Gluten Free Ragbrai

Bikers on Ragbrai

It’s almost time for RAGBRAI….

What’s that I hear you say? Well, it’s an annual seven day bike ride across Iowa. RAGBRAI is the oldest, largest and longest bicycle touring event in the world and this year my boyfriend is taking part. Riders begin at Iowa’s western border on the Missouri River and finish, a week later, at the eastern border at the Mississippi River. It’s a week of cycling, drinking and camping and it should be a really good time. As I’m currently in training for my marathon, I opted to be the support vehicle driver for him and his buddies. That way I can fit my daily training runs into each day.

Each night is spent in a different town across Iowa and there are many vendors and stalls selling various foods to provide sustenance to starving cyclists. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, most of the foods for sale are the usual glutenous treats that I am forced to stay clear of…..

….As a result of this, I must come prepared with a week’s worth of gluten free food.

My gluten free food bag is filled with 3 boxes of Chex cereal, milk, plain and caramel rice cakes, yoghurts, corn tortillas, sandwich ham, babybel, grapes and a couple of Tootsie Rolls. I also have one pack of maki sushi, 3 containers of rice, tuna and a bottle of wheat free soy sauce.

My diet over the week won’t be the most varied but it will be 100% gluten free! I plan to pick up some fresh veggies en route to eat with my rice and I’ve heard that there will be corn on the cob in most of the overnight towns so I’m looking forward to nibbling on that.

I’m prepared with enough food to last me the week as I don’t want to have to rely on finding anything gluten free. Anything I do come across en route will be a much appreciated treat, which will vary my week’s diet!

UPDATE: RABGRAI was lots of fun! What a unique and crazy party experience!

When it came to finding gluten free food however, that was a different story. I was very glad to have my own food

Corn on Ragbrai

with me as there was almost nothing gluten free to eat en route. I was able to find sweet corn only twice (and never in the overnight towns). The rest of the time I ate the food I had brought with me or popped into the local Hy-Vee for extra supplies. Tequila, cider and wine were my gluten free drinks of choice throughout the week.

I wasn’t biking so having my food with me in the van made things pretty simple. I can’t imagine how difficult it would have been to ride for the whole week though…stopping in each town to drink and party without much chance of finding something gluten free to balance out all of those calories being burned! I’d be very interested to hear about the experiences of any other Coeliacs on RAGBRAI, especially if you managed to ride for the week, as I’m contemplating riding myself next year and would love some advice on how you did it without gluten!

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  • Katie Mertens

    Aug 2nd, 2010

    Nice Ragbrai post. Keep up the good work.

  • I know some one who did gluten free ragbri this year – they ate LOTS of meal bars

    here is another blog about it:

    if you do it and you go through cedar rapids next year, I’d be happy to put you up for the night – hurray for (gf) couch hopping!

  • We rode one day of RAGBRAI this year with our six-year-old daughter (who has celiac disease) on a trail-a-bike behind me. It was only one day, but we managed to pack enough food for at least two days in one of my panniers, in a small soft cooler:

    * apples
    * GF nut bars
    * pudding (she’s 6…)
    * yogurt
    * string cheese
    * GF peanut butter sandwiches
    * peanut butter snack size packs
    * grapes

    We can’t wait to ride again next year when we plan for 2-3 days of riding! Maybe we’ll start up a team gluten free…hmmm…

  • Hey Cory, Thanks for posting! That’s so great that you rode a day with your daughter. Nice snacks and helpful for giving other gluten free riders’s great to hear from fellow prepared celiac families 🙂 I hope your daughter had a wonderful time and enjoyed all her gluten free RAGBRAI snacks! Perhaps I’ll see you there next year.

    Team Gluten Free…I love it!

  • Interesting post. Thanks.
    I’ve done Ragbrai several times but have recently found out I need to be gluten free. As a result, I didn’t do Ragbrai this year. However, I’ve been thinking of offering a charter service for a relatively small group where I provide the meals and other services, such as luggage transfer. I’m thinking gluten free, but probably more Paleo with grassfed meat and organic produce. I’d be curious to know if there is any interest in this.

  • Jackie, I think some kind of service where celiacs could still participate in Ragbrai but also get all the energy they need for the days and days of cycling from safe food would be great.

    Personally I think it would be amazing if a group of gluten free vendors set up at every end of the day town and perhaps also towns en route so that celiacs would know where they could stop for safe food if they were hungry. It could be naturally gluten free food that everyone would be interested it but that celiacs would know was safe for them. 🙂

  • John M.

    Sep 1st, 2011

    I believe that if you get a gluten free group together there would be a great response. I have read numerous post now from many who seem to piece together enough food to get by. Good eating is an integral part of the week, count me and my daughter in. I am a fairly good cook, set-up, clean-up general handy person, always willing to pitch in.
    It may also be possible to piggy back on an existing group with just some coordination, not reinventing the whole process.

  • Lohrville will be selling Gluten-Free pie. Apple, Peach and Cherry. Also, we’ll have sweet corn and bacon wrapped sweet corn that will not have contact with gluten. You can check out our FB page for more info about what we have.