What is RAGBRAI?
RAGBRAI, The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, is an annual seven-day bicycle ride across the state. Heading into its 48th year, RAGBRAI is the oldest, largest and longest recreational bicycle touring event in the world.
In the beginning, no one imagined that RAGBRAI would become the Iowa tradition it is now. We at The Des Moines Register thank all the riders who have joined us over the years. We especially wish to thank the thousands and thousands of volunteers in the towns we’ve visited along the way for their tireless work to show RAGBRAI riders the hospitality that has made our ride world famous.
We encourage you to follow the application procedures and come along only if you are accepted as a registered rider. It is crucial that we keep our number of riders at the level suggested by the Iowa State Patrol and the Iowa Department of Transportation for the safety of all riders. We thank you for your cooperation.
For those of you who have never ridden, this rolling celebration of Iowa attracts participants from all 50 states and many foreign countries. It has covered thousands of miles through the years, and hundreds of thousands of riders have hopped in the saddle to pedal part of those miles.
RAGBRAI is a bicycle ride, not a race. It started in 1973 as a six-day ride across the state of Iowa by two Des Moines Register columnists who invited a few friends along. It is held the last full week in July. RAGBRAI is planned and coordinated by The Des Moines Register, and riders who participate in RAGBRAI understand that they do so at their own risk.
The RAGBRAI route averages 468 miles and is not necessarily flat. It begins somewhere along Iowa’s western border on the Missouri River and ends along the eastern border on the Mississippi River. We change the route each year and announce the overnight towns in late January at the RAGBRAI Route Announcement Party, in The Des Moines Register and on our website.
Eight Iowa communities along the RAGBRAI route serve as “host” communities for overnight stays. RAGBRAI is a guest in these communities and we ask our riders to behave as such.
The people of Iowa truly make RAGBRAI the special event that it is by opening up their towns and communities to participants. We hope you can enjoy this Iowa hospitality and join us for a memorable trip across the state.
You may enter online or print an application from our website at www.ragbrai.com. If registering via paper, see the Paper Application section below. The application is posted on the website Nov. 15 for the next summer’s event, and the week-long rider online deadline for application and payment is April 1 (or Feb. 15 if completing a manual/paper application). If you are not able to print an entry form, you may request one by mailing a request to RAGBRAI, 400 Locust Street – Suite 500, Des Moines, IA 50309, or by e-mailing email@example.com.
The event is seven days of riding with an average of 67 miles per day through the Iowa countryside. You may enter as a rider or a non-rider. Anyone not riding a bicycle (a support vehicle driver, family members, or friends riding in a vehicle) must enter as a non-rider. A week-long rider fee is $175 (plus tax); a week-long non-rider fee is $35 (plus tax). A vehicle permit is $40 (plus tax) for personal vehicles or trucks, and $75 (plus tax) for an RV or Bus. See section on Vehicle Pass Instructions for Support Vehicle Drivers.
Instead of registering to ride for the week, participants may enter for daily rider wristbands. The daily wristband fee for one day is $30 (plus tax) for riders. Daily wristbands are not subject to the lottery process and are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.
The RAGBRAI entry form allows you to enter as an individual or enter a group of more than one person for purposes of the lottery. Group registrations will only be accepted online; paper applications will not be processed as a group. In order to be considered in the lottery as a group, all participants must enter as a group of more than one person, and appoint one person to be the GROUP CONTACT. The group contact will manage the group, order and pay for vehicle pass(es), close the group, accept delivery of the group wristband package, and distribute the member’s wristbands and merchandise.
RAGBRAI will accept electronically signed waivers. Electronic waivers will only be accepted for registrants who are 18 years of age or older at the time their registration is submitted. If you are under the age of 18 at the time of registration, you and your parents/guardians are required to submit a signed RAGBRAI minor waiver (both pages); original copy only, faxed or scanned waivers will not be accepted. The entry deadline is April 1. The entry form and payment must be submitted on or before the deadline to be considered for the lottery. RAGBRAI is not responsible for delayed, lost or misplaced entry forms, waivers or payments.
Mail completed paper applications and minor waivers to:
400 Locust Street, Suite 500
Des Moines, IA 50309
CLUB AND TEAM GUIDELINES FOR RAGBRAI (*Adobe Reader Required)
If you are entering as an individual, you will have a choice of paying online with a credit card or mailing your check or money order directly to RAGBRAI. Members of a group will pay online when they register or pay the group contact. Group contacts will determine whether group members will pay online or provide payment to them. The group contact will close the group and pay for all vehicle passes at that time.
Only one entry is allowed per person. If any person sends a duplicate request, everyone on each entry on which that person’s name appears also will be rejected. Please be fair to everyone and enter the drawing only once.
Paper applications are available beginning November 15. The deadline to submit a paper application is February 15. An application and payment must be mailed to the RAGBRAI Office by the deadline.
400 Locust Street, Suite 500
Des Moines, IA 50309
Paper applications can only be completed for individual registrations. Those who register manually with paper cannot register as a group or apply for a vehicle pass. If a group registration or vehicle pass is needed, then the group must register online.
Paper applicants will not receive a notification of their lottery standing and will not be able to check the status of their registration online. Those who register via paper can call or email the RAGBRAI Office after May 1 for lottery information. 515 284 8341 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Each paper application is subject to a $20 processing fee. The processing fee includes sales tax. A registration submitted online is not subject to a processing fee. To avoid paying a processing fee, an applicant may create a RAGBRAI user account and register online.
RAGBRAI is limited to approximately 8,500 week-long riders and 1,500 day riders. Entries can exceed the number of riders allowed, so a random computer lottery takes place after all of the entries are entered in the computer. You must register and provide payment in order to be considered for the lottery. Just because your check is cashed or your credit card is charged does not mean you were selected in the lottery. If not selected, you will receive a full refund in the form of a check.
RAGBRAI had too many entries over the past few years and has had to turn away riders in the lottery. The odds of getting in the lottery are very high, but certainly not 100%. Entries that miss the deadline will not be entered into the lottery.
