CowaLUNGa FAQs

Got questions? You aren’t alone. This list of Frequently Asked Questions has been built from past Cow riders’ inquiries. Click on the down arrow in each box to reveal the answer. Be sure to scroll through the entire list as we add new FAQs when needed.

Still can’t find what you need? Contact us via email or call 312-628-0210.

About the CowaLUNGa Charity Bike Tour

I’ve never been on an organized ride before and I’m a little nervous.

Even though that’s not a question, your nervousness is completely understandable. Respiratory Health Association (RHA) has hosted 21 successful bike tours so we know exactly what you need and when you’ll need it. You’ll receive lots of support throughout the three day ride. SAG drivers patrol the route in case you need a ride or other assistance. Mobile bike shops are available for on-the-road repairs. Medical volunteers keep an eye on our riders and remind everyone to stay hydrated. We supply food, arrange overnight accommodations, transport your gear, and get you and your bike back to the start line location. RHA even provides pre-ride training opportunities and fundraising coaching. We make available the tools you need for a successful and enjoyable experience.

I don’t own an expensive bike. Will I have to purchase a new one for CowaLUNGa?

No. It’s not important to own an expensive bike. What is important is your bike fits you, you are comfortable on it and you have trained on it. Also, it’s important your bicycle is in good condition. (We suggest a tune-up at one of our sponsoring bike shops – Village CycleSport or Wheel & Sprocket.) CowaLUNGa participants ride different types of bikes – road bikes, hybrid bikes, mountain bikes, recumbents and even tandems.

Do I have to wear a helmet?

Yes, all participants are required to wear helmets at all times while on their bikes. Your safety is our number one concern so no helmet = no ride.

Am I required to fundraise?

Yes. Funds raised by CowaLUNGa riders support RHA’S mission to promote healthy lungs and clean air through education, research, and policy change. We’ve set reasonable minimums and have many past participants who’ve raise well above that amount. Review the requirements and deadlines and visit our Fundraising Support resources to help you reach your fundraising goals.

Please note that riders who have not yet met the fundraising minimum by event day will be required to provide credit card information at start line check-in to participate in the event. If the minimum still has not been raised by the fundraising deadline, typically two weeks after the Tour has been completed, the credit card provided will be charged the difference between the current amount raised and the minimum required. You are not allowed to participate in this year’s ride if you have not fulfilled the minimum pledge requirement from a past event.

How can I become a Lung Health Champion and what are the benefits?

Select the Lung Health Champion option during registration and you’re in. We’re grateful for your commitment to RHA’s mission and offer some great CowaLUNGa Lung Health Champion benefits for raising a minimum of $1,000. Visit the Lung Health Champion’s FAQs section below for additional information.

I’m riding CowaLUNGa by myself. Do others ride alone?

Yes! The CowaLUNGa Charity Bike Tour hosts families with their young children, groups who register together, and individuals who ride alone. No matter who you are, you will meet lots of people with similar interests and by the time the ride is over, you’ll have many new friends. Everyone becomes part of the CowaLUNGa family (CowaLUNGa can even take credit for a number of marriages!). If you think you’d feel more comfortable being part of a team, read more about joining Team CowaLUNGa here.

Can I join a team if I have already registered as an individual?

Yes! Email gms@lungchicago.org with the name of the team you’d like to join and we’ll get you added.

Is there a minimum age to participate?

There is no minimum age to participate in the CowaLUNGa Charity Bike Tour. Please read our Child Rider Policy for rules and requirements.

Is there day-of-event registration?

No! Online registration closes approximately 24 hours prior to even day. After that time, call (312) 628-0210 to check availability as last minute cancellations may create open spots to participate.

I registered, but can no longer participate. Can I transfer my registration to another person or to next year?

All CowaLUNGa fees and donations are non-refundable and non-transferable. Please let us know you will need to cancel your registration as soon as possible.

On the Ride

Will I need to carry identification during the event?

All participants MUST carry a current driver’s license, state-issued ID or student ID with them at all times. It’s important each rider is easily identified if necessary. We also require each participant to submit emergency contact information upon registration. This information will be used only if necessary.

Do I have to wear a helmet?

All participants are required to wear helmets at all times while on their bikes. Your safety is our number one concern so no helmet = no ride.

Do I need to check-in when I’m done riding each day?

Yes. This is mandatory and VERY IMPORTANT. The check-in procedure is done for several reasons. First, this is how we know that you have made it safely to the end of the day and how we keep track of everyone. Second, you must check-in to receive your room assignments for the night. Third, you must check-in to receive the next day’s cue sheet. Although it’s tempting to relax after you’ve made it to the end of each day, you must check-in before you do so.

Do I have to carry my belongings with me on my bike?

No. RHA provides a gear truck at start line check-in for one-, two- and three-day riders and transports your belongings along the route. You’ll be able to retrieve your gear when you arrive at each day’s final destination and check in. If you’re registered for the following day’s ride, you’ll drop your bag off with our staff the next morning.

Please, one bag per person. Campers are allowed a second bag for their camping gear.

What about meals? If I’m riding all day, I will need to refuel.

Riders receive all-you-can-eat breakfast and dinner each day, except Saturday morning when snacks are provided at start line instead of breakfast.

You should also plan to visit the official rest stops along the route – a “morning” and an “afternoon” location are available each day. Our rest stops are loaded with an assortment of fuel-up foods and beverages with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dietary restrictions in mind.

