becky has never seen fireflies behave like that – we usually see them fly around bushes. It was really cool to see them jumping up around all the tents!

RAGBRAI TIP – Cornfields make great outhouses with no lines and great privacy – bring a trowel!

The morning traffic, taking over both outbound lanes.

Bikes filling the roads – and this isn’t event a busy time!

There were several fellow Canadians proudly displaying the maple leaf – we didn’t actually meet these guys.

Can you pick out Becky in the crowd as we approach a pass-through town?

Bike parked/abandoned along the side of the road as their owners waited in line for food.

Bike littered everywhere as riders take a break.

A creative recumbent rider – he rode the entire week as a shark! The number one question asked of him: “Aren’t you hot in there?”

Throughout the ride, there were posters proclaim the various benefits of hog farming in Iowa.

There were also lots of clever roadside signs to keep us amused as we rode.

Ever wonder what happens when a windmill blade gets hit by lightening?

Note the Canada flag flying with Becky’s sign. Throughout the week, we were greeted with “hello Canada” and “Oh Canada”.

Team tutu were wearing tutus all week – not always wearing them where you would expect them too.


  • Sioux City to Storm Lake (PDF route map).
  • Reported as 68.5 miles (110 km).
  • We rode 115 km to campsite, and an additional 9 km to and from dinner.
  • Route ride time 6h 38 min.
  • Route to day total: 124 km.

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