The computer lottery can select individuals or groups of more than one person, so that people who wish to participate together are not split up. In order to be considered in the lottery as a group, the members of a group must register as a group, and appoint one person to be the GROUP CONTACT. That person accepting is responsible for sending one payment to cover all costs of the group, registering vehicles if desired, taking delivery of the group’s Participant Packet in June, and distributing the participants’ credentials and merchandise.
For week-long riders it is not on a first-come, first-served basis. Everyone who completes registration process between November 15 and April 1 will be included in the lottery. Day riders are not subject to the lottery.
You will receive an email with your wristband number on May 1 if you are selected in the lottery. In addition, you may access your wristband number via your profile on RAGBRAI.com under Registration Status anytime after May 1.
The Participant Packet with your credentials and a Participant Guide will arrive by July 1. If you registered with a group or team, your GROUP CONTACT will receive your credentials for distribution. If you were rejected, you will receive a full refund of your fee in the mail within 4-6 weeks after the conclusion of the lottery.
If others in your group were selected and your name does not appear in the Lottery Results, a data entry error may have occurred so it is extremely important that you complete the registration form carefully and double check your work. E-mail email@example.com to find out if a data entry error has been made.
The baggage tag permits you to put your bag on RAGBRAI’s baggage semitruck. Your bag must be clearly marked and can be claimed only by showing that the number on your wristband matches the number on your baggage tag. The tags allow for multiple wristband numbers to be entered so spouses/friends can pick up their party’s bags at the same time.
Daily riders must write their wristband number(s) on their baggage tag.
Although each rider is allowed one large, soft texture bag, you may bundle or strap together a tent, sleeping bag or duffel bag and count it as one. We cannot accept wood or hard plastic luggage or bike cases. Bags should weigh no more than 50 pounds. A scale will be on-hand to weigh over-weight bags.
Your baggage will be exposed to the elements, so please pack items accordingly. Click here for a brief video on what to pack for RAGBRAI.
Be sure to have your gear at the RAGBRAI baggage semitruck before 8 a.m. The RAGBRAI baggage semitruck leaves promptly at 8 a.m. with no exceptions. You will need to walk your baggage onto the truck in the mornings, however, your baggage will be unloaded for you in the afternoon. A horn will sound 15 minutes before leaving time. The trucks will load where they unloaded the day before. We will not be responsible for baggage left at the semitruck in the mornings before it is open nor after 6 p.m. Baggage security is provided from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. only.
The RAGBRAI Baggage Trucks are located in the Main Campground in each overnight host town. The bike route is marked from Main Campground to Main Campground. Follow the Orange Bike arrows through town and they will lead you to the Main Campground each day.
Be sure to include money for bicycle parts and repairs and other incidentals in your planning for the week. Bicycle repair will be available along the route and in the campgrounds. Bicycle repair locations will be well marked on the RAGBRAI bike maps. Repair shops in the overnight towns the following morning will be located on the route out of town, typically within the first mile of the route.
Sanctioned shops have signs that say, OFFICIAL RAGBRAI BICYCLE SHOP, and sell official RAGBRAI T-shirts, souvenirs, bicycling equipment, accessories and helmets.
To signal that you need help on the route, turn your bicycle upside down or “wheels up” on the left hand side of the road and motion a “thumbs down” signal to let an approaching bicycle repair van or a sag wagon know that you need help.
Be sure to have a safety check done on your bike before you arrive to ride!
If you will be shipping your bicycle to the starting town, or shipping it home from the ending town after the ride, here are some helpful suggestions to follow. For additional information, see our Bike and Luggage Shipping page.
- Bike boxes should be marked “ASSEMBLE” or “DO NOT ASSEMBLE.” This saves the receiving shop confusion, time and money for you when you arrive to pick up your bike.
- Boxes AND bikes should be labeled to identify ownership. This is very important to verify owners during pickup.
- Phone numbers and email addresses should be included with labeling. A quick call or email to the owner is sometimes necessary to confirm shipment or report damage.
- Only registered participants may take advantage of this benefit.
The following companies are independent of the Des Moines Register and RAGBRAI officials. All arrangements are made between you and the shipping company and do not involve the Des Moines Register and RAGBRAI Officials.
SENDMYBIKE.com has been serving RAGBRAI riders since 2010, offering full-service bike and luggage shipping at great prices. The owners have been on RAGBRAI as riders and charter operators for more than 30 years. They know RAGBRAI.
If you would like to inquire about renting a bicycle that will be set-up for you and delivered to the starting town of RAGBRAI, we are working to provide options. Please check back regularly for detailed information.
Camping areas will be set aside by each community on school grounds, county fairgrounds and/or city parks and are large enough to accommodate all registered riders. It’s possible that some communities will not have space available to accommodate all vehicles at the main tent campground, so support vehicles may be directed to a separate campground.
If you have a vehicle pass and are bringing a self-contained motor home, you need to be aware that the campgrounds will not be equipped with electrical or water hook-ups. All overnight communities will, however, have a designated dumping station. Additionally, if you will be operating a generator in the campgrounds, please be courteous of your fellow tent campers.
Campgrounds must be quiet after 9 p.m. Late-night noisemakers will be asked to leave the campgrounds. Camping will be available in the ending town on the Friday night before the ride begins and on the Saturday night the ride ends.
Daily wristbands may be purchased by completing the regular RAGBRAI entry form. Entry form and payment must be received by June 1st for daily riders. Day wristbands are $30 (plus tax) per day. After June 1st, day wristbands can be purchased on the ride, if still available. Day wristbands are not subject to the lottery process. Wristband packets for daily riders will be sent by USPS Priority Mail before the ride if ordered before June 1st.
A daily wristband is valid only on the day for which it is issued. Daily riders are entitled to sag wagon and medical services for that day. These services are not available on any day for which a wristband is not purchased. For example, if you have a daily wristband for Monday only, but continue to ride, you would not be entitled to SAG wagon service.
