The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa

Using RAGBRAI truck for bags/tents, camping?

I was spoiled last year during RAGBRAI because I had friends with a camper so after riding all I had to do was find the camper and plop myself onto my cushy bed. This year… not so much, the friends aren’t available. Considering using the actual RAGBRAI truck to transport my bags and to just ‘tent it’. Question is…. how hard is this process? How do you find your stuff in the middle of a 1000 other bags? How are the campgrounds set up? I’m not the fastest rider on the block (hey, at least I make it) so are there usually plenty of tent spaces available? Could someone walk me through this?

14 Replies

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Jack in VA, February 20, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Just follow the RAGBRAI signs into town and you’ll find the “designated RAGBRAI” campsite- parked near this area will be the semi-trailers used for hauling luggage. The luggage is unloaded into a fenced in area. Unfortunately, it will also be stacked inside this area so you may have to do a little diving to find yours. However, if you are one of the later riders, most of the luggage will be claimed by the time you get in so it will be easier to find your bag. Always remember WHICH trailer your stuff went in, and try to approximate where your luggage was on the truck as it is unleaded LAST IN – FIRST OUT on the ground. Campgrounds are usually nearby the trailer area – you just have to search out a spot to stake your claim. I suggest you (a) find the campground / trailer area (2) drop your bike and helmet in the area you want to stick your tent and then (3) go find the luggage and set it up in your spot. Otherwise you’ll be dragging your luggage AND your bike while trying to find a sleeping spot.
You will still have a blast though!

#477601

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murphymp, February 20, 2013 at 4:47 pm

If you don’t mind spending some extra money I would suggest a charter. There are many that offer different services at different costs. I use Brancel Bicycle Charter and find them great. Others will tell you similar things about other charters. They all make it easier to enjoy the ride.

#477619

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Iceman, February 20, 2013 at 5:17 pm

Let’s be honest here. Using the DMR truck is an extreme hassle. First, there are literally thousands of bags. Second, you have to drag your bag and your bike to East Godzilla or beyond to your chosen campsite – and remember you will be doing this rain or shine, likely tired and hot. Third, you gotta do it in reverse the next morning. Fourth – if it is raining, your stuff is wet – hope you bagged it all inside your duffle.

Take a charter. They come cheap if you want no frills, a bit more expensive as you add on the services.

Do not use the DMR truck. It’s your vacation and unless you have the strength and endurance of an urban sanitation worker, you’ll just be hot, tired, sweaty and maybe wet, all in a noisy campsite you did not want anyway.

#477620

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Tsnap Xip, February 20, 2013 at 5:47 pm

+1 on the charter. I think you’ll find it much more convenient. I’ve heard that Brancel and Pork Belly Ventures are good.

#477635

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kurmdgn, February 20, 2013 at 10:09 pm

Actually I always used the DMR truck. It’s not a big1 hassle as some would describe.
Pack your gear up including your tent. 1 big duffle bagtohold everything, I never trust
strapping anything on the outside. When you are all packed and ready in the AM walk
it over and up the ramp. There is a big clk by the ramp so note the time. Put it on the truck
and leave.

When you get to overnight town, follow the many signs to the main ccampground. This
past year you just look for the semi trailer next to the blowup figure. Park your bike 1st
where you want to camp. I rarely been more than say 200 yards from the truck but you
mileage may vary. Walk over to the fenced in area, tell themthe time you loaded up and
they will get you within feet of your bag.

Grab your bag and go setup. Truck will load up the next morning from the same place.

And as to gear getting wet, common sense is to put everything in the duffle in a plastibag(s).

Anyway, I hav always been satisfied and had a happy vacation…

#477690

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mootsman, February 21, 2013 at 7:16 am

Try finding a team with their own baggage truck and/or bus. Its like a charter but much smaller. Easier to find your luggage and its parked at a campsite that is not shared by several hundred others like a charter. Friends that are on teams would be a good start.

#477744

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IndianHillsTed, February 21, 2013 at 8:14 am

I’ve used them in the past and am on the fence for this year.

I think the biggest hassle with using the trucks is having to finish early to get a good site. I think we were always trying to finish by 3:30 when I would have liked to finish closer to 5:00. When it’s really hot I’d much rather be out on my bike than sitting at the hot campsite.

#477746

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trek15rider, February 21, 2013 at 11:09 am

I agree with murphymp, Brancel is a great way to go! There are other charters (michrider I know your feelings are VERY strong when it comes to PBV :)) but if cost and convenience are issues for you Brancel is hard to beat. Check em out and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Sure makes a great ride even more enjoyable!

See you in July.

