RAGBRAI LI Route Announced on Jan. 27!

Catching the sag wagon.

This will be my first time riding the entire week. Only have done single days in the past. I don’t think my pride would allow me to ever ride the sag wagon, but worst case scenario of terrible weather(heavy rain, headwinds, etc…I can take the heat), how does one go about catching the sag wagon? I’m not sure I’ve seen one in my past single day rides. I’m on track to be over 1000 miles by Ragbrai and the heat and hills don’t bother me. My only concern is a long day of brutal headwinds. That would be miserable and I might have to sag it. I’d hate to get stuck somewhere between town A and town B while Ragbrai moves on and I’m in the middle of nowhere Iowa with just a bike.

8 Replies

KenH, June 19, 2017 at 8:20 am

You turn your bike upside down on the left shoulder, and wait. It will be by. One of my riding buddies used it once and he reported no trouble. Actually his wife rode part of one day with us as a lark and she had a grand time with the driver when she decided to SAG it. So it is there if you need it but you won’t!

You should see the van pulling its trailer fairly often actually but it is one of those things that just blends into the background and you don’t notice it. You will see bikes turned upside down on the left shoulder fairly often too, sometimes without a rider in sight on either side of the road so I don’t know what’s up with that! Do make sure that you exit each pass through town before its posted closing time, otherwise you could be missed by the SAG van as it makes its final sweep of a route section.


jwsknk, June 19, 2017 at 1:33 pm

The left side is the easiest for them to see you on and to pull over to. Three of them start their day at different times and go until full, take the people to the overnight then circle back. They will drop off riders in the pass through towns only for mechanical issues, otherwise you are on until full. So in the towns there is a chance to find them near the bike shop local. The bikes on the road with no one around> if they have a ribbon on them the rider has been picked up already.


Brian Wallenburg, June 19, 2017 at 1:50 pm

If you’re not having mechanical problems, the daily meeting town is the best place to catch the sag wagon. Find the RAGBRAI trailer and wait til the sag vehicle swings by. That being said, if you have 1000 miles under your belt, you’ll be fine. If it gets windy on you, break the day into chunks, keep eating and drinking and you’ll make it!


Denise Giles, June 20, 2017 at 12:34 pm

Is there a number we can call for SAG Support? Or do we just need to wait on the left side of the road?
In the event of a mechanical or any other issue?


jwsknk, June 20, 2017 at 12:58 pm

they have never had a number to call that I know of. it’s a lot of waiting and hoping the first one by isn’t full. Have heard even the Highway patrol cant reach them.


Linda Wiard-Bauer, June 25, 2017 at 5:34 pm

KenH: Do make sure that you exit each pass through town before its posted closing time, otherwise you could be missed by the SAG van as it makes its final sweep of a route section.

Ken – there is a “closing time” for each town? Is there a required average speed? (Newbie here)


RDaryl Daryl, June 25, 2017 at 6:19 pm

Yes, there are service “closing times” for each town along the route. The service times encourage the riders to finish the daily route by 6:00 PM. The on-line route maps will eventually be updated with this information. Also, official rider route maps will be available at the RAGBRAI merchandise trailers starting on Saturday July 22.
Example of Friday from last year’s route (68.5 mile day):
Ottumwa to Hedrick – 17.0 miles – 12:00 Noon
Hedrick to Hayesville – 14.4 miles – 2:00 PM
Hayesville to Sigourney – 7.2 miles – 3:00 PM
Sigourney to Wooden Wheel Vineyard – 15.7 miles – 4:30 PM
Wooden Wheel Vineyard to West Ches7ter – 4.7 miles – 5:00 PM
West Ches7ter to Washington – 9.5 miles – 6:00 PM


KenH, June 25, 2017 at 8:43 pm

People say that route times are calculated on a 10 mph average speed. That may be true, however the average speed is not sufficient in itself to produce a route timetable. You have to have an assumed start time and layover times in each town. From the typical posted closing times like the ones R-Daryl Daryl posted above you could back calculate the average speed between towns. For example if you rode the 17 miles from Ottumwa to Hedrick at 10 mph you would have started at about 10:15 am to get there by 12 so if you wanted half an hour to spend before it closed you would need to leave by 9:45. And so on. Basically I think that if you can ride at 10 mph and you leave the start town by 7 or 8 am you will have no trouble finishing by 6 pm when the state police start to shut down all the vendors outside the overnight town to encourage people to get their day’s ride done. If you leave at around 6 am when many people do and can zoom along at as much as 12 mph you should have plenty of time to spend in each passthru town.

If as a newbie you are really concerned about this then I would suggest that you try to start around 6 am the first day. Ride at your own pace, spend as much time as you like in each town and keep an eye on the clock and the day’s route schedule. I doubt you are going to have any trouble at all and most likely you will conclude by the end of the first day that you could slow down, sleep in, and/or dally a little longer in each town if that is what you would rather do. Or just keep to the first day’s schedule. Personally I like to hit the road at 6 or 6:30 and ride at my own pace, letting my interest level in each town’s offerings dictate how long I spend there. I’ve never come close to shutting down a passthru town.

Keep in mind that your start time will be partially driven by the schedule of the Register baggage trucks or your charter unless you have your own support vehicle that operates at your whim. You have to have your tent packed and luggage delivered to the collection spot on time. You don’t have to leave that early if you don’t want to but what else are you going to do?


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