Day riders are provided with the use of RAGBRAI’s baggage service for the day of their wristband. However, baggage tags for daily riders are not numbered. Day riders who wish to use the baggage service should write their wristband number(s) on the baggage tag. Wristband numbers must be listed on the baggage tag for ALL days that they wish to use baggage service. You will have a different wristband number and color for each day. Day riders will NOT receive a free patch certificate.
The Des Moines Register, RAGBRAI and the host communities do not provide shuttle service to daily riders at the end of the day. You are responsible for finding your own way back to your car.
Emergency Medical Treatment
Medical teams (staff with paramedics and doctors) patrol the bicycle route and emergency medical treatment will be available in each campground. Four ambulances, a motorcycle first-responder are on the route each day from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m.
The RAGBRAI Expo is the annual bicycle trade show that kicks off RAGBRAI featuring the newest and latest in bicycling and associated industries. The Expo takes place in the starting town on the Saturday afternoon before the ride begins. All RAGBRAI participants, friends, family and community residents are invited. It’s FREE for all to attend!
The annual Expo features RAGBRAI’s official bike shops, bicycle, and equipment manufacturers from around the country and retailers that are associated with the cycling world. Come see the latest in cycling technology and the newest products on the market. It’s also a great place to check out and demo the latest bikes from the world’s top manufacturers, pick up a new pair of cycling shorts, a RAGBRAI souvenir or have that new bike computer installed that you’ve been thinking about.
It’s a Don’t Miss Event!
First Time Support Vehicle Drivers
Participating in RAGBRAI as a support vehicle driver could be addictive. (You may catch the RAGBRAI bug like everyone else.)
Drivers are expected to attend an informational meeting held in the starting town the day before RAGBRAI departs.
Bring an Iowa state road map along. It can be very helpful to supplement the support vehicle map RAGBRAI provides and will assist you in determining which roads you should be driving. Do not rely on your GPS navigation system or web-based directions such as MapQwest as many roads will be closed for RAGBRAI traffic.
You may find it helpful to check in with the Information Center at every overnight town and post your camp location. This helps your group find out where you’re camping, and also gives the Information Center volunteers an idea of where to find you if they should need to notify you about someone in your group.
Please be courteous. You are a guest in the community and should act like one. Turn your generators off when they’re not needed. It is hard to enjoy the great outdoors with the fumes and noise of multiple generators.
Be patient. There will be lines everywhere you go, even when you’re driving.
Be careful. When driving a large straight truck or pulling a trailer, be especially aware of what or who is behind or beside your vehicle. Overhead clearance is critical. Remember, you may have a bike rack on top of your vehicle that could hit tree branches or signs.
Share. You are sharing camping sites with more than 10,000 bikers. Give every one his/her space.
Be neat. Encourage your group to pick up after themselves. Have garbage bags on hand for trash. Before you leave in the morning, walk your area. You’ll find the misplaced billfold, watch, sunglasses, and bike computer. Your group will appreciate your efforts.
Always buckle up and don’t drink alcoholic beverages if you’re going to be driving.
Make sure you’re getting plenty of rest the night before driving so you stay sharp. Drowsiness can lead to becoming distracted and inattentive.
Have a safe and fun trip!
Friends of RAGBRAI
The Friends of RAGBRAI program is a marketing program allowing both national and Iowa-based companies the opportunity to partner with RAGBRAI. The goal is to recruit companies with products or services that benefit RAGBRAI riders or host communities. For more information about becoming a Friend of RAGBRAI, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
You must remember that RAGBRAI is a camping event and private in-home housing should not be expected. If you do write to overnight host towns for housing accommodations, expect to pay $3 to help cover their expenses. Remember to include the names and wristband numbers of everyone in your group, a brief description of your group’s make-up; whether you want a bed or floor space; if you’re a smoker or non-smoker; male or female; if you want camping space in their back yard or a place to park a vehicle or RV. Private Housing is for registered riders only. If you arrive with unregistered campers, your hosts may turn your group away.
Housing applications will appear on the Overnight Town’s Web site beginning May 1st. PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT THE TOWNS PRIOR TO THIS DATE OR IT WILL JEOPARDIZE YOUR ENTRY.
You will have the opportunity to apply for housing with the overnight towns after May 1. You will need to be registered before April 1 and have your wristband number when applying. You will not be guaranteed housing but the towns will do the best they can to fill as many requests as they can. RAGBRAI is mainly a camping event and there is free camping in the RAGBRAI campground for all registered riders
How to Ride RAGBRAI
Concentrate first on learning how to ride safely and with endurance. RAGBRAI likely will be one of the most physically difficult things that you’ve ever attempted.
Always stretch before and after riding.
Have your bike in the best mechanical condition possible. A touring or road bike is going to be the easiest to ride and is the most common type found on RAGBRAI. A hybrid bike will be easier to ride than a mountain bike.
Safety involves several items. The first is your helmet. DON’T GET ON A BIKE WITHOUT A HELMET. Safety equipment also includes gloves. If you fall they protect the palms of your hands. Riding safely is very important and very difficult to learn because there is no other ride like RAGBRAI in terms of just numbers of bikes. Have a mirror on your helmet or your bike and use it.
Carry a spare inner tube in case you have a flat. There are repair vans along the route, but chances are you will be waiting in line. Even if you do not have the knowledge to change a tire yourself, someone will be glad to help.
The greatest threat to your well-being on the route is not cars or trucks but other cyclists. Many riders may be riding for the first time surrounded by thousands of other cyclists. And, while this circumstance promotes a certain euphoria, it also holds hidden dangers, i.e., running into each other and falling down.
Before you stop, make sure no bicycles or motor vehicles are immediately behind you. Stop at the right edge of the roadway and immediately move to the shoulder. Stay clear of the roadway. Stopping is especially dangerous at the crest of a hill or on a curve.
Call out to fellow cyclists when you are going to pass on the left or right or up the middle, or are pulling off or pulling on.
Be predictable and don’t weave. Ride in a straight line to make it easier for those riding behind you.
