RAGBRAI 2014… What you need to know Part 2

By | February 4, 2014

It is no secret that I am excited to take part in my second RAGBRAI.  Last week was a bit of an intro.  Now I get into the heart of the matter.  This year, RAGBRAI will passing through some BUTTHEAD’s hometowns.  That is awesome.  Clearly you know more about the places I am going than I do!  If you have anything to add, let me know!  I am happy to edit this post to make it more useful for other out of state RAGBRAI riders like me!!!  If not, I will assume that I got all the details!  Well here is what you were waiting for…  The RAGBRAI overnight towns!!!

Rock Valley, IA

Rock Valley, IA

Rock Valley, IA Starting Town

  • St. Mary's Church in Rock Valley

    St. Mary’s Church in Rock Valley

    Sunday, July 20.  Rock Valley, IA to Okoboji, IA  (The Iowa Great Lakes)Population: 3,354

  • 1st time as overnight town.
  • The low down:  Unfortunately I was unable to find a brewery in Rock Valley.  However, I was able to find Bake’s Pub and Grub located at 1301 Main Street.  Bake’s does appear to have Fat Tire on tap.  A good ol’ standby and a good place to start if you are looking to escape the heat of the bike expo.
  • Distance: 69 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,771 feet

Okoboji, IA (The Iowa Great Lakes)

  • Population: 9,960
  • 1st time as overnight town
  • The low down:  CYCLEBUTTCRACK has a Facebook friend in Okoboji which has been great help.  The Iowa great lakes area is home to not one, but two microbreweries!  Okoboji Brewing Company located at 3705 Hwy 71, Spirit Lake, IA. Okoboji Brewing Company has been in operation since 2009.  They have their own brews but also feature guest taps from other Breweries!  The taproom does not serve food, but you can bring/order your own.  Okoboji’s other brewery West O Beer located at 503 West Terrace Blvd. West Okoboji, IA.  In addition to it’s two breweries, the Iowa Great Lakes feature…  Lakes…  These are some nice options to cool off or escape the flavor free beers.
  • Update:  My Okoboji contact informs that Okoboji Brewing may be serving a java porter with spudznuts donuts and making fresh maple glazed bacon at the brewery.  MMMM!  That sounds tasty.  I hope they do.
Okoboji, IA (Iowa Great Lakes)

Monday, July 21. Okoboji, IA to Emmetsberg, IA

  • Distance: 41 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,078 feet

Emmetsberg, IA

  • Population:  3,904

    Emmetsberg, IA

    Emmetsberg, IA

  • 4th time as overnight town.
  • The low down:  After two breweries in Okoboji, it would be a good idea to take it easy the next day.  RAGBRAI has my back with this mellow 41 mile jaunt.  Are you a Little House on the Prairie fan?  I’m not, but a replica of the farm, was privately built in Emmitsberg.  Call 712-852-3810 to take a tour.  If that is not enough, how about taking a dip in the Art and Audry Smith Wellness Center Pool?  No breweries to discover, but RAGBRAI always finds a way to entertain. 

Tuesday, July 22 Emmetsberg, IA to Forest City, IA

  • Distance:  73 miles (100 including Kerris loop)
  • Elevation Gain:  1,333 feet

Forest City, IA

  • Population:  4,151

    Downtown Forest City, IA

    Downtown Forest City, IA

  • 4th time on RAGBRAI route
  • Low down:  Last year, I was feeling the heat.  I was tired and was not up for tackling the Karras

Loop.  The Karris Loop bumps the day’s route up to 100 miles.  This year, I hope that I am up for the challenge.  If I am, I plan on taking it easy in Forest City.  However, Forest City offers a once in a lifetime opportunity.  It is a chance to say, ‘Hey check out those Winnegabos!’ without fear of being slapped.  Forest City is the home of Winnebego.  You can take the opportunity to check out the Winnebago Industries Visitor Center and Museum.  I know I am going to check out some big ol’ Winnebegos.  Odds are they are tired of Winnebego jokes in Forest City.

Wednesday, July 23 Forest City, IA to Mason City, IA

  • Distance: 36 miles
  • Elevation gain:  695 feet
Mason City.  The Historic Park Inn Hotel: 1911

Mason City, IA  

Downtown Mason City.  Inspiration for the ‘Music Man’
  • Population 28,079
  • 2nd time on RAGBRAI overnight town.
  • Low down:  Wow!  Only 36 miles!!!  Why bother?  Well I am apt to be tired from the previous day’s century.  Plus, I will have plenty to keep me busy in Mason City.  I am an architect.  Mason City is home to Frank Lloyd writes largest development of Prarie homes outside of Chicago.  It is also homes to Wright’s only remaining hotel.  I tried to book a room, but it was sold out.  🙁  Assholes!  10,000+ people coming to town on that day, the least they could do is save me a room.  Grr!  I will console myself by grabbing a drink at Mason City Brewing at 28 E State.  I expect a big party in Mason City.

Thursday, July 24 Mason City, IA to Waverly, IA

  • Distance:  63 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,743 feet

Waverly, IA

  • Population: 9,874

    Downtown Waverly, IA

    Downtown Waverly, IA

  • 3rd time as overnight town
  • Low Down:  After a long night of fun in Mason City, Waverly does not disappoint with Angry Cedar Brewing located at 730 Technology Place.  UPDATE:  I have just received the sad news that Angry Cedar Brewing closed last year.  Waverly, incorporated in 1859 straddles the Cedar River.  Waverly is home to Wartberg College and its downtown district was designated a Main Street Iowas District.  Expect to see a lot of it, as the RAGBRAI festivities are usually centered in the downtown area of the overnight cities!