#477776

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Frannie N., February 21, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Thanks for all the advice everybody!!! I’ve checked out Brancel and am filling out application as we speak! 😀 They look great. I actually signed up with PBV last year, sorry, but they were REALLY expensive…. ended up cancelling, but only because my friends got the camper. Was glad when I saw the sheer number of PBV’ers…. close to a 1000 I’m told. TOO big a group for me. 😉
Brancel looks perfect for what I’m looking for.
Again, thank you all!!

#477821

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Iceman, February 22, 2013 at 9:45 am

“I actually signed up with PBV last year, sorry, but they were REALLY expensive” “. Was glad when I saw the sheer number of PBV’ers…. close to a 1000 I’m told. TOO big a group for me.”

Frannie – I’m sure Brancel is a great charter operation (never used them) but I’ve heard your quotes too many times to let them go unanswered.

You have to compare apples to apples. I see that basic camping/baggage with Brancel is $185 and last year PBV was, I think, about $350 or $375 – can’t remember. If you want showers, towels, coffee, let’s say 3 evening meals with Brancel, they are extra. And you’re going to pay to eat and shower whether you pay PBV or Brancel or someone else.

Point is, when you start breaking down totals what you wind up paying for during the week, you wind up paying out in cash about the same amount whether it’s to PBV or Brancel or Bubba’s Pedallers, etc. I’ve done it several different ways and the only way you’ll save money is if you suffer through using the DMR bus – and that’s not worth it.

As to the 1000 PBV’ers, I heard last year 900 but so what? I’ve ridden with PBV when they only took 350 riders and last year with 900. You know what? You wind up associating with your friends that came with you and a few “new friends” each year – but the number stays the same whether PBV is carrying 350 or 900. I’ve ridden other week long rides – same result. And the number of people on the road at RAGBRAI will always be huge, so under your logic you would avoid RAGBRAI and go ride a smaller 7 day ride.

And if anything, as the numbers using PBV have increased, my impression is that the lines (at showers, meals, etc.) have gone down for most part since PBV has geared up from an equipment and personnel standpoint.

My point? Pick a charter that your riding buddies like and you’ll have fun. You’ll wind up spending about the same no matter which charter you use for basic services and if you want, you can pay more to Bubba’s or PBV, etc. and go in first class instead of coach.

#477953

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RonB, February 22, 2013 at 10:44 am

Not trying to talk anyone into or out of any charter (or going the Register’s baggage truck), but I’ve done Brancel and OOS and they both gave me everything I needed.

And to reply to iceman’s cost comparison….now my ‘rithmatic may be little weak, but even with his low estimate for PBV, that’s $165 difference. You can buy a whole lot of evening meals, coffee, showers, etc. for that. You’ve decided Brancel is the way you are going, and I’d bet you won’t be disappointed.

#477969

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trek15rider, February 22, 2013 at 11:53 am

I’m with RonB on this; this year Brancel’s basic package is $185. PBV’s charge this year is $395. Now that does include some extras – 3 dinners at camp, a dry fit T shirt, showers and towels, but when you do the math that comes to about a $100 value give or take. There’s a $210 difference in the two “basic” packages. To be honest I’ve never done a trip with PBV and I suspect they’re very good at what they do. I’m definitely not saying anything negative about them. The folks that have used them seem to really like them, but there are other charters out there that do good jobs too. I have gone with Brancel and you will not be disappointed with them. They just provide you the option of a quality charter service, with definitely all you need and then some, at a lower price. Frannie N you’ve done the math and you recognize there is a difference. Hope it all works out for you one way or the other and you have another great RAGBRAI experience.

#477970

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Roger White, February 22, 2013 at 10:14 pm

Cedar Valley Cyclists out of Waterloo, Iowa has reasonable charter plans. I have ridden with them for a dozen years.
Visit the CVC website at:
CedarValleyCyclists.org/ and click RAGBRAI® Registration
or contact Cedar Valley Cyclists RAGBRAI® contacts Randy, Roger or Brian at: ragbrai@CedarValleyCyclists.org/

The packages include: PLAN A – an all inclusive package with charter bus transportation of rider, bikes and gear to Council Bluffs and from Fort Madison back to Cedar Falls; baggage hauling between each of the overnight towns; camping, showers, large canopy and other amenities as well as friendly socializing at each overnight campground. A second PLAN B has the same amenities without the charter bus to and from the RAGBRAI® route ends. Other options are available, including week-long or daily rates. You can also either obtain your RAGBRAI® wristband and bike band yourself, or register through the club. Cedar Valley Cyclists is among the oldest bike clubs in Iowa and has successfully provided members the RAGBRAI® charter service for many years.

#478042

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buttercupdog, February 23, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Still not sure what I am going to choose, but thank you all for the very useful information! 🙂

#478178

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