Don’t draft. Drafting in a crowd is dangerous to yourself and others around you. There is no place for it on RAGBRAI. Drafting vehicles is also dangerous and will not be tolerated on RAGBRAI.
Ride to the right. Leave room for others to pass on your left. There have been many close calls and at least one serious accident because a passing rider was forced into the lane with oncoming traffic.
To learn what the signage on the ride means, click here to review the RIDE RIGHT road signs.
Food and Hydration
While on your bike, be sure to carry with you at least enough money to buy the all-important food. Food, both standard fare and the unusual, is available at every turn. RAGBRAI is a major economic boost to every church, Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop, 4-H club, VFW post, etc. that it passes. It is not unusual to spend $35 per day on food and drink. Remember you “eat today to ride tomorrow.”
You also should carry some type of high energy food. (Usually, food is available when you want it, but there are times when you may need a boost.)
Don’t put yourself in danger because you’re not drinking enough fluids. The temperature, wind, distance and previous day’s events will determine your need for fluids. One rule of thumb is that a bicyclist should drink water every 15 minutes, but water is not enough. You should carry at least two water bottles with you. Because we sweat and lose those precious minerals when we exercise, we have to replace them through sports drinks and other fluids. And since certain beverages can hinder the effectiveness of some important vitamins and minerals, it’s a good idea to have some vitamins on hand.
Sugar and carbohydrates keep your body going on RAGBRAI, but don’t try to eat them all at one sitting. It’s much better to eat several times a day than to try to pedal on a full stomach. And, as all seasoned RAGBRAI riders know, there’s always a food stand just up ahead.
The Information Center for each town is always located in the main tent campgrounds. This is where you can leave notes for people, find information about the town, ask riders questions and find Information Center volunteers. Teams may check-in at the Information Center when they arrive in town and give the volunteers your camping location so that others may find you. Also, the Register’s RAGBRAI Information and Merchandise stand is always parked near the Information Center in the campgrounds. RAGBRAI staffers will be happy to answer all your questions.
Lost and Found
The RAGBRAI Information and Merchandise Trailer in the main campground also serves as the Lost and Found site during the ride. If you have misplaced something during the ride, be sure to check periodically at this trailer. You will need to show your wristband to retrieve lost and found items.
Sometimes found items are reported to the RAGBRAI office after the ride ends, so you can e-mail us at email@example.com. You will be asked to supply your wristband number in addition to a brief description of the item that you lost.
Food and drink will be available in bountiful amounts at a very nominal cost in the campgrounds, in churches and restaurants, and along the route. Concessions that are officially sanctioned will be identified by a sign reading, OFFICIAL RAGBRAI VENDOR. A discount will usually be offered when you show your participant wristband. Please support the officially-sanctioned concessions and be sure to bring along enough money to cover your meals and beverages for the week. Plan on about $35 a day. RAGBRAI is primarily a cash-only event, credit cards are accepted by only a few of the vendors.
RAGBRAI Information and Merchandise Trailers will be located near the town’s Information Center in each main campground, as well as a downtown trailer in each host community. RAGBRAI memorabilia such as posters, jerseys, mugs, patches, pins, pens, jewelry and caps may be purchased at these stands.
RAGBRAI merchandise can also be purchased online at ragbrai.com/shop
Minors on RAGBRAI
All minors must be accompanied by responsible adults during the ride, preferably their parents.
Legal Drinking Age
If you plan to have an alcoholic beverage during RAGBRAI, be prepared to prove that you are of legal age. Legal drinking age in Iowa is 21 years. Local establishments and community-sponsored beverage tents where alcoholic beverages are sold will not accept the excuse that bikers wearing biking gear have no way to carry the necessary identification. They may issue a colorful wristband to individuals who are of legal drinking age but have a youthful appearance. If you are under 21 and are found with alcoholic beverages in your possession, you will be prosecuted and sent home! We appreciate your cooperation.
It’s a rare child who can pedal all of RAGBRAI before the age of 12. Children recover quickly, but a day of adverse weather will wipe them out.
It takes a truly superior child to pedal a mountain bike with knobby tires across the state. If a road bike isn’t in your budget, consider buying slicks for the mountain bike.
You just about have to force a child to eat well to have the strength for all seven days. And push water. A child who will drink only Gatorade will keep you standing in line at an ATM.
A colorful T-shirt will help child and parent keep track of each other on the route and in the pass-through towns. Have firm meeting places. Town squares, third food stop on the right, fire department. It’s incredibly easy to get separated from your group.
Helmet mirrors are a great investment to keep an eye on the children (or even adult riding partners).
Trail-a-bikes and bike trailers for children under 5 are allowed on the ride. Infants traveling in a trailer need not be registered, but a child riding a trail-a-bike does need to register. Make sure your child wears a helmet. Please note that the SAG vehicles do not carry child seats, so any youth young enough to require a child seat cannot be picked up by a SAG vehicle.
Official Rider Benefits
Having your entry selected in the lottery makes you an officially registered participant entitled to the following benefits:
- Four ambulances and paramedic teams on the route each day.
- Traffic controlled by Iowa State Patrol officers at select high traffic intersections throughout the day.
- Baggage transported from overnight-to-overnight community and unloaded for participants at the end of each day.
- Free SAG service, which patrols the route to pick up riders who break down either physically or mechanically.
- Ten bicycle repair shops dispersed throughout the route, and additional repair services available in the campgrounds during the day and in the evenings. Participants will pay for their own repairs, however, the shops will offer discounts for registered participants on all repairs, accessories and RAGBRAI apparel.
- Provision for camping locations in each host community, in addition to food vending areas, shuttle services, shower services and entertainment.
- Portable toilets with hand-washing stations distributed among the official campgrounds.
- Route maps handed out at the community Information Centers and the RAGBRAI Merchandise and Information Trailers.
- Colorful and distinct, route signs that mark the bike route and the separate support vehicle route.
- A free embroidered patch for week-long riders.
- Bicycle shipping stations at the end of the ride.