Friday, July 25 Waverly, IA to Independence, IA

  • Distance: 68 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,623 feet

Independence, IA

  • Population: 5,966

    Wapsipinicon Mill, Independence, IA

    Wapsipinicon Mill, Independence, IA

  • 3rd time on RAGBRAI route.
  • Low Down:  Independence, IA is home to the Independence State Hospital.  This is an institution perfect for people crazy enough to believe riding across the State of Iowa in the middle of summer is a good idea.  Independence was founded in 1847.  I am excited to see its historic buildings including a 6 story grist mill (1867) and Court House 1857.  Sadly Independence does not have a brewery.

Saturday, July 26 Independence, IA to Guttenberg, IA

  • Distance: 68 miles
  • Elevation gain: 3,073

Guttenberg, IA (Ending Town)

  • Population: 1,919

    Guttenberg, IA

    Guttenberg, IA

  • 5th time as finishing town.
  • Low Down:  Last year, the last day of RAGBRAI was bittersweet for me.  There were times during RAGBRAI where I was hoping it would never end.  Then all of a sudden it is just over.  I then had to worry about ‘real world’ problems again like finding my bus thinking about my flight home and how much money I spent.  This year’s RAGBRAI will be very flat.  They decided to stick the toughest climbing day at the end of the ride.  I admit that 3,000 vertical feet is not a lot of climbing.  However, it will be interesting to see how I will react to that climbing with 6 previous days of heat and riding in my legs.  It should be interesting 🙂  Guttenberg, the end town on this year’s RAGBRAI route has a lot of history and a strong German influence.  Sadly, in the rush to collect my things and catch the bus, I never got to experience the last years end town.  Hopefully this year, I will have some time.

Well there you have it.  I am looking forward to experiencing a great deal more of each of these towns.  If you have anything to add, please don’t be shy.


One of you BUTTHEADS have already come through with more critical data for RAGBRAI 2014.  I got an e-mail from a gentleman from Perry, IA (Perry was an overnight stop on last year’s RAGBRAI).  He informed me about the Iowa Craft Beer Tent.  I actually saw their trailer and purchased a fine Iowa craft brew in Des Moines last year.  The Iowa Craft Beer Tent trailer has 48 taps and is not to bee missed during RAGBRAI 2014.  Stay tuned to their website to find out where they will be.  While you are there check out their Iowa state craft breweries map.

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8 thoughts on “RAGBRAI 2014… What you need to know Part 2

  1. C.R.E.W.

    Dear CB,
    Saw your post about being denied a room at the historic Park Inn Hotel & thought I’d comment. I read some of your posts for last year’s RAGBRAI ride in order to find where you stayed overnight, but couldn’t find out what your arrangement was. Most overnight towns that have hotel/motel rooms are gone (booked/sold out) by the day after the route announcement (last Saturday in January). Talked with another rider who told me his team gathers in his house the night of the announcement. As soon as one town is announced, they all start dialing any/all hotels they can find in that town. It’s a race that is repeated by MANY other teams. (Actually, the race begins even before the route announcement! Oftentimes, a team will book hotel rooms in November in towns that are strongly favored to be an overnight stop. Then cancel those rooms if they are not on the route.) The best that you can do is put yourself on some hotel waiting list & hope someone cancels. Oh by the way, change “rest stops” to “pass through towns” and you’ll make yourself better understood for Midwesterners (and fellow RAGBRAI riders).

    1. Lance O

      Thank you for commenting!

      I was not all surprised I did not get a hotel room. My comment was meant to be facetious 🙂 Last year I was amazed that it was so easy to get a room in Omaha! I rode solo last year. Other than a hotel room at the start and end in Omaha, I slept in my own tent at the official RAGBRAI designated campgrounds. This arrangement took a little getting used to, but worked fine for me!

      I will make the edit to ‘pass through towns.’ However, it may take me a couple days. Thanks again for the feedback and criticism.


    2. C.R.E.W.

      Dear Lance,
      I’m not sure if you’re planning a solo traveling stint, as last year, but thought I’d throw in this nugget for you to chew on: last year I rode with Bicyclists of Iowa City; we had about 160 people or so. My cost = $150 for them to lug my gear across the state, scout out a dandy tent site for our group each night, provide a meet-and-greet cheese and wine with veggies snacks at the end of our first day, and they erect a large canvas tent for us to sit underneath in shade when we finish in the overnight town. The main reason I explain to you the benefit of choosing a charter such as mine–for just 9 dollars more than you spent for PBV’s one-way ticket, BIC provided all the above plus drove us in chartered buses from Iowa City to the starting point & picked us up in Fort Madison & drove us home.
      If you don’t still have last year’s RAGBRAI “instruction” booklet, you can go to RAGBRAI.com to find a charter who may offer more than just a ride for not much more than last year’s one-way ride on PBV. I recommend Ron Oman charters. They pick up in Omaha, right across the street from where PBV picks up. Search RAG forum for other endorsements of Ron Oman.

  2. Lance O

    Wow! That is a good deal! I wish they would charter a bus back to Sioux Falls 🙁 I will have to put that info in the updates! I have a few RAGBRAI instruction booklets. RAGBRAI keeps sending them to me to entice me to participate in this year’s RAGBRAI Expo.

  3. C.R.E.W.

    Update for Lance, I just checked Ron Oman Charter’s page and THEIR price for bus ride to starting town, hauling gear throughout the week, and pick up at end town & return to Omaha for 2013 was $300. That’s a might higher than $150 that I paid, but then our group is not for profit. He also may provide beers gratis, or other snacks that make it worth the extra bucks.

  4. Anonymous

    Angry Cedar in Waverly closed last year.

    Iowa Craft Beer Tent.


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