1st Week Long Ragbrai – Solar Chargers

This was my 1st experience riding the entire week on Ragbrai and absolutely loved it and look forward to many more. What awesome weather we had!

One area where I struggled had nothing to do with riding (haha!) and more in keeping my cell phone charged. While I thoroughly enjoyed being off the grid for a couple of days, I was frustrated that the solar charger I had purchased from Amazon (that will be returned!) simply would not charge when placed in the sun. Nothing. No charge. Zilch. In direct sunlight for many hours and wouldn’t charge.

I understand it could just be a simple defected product, but I’m curious to see what other sources were used to keep your phones and other gadgets charged for the week. Other than using a normal outlet when able to find one at a shelter, restaurant, house, RV, etc.

6 Replies

hnschipper, August 1, 2018 at 3:20 pm

I use a battery pack to charge my phone. It was fully charged when we left and it lasted me all week. I also keep my phone in airplane mode while riding to conserve the battery, and I turn it off completely at night.

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jwsknk, August 2, 2018 at 8:00 am

don’t know the brand you had, mine worked, mostly, a lot of not full sun days this year and I need a wider rack or something to keep it fully exposed. But I could get charged back up enough to not need to find an outlet. When I got mine they said to plug it in and get a full charge first time

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Pete Dempsey, August 2, 2018 at 1:20 pm

Nick,

Wouldn’t it have been nice if someone handed you a fully charged battery pack at your lunch stop each day of RAGBRAI?
Fantasy? No reality! I set up a booth next to Mr. Porkchop each day of RAGBRAI and riders swapped their depleted battery with a fresh one each day to eliminate the need for searching for wall outlets to recharge phones or battery packs. As a longtime cyclist and RAGBRAI rider I wanted this service so I created Backroads Battery. Look for us at the expo or by Mr. Porkchop next year.
Pete Dempsey
http://Www.backroadsbattery.com

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Nick Durow, August 2, 2018 at 2:35 pm

Thanks for the info! What brand of battery pack has worked for you that you’d suggest?

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Pete Dempsey, August 2, 2018 at 3:38 pm

Nick,
We import high quality batteries directly and they carry our own brand. We only swap the batteries that we provide. We provide an 8,000 mAh fully charged battery with free swaps all week for $40 and you keep the battery at the end of the trip. People raves about the swapping because even if you bring your own battery you would likely need to recharge it during the trip if you run any GPS apps. With the spotty internet service in rural Iowa phones spent themselves repeatedly connecting and reconnecting to cell towers. It was a comfort for our clients to use all the juice they wanted to and to never have an issue of running low. You can preregister for our service for next year at Backroadsbattery.com.
Pete Dempsey
Pdempsey@backroadsbattery.com

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Geoff Butland, August 3, 2018 at 7:14 am

I have a generator on the front wheel of my bike. It kept the phone fully charged, but it does add drag. There is a slight increase in pedaling effort when it’s charging. I also packed a 20000mAh battery to charge my watch and provide backup.

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