- Opportunity to join one of RAGBRAI’s Charters.
- Opportunity to utilize long-term parking in the starting or ending town. Long-term parking service will be denied for individuals not registered for RAGBRAI.
- Gifts for registered support vehicle drivers who attend the training meeting on the Saturday before the ride starts.
- Discounts at food vendors, bicycle repair shops, merchandise booths, and shower facilities for all registered participants displaying their wristbands. Displaying the wristband also will give you access to SAG service, bicycle shop repairs and many other services.
- The annual Expo on the Saturday before the ride starts. The Expo features the latest in bicycle equipment, accessories and apparel.
- A free Karras Loop patch for registered participants who complete the optional Karras Loop (while supplies last).
You will need to wear your wristband at all times on the ride for ID purposes and because discounts will be offered to wristbanded participants by most towns. Most Official RAGBRAI Vendors will have discounts on food and merchandise. In the overnight towns, you will receive discounts for showers, shuttle service and other products. Your wristband also will give you access to SAG wagons, bicycle shop repairs and many other services.
Parking at the Starting Town and Ending Town
Participants wishing to leave their vehicles in the starting or the ending town for the week will be provided with the cost and location of a parking area in the Participant Guide for registered riders and also on the RAGBRAI Web site link for the towns. Liability for damage and/or stolen goods is the responsibility of the vehicle owner. Long-term parking service will be denied for individuals not registered for RAGBRAI. You do not need to purchase a RAGBRAI vehicle pass for this service, but you must be a registered rider.
All participant packets will be shipped prior to July 1. Your participant packet will be shipped to the address listed on your RAGBRAI profile if you are registered as an individual, or to the address of the group contact if you are registered as a member of a group. For those who registered online, you will receive a shipping notification when your packet is shipped. If you registered with a group, the shipping notification will be sent to the Group Contact. (Please note all international participant packets will be held for pick-up at the RAGBRAI Expo).
If you are a single rider and did not send your entry along with any others, the Participant Packet is mailed directly to you. Enclosed in the participant packet, you will find OFFICIAL RAGBRAI IDENTIFICATION that contains a unique identification number. You will receive your wristband credentials and any jerseys, shorts, or bibs ordered with registration. If you are a week-long rider, you will find a numbered rider wristband, bike band and baggage tag, unnumbered bike license plate and a redeemable patch certificate. Daily riders will receive a different colored numbered wristband for each day selected, and an unnumbered bike band, bike license plate and luggage tag.
If you ordered a souvenir pack with registration, you will be sent your t-shirt and water bottle. The poster will be sent directly to the participant separately. The RAGBRAI DVD will be sent directly to the participant after the ride.
If you are a non-rider, you will receive a numbered non-rider wristband only.
If you are a Group Contact, you will receive all credentials (as described above for week-long, daily and non-riders) and merchandise ordered for each member of your group, along with any vehicle passes you requested. It is the responsibility of the Group Contact who receives the participant packet to carefully distribute these items to the proper rider or non-rider. There is a participant guide for each rider. Each of the items are labeled to help you figure out whether you are looking at a bike band or a wristband. You will find a printout in your packet that details which number is assigned to which individual in your group.
Any correspondence to The Des Moines Register’s RAGBRAI office should include the unique identification number assigned, along with the person’s name, address and telephone number.
RAGBRAI is not responsible for lost, stolen or misplaced participant packets. All participant packets will be shipped prior to July 1. RAGBRAI will provide each participant and/or group contact with a tracking number for their respective participant packet. For online applicants, the tracking number will be emailed to the email address on your profile on the date that the packet is shipped. Paper applicants will not receive a shipping notification. Each individual participant and/or group contact is/are responsible for the receipt of the participant packet. If your packet has not been received and it has been determined that the packet was lost in transit, please notify the RAGBRAI office sometime after July 4, but before July 12. We will have a replacement packet for you to pick up at the registration table at the expo. If your wristbands were damaged during the shipping process, please bring the damaged wristbands to the RAGBRAI Expo to request replacement wristbands.
Wristband and Bike Band Instructions
NOTE: Do not put the wristband on until the week of RAGBRAI. The only way to remove it is to cut the band or ruin the snap. If the snap was ruined in the mail or a part of it is missing, stop by the RAGBRAI trailer in the campground with the broken band for replacement. The wristband is to be worn on the wrist, not attached to the bike, an ankle or hanging from a key chain.
You must attach the bike band to your bike so we can identify your bike as a registered bike. The bike band should be fastened on the top bar of your bicycle. You bicycle will not be picked up by SAG wagons or if you needed medical assistance if the bike band is not attached.
- Insert one finger behind snap when closing to exert pressure and create the proper “comfort space” for the wearer.
- Cut off band excess.
Please print your name and team name or hometown on the plate and hang it from the back of your bike seat. It is our hope that the bike plates will encourage conversation and introductions among riders.
Refunds and Selling or Transferring Tags
Registration fees will become nonrefundable after April 1. To request a refund, contact the RAGBRAI office at firstname.lastname@example.org by April 1. A $25 processing fee per applicant is deducted for refunds.
The assignment of numbers on the credentials coincide with the entry and waiver/release of liability that you signed, RAGBRAI is not in the business of reselling credentials. The wristband credentials will be sent to the original owner. The transfer of money and credentials is between the two parties involved. The sale of ride credentials is a private transaction, and RAGBRAI is not responsible for misunderstandings between the two parties, misplaced credentials, or the failure to transfer the credentials into the new owner’s name. The week-long credential items include a numbered wristband, bike band and baggage tag, and an unnumbered bike license plate and redeemable patch certificate.
A resold credential will not be valid unless it is officially transferred in the RAGBRAI office to the new owner before the event begins. This procedure not only transfers the wristband, but also the liability associated with it. To transfer a wristband, the new owner of the wristband must complete an online transfer form and submit waiver before the start of the ride in order to properly transfer the wristband to their name. If the online transfer form and waiver are not completed, the wristband and the liability for it will remain in the original purchaser’s name.