Although you are responsible for your own lunch (bring some cash), the route is planned so there are plenty of places along the route to stop and grab food, beverages (adult or otherwise), desserts and ice cream. Our highlighted locations have welcomed Cow riders for years and look forward to seeing you.

What kind of overnight accommodations are available?

Accommodations are included in your CowaLUNGa registration fee and you’ll choose “indoor” or “outdoor” when you register.

Indoor accommodations include dorm-like cabins on Day One and dorm rooms at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater on Day Two. There is no air conditioning at either site. In all cases, two people are assigned to a room (and sometimes more on Day One, depending on your cabin assignment). You will need to bring your own linens including sheets, pillow, blankets, and/or other items important to you for a good night of sleep. We’ll transport these items for you from one overnight stop to the next. And remember to pack a shower towel to use for the weekend.

If you’d prefer to sleep outdoors at Conference Point on night one, space will be made available for you to set up your own camping equipment. RHA will transport camping gear but cannot assist with set up. Campers will have access to restrooms and showers. And remember to pack a shower towel to use for the weekend.

Where do I keep my bike overnight?

Riders are allowed to keep their bikes in their cabins at the Day One overnight stop.

On Day Two, bikes are NOT allowed in dorm rooms and are required to be locked in a secure location on UW-Whitewater’s campus for overnight storage. You should take off any removable equipment, because although the Day Two storage location is fully secured, RHA is not responsible for lost or damaged items.

When will I receive an event itinerary and route information?

Route information and a weekend itinerary will be provided when you check in on event day at the start line in Gurnee (check-in starts at 7:00 am that morning). A “cue sheet” is provided for each day of the ride, offering turn-by-turn directions and mileage for the route.

How do I find my way on the route?

When you check in at the start line on the first day of the event, you will receive a “cue sheet” for that day’s route. Cue sheets have line-by-line instructions of every road and turn along the route plus mileage information.

Along the route, pink directional arrows are painted on the pavement and CowaLUNGa signs are placed for additional guidance. You will see an example of these arrows and signs at the start line check-in.

Each night when you check in at the overnight location, you will receive a cue sheet for the next day’s route.

Am I out on the route alone all day?

No. Volunteers patrol the route in support and gear (SAG) vans during official ride hours. These volunteers are there to make sure everything is going well on the route. They can assist if you are in need of help. Use the “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” signal to let them know they are needed.

In addition, there will be two mobile bike shops and a mobile volunteer medical team available.

You can flag down any CowaLUNGa vehicle if you are in need of services, because all official CowaLUNGa vehicles can communicate with each other and can call for the appropriate help.

What happens if I get a flat tire? Will I have to carry my bike to the nearest rest stop?

One of the many services offered along the route is bicycle support. Our mobile bike shops, Village CycleSport and Wheel & Sprocket, are available to address any repair problems you may encounter. Should you require help while on the route, use a ‘thumbs down’ signal to let an approaching repair van know you need help. However, carrying spare tubes and a pump and knowing how to change a flat is recommended. Changing tires and simple repairs are complimentary. Parts and more complex repairs will be assessed by each bike shop and charged to the rider.

How much time do I have each day to complete the ride?

Although it’s not a race, there are hours in which you must finish the ride each day. These hours will be printed on your itinerary and your cue sheets, which are available at check-in on the first day of the ride. Ride hours are roughly from the opening time of breakfast until the middle of dinner hours. This is plenty of time to complete your daily ride in a leisurely fashion. If you leave before ride hours begin or finish after ride hours end, support services will not be available.

What if it rains during the tour?

The event does go on, rain or shine. Though we generally experience great riding weather, it’s still summer in the Midwest. Be sure to bring rain gear just in case – check your list of things to pack for more information.  In cases of severe weather conditions (lightning, excessive heat) the event may be delayed and/or portions of the route may be closed. Potential weather issues will be communicated to all participants.

What happens if there is an emergency?

Our mobile volunteer medical team patrols the route and will be contacted in the event of an emergency. They will also be available before and after ride hours at our overnight sites. For non-medical emergencies, SAG vehicles are regularly patrolling the route as well and can provide help. If necessary, we will alert riders of information via social media, email and on the ride at rest stops, sites and on the route.

Lung Health Champions


What is a Lung Health Champion?

Lung Health Champions are a special group of riders who have committed and guaranteed to fundraise $1,000 each to support the CowaLUNGa Bike Tour and Respiratory Health Association. The deadline to fundraise $1,000 is typically about two weeks after the Tour is over. Exclusive benefits are provided to Lung Health Champions.

Who can sign up to be a Lung Health Champion?

Anyone can be a Lung Health Champion – all you have to do is sign up. (Choose YES on the Lung Health Champion registration question.) Standard registration fees apply and are due at the time of registration.

Why should I be a Lung Health Champion?

By committing to fundraise $1,000 as a Lung Health Champion, your efforts will have a significant impact on RHA’s efforts to promote healthy lungs and clean air and improve the quality of life of those living with lung disease. To show our gratitude for your commitment, you receive exclusive participant benefits.

Can I start a team or be a team member if I am a Lung Health Champion?

Of course! Lung Health Champions can be individual riders, team captains or team members. There can also be multiple people on one team who are Lung Health Champions.

What if I don’t meet my fundraising obligation by the deadline?

As a Lung Health Champion, you have committed and guaranteed to fundraise $1,000 by the fundraising deadline. RHA provides a comprehensive fundraising toolkit and all kinds of fundraising support to help you achieve this goal.

If you haven’t raised the $1,000 commitment by the fundraising deadline, you will be responsible for paying the balance due.