MESSAGE BOARD on www.ragbrai.com
Many times people post messages looking to sell or buy credentials in our RAGBRAI forum. You might be able to find a person that is looking to sell and transfer their credentials on the RAGBRAI message board. If you do purchase credentials through a private sale, the credentials MUST be transferred. If you are a member of a group, contact your group contact first. The group contact might have someone to purchase your wristband credentials.
E-mail RAGBRAI at email@example.com if you have questions about this procedure.
We suggest that you consider purchasing travel insurance. To receive a free quote visit the web site http://www.silentsportsinsurance.com/iTravel.aspx or seek other companies that might insure your travels.
Ride Hours, Daily Route and Traffic Control Ride Hours
6 a.m. is considered the official RAGBRAI start time when you may begin riding. Safety and medical support services monitor the route between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. On the final day, Saturday, the route closes at 4 p.m.
Be sure to check on the official RAGBRAI bike map for service times for each town on the route. If you race ahead, lag behind or leave the official bicycle route, services will not be available to you. Riding in the dark on unknown roads without support is foolish, even if you have lights.
Ride at a speed that will enable you to finish each day well in advance of sundown.
Daily Route Maps/Marking
The complete week of daily route maps, with mileage between pass-through towns and other information, will be available at campground Information Centers as well as at the RAGBRAI’s Information and Merchandise Trailers in downtown and in the main campground. The route for the day is published each morning in The Des Moines Register available in the campgrounds. The route is not closed to vehicular traffic but, by publishing the maps, drivers can plan to use other highways while the riders are in the area.
The bike route will be marked each day with bright orange arrows and patrolled by emergency medical crews, the Iowa State Patrol and RAGBRAI personnel. Bright green arrows will be used to mark the vehicle route in and out of town.
Each day, one of the pass-through towns is designated as a meeting town for you and your riders. We will indicate on the support vehicle map the routes into the meeting towns that you may use to meet your riders and enjoy the hospitality of the local residents. Bright pink arrows will be used to direct support vehicles to and from the designated meeting town from the vehicle route.
Traffic Control/Rider Safety
Whenever possible, we select roads with low traffic volume for the bicycle route. The Iowa State Patrol and local law enforcement authorities direct traffic at select high traffic intersections to help make the ride as safe as possible. They do not lead the riders on the route.
Be sure to obey all Iowa traffic laws and be courteous to motorists and other riders. Please wear a helmet, ride predictably, sound off when passing another rider, don’t stop on the roadway, don’t cross the yellow line, and please keep to the right if you are traveling more slowly than others! Most importantly, RIDE RIGHT, it’s right!
SAG service is for registered riders only! SAG wagons do not provide taxi service from campground to campground, nor should riders make a habit of using them. If you aren’t in condition to ride the distance, you should not come on the ride. If you are picked up by a SAG wagon, they will take you to the main campground of the overnight host town. If you are in need of bike repair service, the SAG wagon will drop you off at one of the official RAGBRAI bike shops along the route.
SAG wagons patrol the route to pick up riders who break down physically or mechanically. There is no charge for this service if you show your rider wristband. You will be asked to sign a waiver when riding a SAG wagon. To let the sag driver know you need help, turn your bicycle upside down or “wheels up” on the left hand side of the road and motion a “thumbs down” signal.
If you are looking for a SAG wagon in a pass-through town, there are two locations that riders should gather as it is difficult to spot riders in need of a SAG in crowded towns and the SAG wagons will not drive through the crowded pass-through towns main streets. Riders should wait at the entrance to the pass-through town before the large crowds or at the town’s Fire Station/First Aid Station. Please note that every town will not have a Fire Station/First Aid Station. If you are waiting at the entrance to town, please have your bike turned upside down.
Please show patience as there are 4 SAG wagons that have a 15 bike capacity that will be sagging riders from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. Those who SAG may find themselves on the SAG wagon for multiple hours as the SAG wagons must fill to capacity before delivering riders to the next Overnight Town. Also, please note the service times listed on the official RAGBRAI bike maps. If a town shuts down at 1 p.m., you will not see a SAG wagon again in that town after that designated time.
Severe Weather Guidelines
Weather in late July in Iowa is typically very hot and humid, with highs in the 80s and 90s. But it’s not uncommon for temperatures to dip to 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the evening. Weather is very unpredictable and rain is a very real possibility. RAGBRAI continues to move along on schedule despite poor weather conditions. You should pack accordingly.
In case of lightning on the road
- Take immediate shelter at a farm house, if available.
- If no shelter is available, find a clearing away from trees. Never stand near a tree. Lightning strikes the tallest point and travels downward, sometimes arcing to things – including people nearby. Once you find a clearing, squat on your toes with as little of your body touching the ground as possible.
- Staying on a bike is an individual choice for each person. It’s not the safest place to be, but sometimes it’s the safest place at the time. The rubber tires won’t protect you from lightning. But you’re traveling and not high up, so chances are extremely slim of getting hit.
In case of hail on the road
- A bike helmet will protect your noggin from getting hit. If the hail stays on the ground and you’re riding your bike, you could slip and fall. If there is no lightning, get under a tree. Generally if there’s hail with a severe storm, that probably means lightning in which case standing under a tree is not advised.
In case of a tornado on the road
- A tornado watch means that conditions are favorable for formation of a tornado. It doesn’t necessarily mean a tornado has been spotted.
- A tornado warning means that rotation has been spotted in the clouds or a funnel has actually touched down. If there’s rotation and there is a warning, take cover immediately.
- A tornado will generally come from the southwest moving northeast. Most injuries and deaths from a tornado are the result of being hit by flying debris. A tornado can force a blade of grass into a fence post, so obviously it can kill a person. Tornadic storms can produce more than one funnel, lots of lightning, rain and hail. In this storm, everyone should take immediate action and find shelter.
- If there are no homes, caves, etc., lay down in a low spot on the ground not subject to flooding!
In case of lightning in camp
- If there is a storm with lightning, people who are camping under trees should leave their tents for safer places. Go to a building, picnic shelter, car, pool house, etc., away from metal and power poles with conductors in them. Be aware of your surroundings and locate the storm shelter in the area once you establish your campsite. The campground Information Center and the town’s tabloid (the free publication that each community prints and distributes in town) will also be able to identify the shelter locations.
In case of hail in camp
- In camp, there’s not a whole lot you can do. You are okay in your tent unless it is large hail, which will go right through. The biggest problem here is that if you have hail, you have a severe storm coming.
In case of a tornado in camp
- If there is a need to evacuate, move quickly but safely.
- The safest places are basements, inside rooms (never near windows) on the northeast corner of the building, under stairs and in bathrooms.
- Depending on your local weather service, you should have 10-15 minutes after a tornado has been spotted to evacuate.
Each overnight town has a severe weather plan in place, so follow the organizers directions.
Showers will be available at schools, swimming pools and converted car washes. Shuttle service is usually available from the campgrounds to the showers. RAGBRAI provides for 90 portable toilets to supplement the ones provided by the overnight towns in the campgrounds. If you must have bathrooms close to your campsite, please set up your campsite close to the bathrooms. They will not be moved once the bathrooms are in place.
A number of campers use sun-heated portable showers. According to state law, it is illegal to dispose of waste water into any state-owned natural or artificial lake. Additionally you are requested to dispose of this water through appropriate sewage access. Please do not dump portable showers on the ground.
RAGBRAI is a leisurely ride, not a race. You will get the most enjoyment out of it if you have trained for the ride. Plan on riding at least 1,000 training miles as you get ready for RAGBRAI week. The route is always challenging, so the more miles you put into training, the more you will be able to enjoy the event.
The daily mileage averages more than 67 miles a day, and can range from 35 to 85 miles per day with one day that includes an additional loop that extends the day’s mileage to 100. The Iowa terrain can vary from flat to very steep hills.
RAGBRAI should not be your training, but a culmination of your training effort. The biggest cause of injuries is lack of conditioning. If you are unable to complete the ride, you are responsible for your own transportation home, but RAGBRAI personnel will advise with travel logistics whenever possible.
Click here to read the training blog by Cycling Coach David Ertl. David will provide valuable training information and tips to prepare you and your bike for RAGBRAI.
Travel to the starting point of RAGBRAI and back home from the ending point of the ride is each rider’s responsibility. Many rely on relatives and friends for transportation while others take chartered buses offered by bicycle clubs, shops and other organizations.
Because the route changes each year, you must wait until you receive confirmation that you were selected before you will be able to schedule any flights or make charter arrangements. The RAGBRAI office will be glad to answer any logistical questions you might have.
If you are coming from out-of-state, the starting host town usually coordinates a shuttle from the nearest commercial airport. The starting town also will put this information on their Web site that will be linked to ragbrai.com. You also could choose to fly into Des Moines or Omaha and take a charter to the starting town and a charter back to Des Moines or Omaha at the end of the ride.
For transportation to and from the start and the end of the route, consult the list of charters. If you call or write to any charter, you must have a wristband number to prove that you are a rider with credentials.
Use of the RAGBRAI® Name
Simply put, you cannot print RAGBRAI on your team’s shirts or jerseys. Illegal use of the these protected marks can lead to confiscation of non-permitted jerseys, t-shirts and other items.
Legal restrictions exist for the use of the RAGBRAI® name, marks and logos. Vendors are not allowed to use the name “RAGBRAI®” or any derivative thereof without written permission from The Des Moines Register. The marks and names RAGBRAI® and Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa™ are and shall be the exclusive property of The Des Moines Register and Tribune Company. Both the RAGBRAI and RIDE RIGHT® logos are registered trademarks, and therefore cannot be used without prior written permission of The Des Moines Register.
Only official RAGBRAI bicycle shops and the Friends of RAGBRAI have limited permission to use these marks on t-shirts, ads, etc. Permission for all other uses must come from RAGBRAI. We will take enforcement action against those found using any of the above marks without written permission.
Vehicle Pass Instructions for Support Vehicle Drivers
Any vehicle accompanying RAGBRAI participants during the week must have a vehicle pass adhered to the lower-left hand corner (driver’s side) on the inside of the windshield. A vehicle pass is required for access to the designated RAGBRAI campgrounds in each host town. Drivers and other non-riders traveling in vehicles must wear a non-rider band during RAGBRAI. Please Note: You do not need a vehicle pass if you plan to park your vehicle at the starting or ending towns during the week of RAGBRAI.
In an effort to control traffic congestion on the routes and in the towns, we must limit the number of passes we issue each year. The number of vehicle passes is limited to only 1,500. The vehicle passes are only sold online through June 1 to groups of three or more at the time of registration.
RAGBRAI officials and the Iowa State Patrol will prepare a route for support vehicles that avoids the riders’ route and leads drivers directly into the next overnight community. The map of the support route will be available only at the Information Centers in the starting and overnight towns, at the RAGBRAI Merchandise and Information stands located near the Information Center in the campground and in each downtown area and on our web site before the ride. The vehicle route is posted online after July 1st.
Our number one concern is the safety of the riders and we’re sure it’s yours also. The bicycle route isn’t closed to motor vehicles, but we ask your cooperation by not driving on it. By accepting a vehicle pass, you agree not to travel on the bike route and not to go into any pass-through towns. If you are found on the bicycle route, the Iowa State Patrol will remove your vehicle pass, and your campground privileges will be forfeited. We have been advised by the Iowa State Patrol that, for your safety, all speed limits and motor vehicle laws will be closely enforced on all highways leading to overnight towns. Please drive carefully.
Each day one of the pass-through towns is designated as a meeting town for you and your riders. We will indicate on the support vehicle map the routes into the meeting towns that you may use to meet your riders and enjoy the hospitality of the local residents.
Recreational Vehicles (RVs)
If you have an RV pass and are bringing a self-contained motor home, you need to be aware that most campgrounds on RAGBRAI will not be equipped with electrical or water hook-ups. Please don’t expect the towns to provide a place to fill your water tanks. All overnight communities will, however, have a designated dumping station in or near town. The total vehicle length (including the truck length if pulling a camper) should not exceed 50 feet. Campgrounds are not laid out to accommodate larger rigs. Additionally if you will be operating a generator in the campgrounds, please be courteous of your fellow tent campers.
Vending during RAGBRAI
RAGBRAI participants are assured a wide selection of food from which to choose during the week. Food vendors and other types of vendors will be everywhere along the route. RAGBRAI does not make any decisions about what the vendors may offer to sell to participants, nor does RAGBRAI receive any funds from vendor fees. The vendor must have an Iowa Sales Tax Permit if they are a for-profit business. If they are selling food, the vendor must obtain an Iowa Retail Food Establishment License, which requires an inspection.
Vendors who wish to set up within the city limits of an overnight town or a town that RAGBRAI passes through need to contact the vendor chairperson of the organizing committee in each town where they wish to be a vendor. The organizing committees determine the vendor fees, which are used by the communities to cover the costs of services provided to RAGBRAI participants. These services include additional sanitation services, additional law enforcement for traffic control, additional medical personnel, etc. Vendors setting up inside city limits are identified as OFFICIAL RAGBRAI VENDORS by a sign or a permit posted in their booth.
Vendors choosing to set up outside of city limits must obtain permission from the person whose property they are on. The county must be contacted regarding any county permit or ordinance. Additionally, for safety reasons, the vendor should set up on the right-hand side of the road and allow enough room to allow for bicycle stopping and parking. Vendors setting up without proper permission or proper documentation may be asked to leave by the property owner or by state and county health officials. If the location selected by the vendor creates a safety or health risk, law enforcement officials may require the vendor to move.
Who to Contact
- Any vendor wishing to sell alcohol must meet state vending standards. For information about selling alcohol, contact: the Licensing Division, Alcohol and Beverage Division, (866) 469-2223.
- For information about obtaining an Iowa Sales Tax Permit, contact Iowa Department of Revenue and Finance, at (515) 725-0223
- For information about obtaining food service licenses, contact: Food and Consumer Safety Bureau, Inspections Division, at (515) 281-6538.
- Any time after the full RAGBRAI route is announced in March, you may feel free to contact the vendor chairperson in each community. The best way to do this is to contact the city clerk’s office or the local Chamber of Commerce.
What to Pack
Helmet: Find your helmet, make sure it fits correctly, and pack it now. Wear it whenever you are on a bike during RAGBRAI! Here are some tips to help make sure you and your helmet are meant for each other.
Three Tips to Help Insure a Proper Helmet Fit
- The shake test. Put the helmet on your head and move it side to side and front and back, making sure the fit pads hold the helmet securely to your head.
- Make sure the helmet sits level on your head. You should have about a finger’s width between your eyebrow and the bottom of the helmet when the straps are tight. If the helmet tends to creep up where it looks more like a sunbonnet, the straps in front of the ear will need to be shortened.
- Most importantly make sure that your straps are adjusted correctly. The straps should feel somewhat tight so that when you open your mouth, you feel the helmet press firmly against your head. You also should not be able to pull the helmet off when the chin strap is tightened.
Bicycle Equipment: Bicycle shops can handle most any mechanical need you have, but you might consider bringing a small repair kit that includes a tire, spare tube, tire irons and small wrenches. In addition, a rear view mirror, bike gloves, pump, bike bag, rain gear, bicycle lock and water bottles are necessary equipment.
Camping Equipment: For camping you’ll need a duffel bag, sleeping bag, pillow, pad, tent, ground cloth, rope, stakes and a flashlight.
Toiletries: Pack a towel, washcloth, toothbrush, toothpaste, skin lotion, shampoo, soap, razor, nail clippers, brush/comb, hair ties/barrettes, deodorant, mirror and toilet tissue.
Clothes: T-shirts, shorts, a jacket, pants, warm-up suit, underwear, socks, shoes, thongs, sleepwear, swimsuit, and sweatbands/bandannas should get you through the week.
First Aid: Pack aspirin, ibuprofen, vitamins, Band-Aids, gauze, tape, first aid cream, lip balm, sun block, insect repellent, safety pins, special medicines, Campho-Phenique, and sanitary protection if needed with disposable bags. Paramedic teams patrol the bicycle route and emergency medical treatment will be available in each campground.
Miscellaneous: Bring an alarm clock, spare glasses, sunglasses, a scouting knife, watch, earplugs, ID, money, traveler’s checks, credit cards, several plastic trash bags for rain protection and zip-lock bags. Be sure to enclose everything in a water-tight plastic bag.
Please put identification on everything you bring along on RAGBRAI.
Your baggage will be exposed to the elements, so please pack items accordingly.
Watch our video for tips on what to pack for RAGBRAI.
Personal Hygiene Precautions
While RAGBRAI has never had a reported incidence of food-borne illness causing gastrointestinal symptoms that spread among the riders, the potential is always there. A ride in another state suffered an outbreak of diarrheal illness, which might have been better controlled by riders practicing improved personal hygiene habits. A few tips to prevent you from becoming ill include:
- Frequent washing of hands can wash away the germs picked up from other people or from contaminated surfaces.
- Always wash your hands after using the rest room and before eating.
- Carry a small bottle of antibacterial hand-washing solution – the kind that does not require water to be effective. Use when hand-washing facilities are not available.
- Do not reach into a tub or container of water or ice to retrieve a canned beverage or other food item. The water or ice may have been contaminated by others who have reached in before you.
- Before purchasing any food from a vendor along the route, note whether they are taking precautions to prevent the spread of food-borne illness.
- RAGBRAI is working closely with the overnight and pass-through towns to help them provide adequate facilities for hand washing, which is the most effective way to prevent food-borne illness. We are also in contact with the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Department of Inspections and Appeals, which are providing guidance for food preparation and storage for food preparation and storage for food establishments that set up along the route.