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Hotel stays at overnight towns while using Ragbrai truck

WE have rooms booked on the few (larger) overnight town. while the rest of the week we are planning to camp using Ragbrai truck to transport our bags, While we get to the overnight towns that we have hotel, d o we still need to pick up our bags from rabgrai truck and drop them off the next morning? Can we just leave the bags there (and maybe pick up personal items for the night) and it will get transported to the next overnight town?

15 Replies

AMaliar, February 1, 2023 at 1:49 pm

Bags are unloaded off the trucks at every overnight towns and you’re responsible for placing them into the truck each morning. If you don’t pick up your bags at the overnight town, they will stay out in the open against the elements and possible theft. While the RAGBRAI cycling community is pretty good about leaving people’s belongings and bikes alone while unattended, there’s always a risk of theft in some towns by unsuspecting “visitors” that are looking for easy scores.


HelenP, February 1, 2023 at 2:54 pm

You’re likely to find camping friend(s) who’d be willing to keep your main bags beside their tent overnight. Whether they’d also lug the bags on/off the truck is another matter.

Remember, anything you take to the hotel might have to go on your bike, all day. And the free town shuttles may not run in the morning, so check how far you are from camp. Local transport like a taxi or bus may be hard to find. If your big bags miss the truck, it could be quite a problem.


awdgg phan, February 1, 2023 at 9:37 pm

Thanks, what is the earliest time we can drop bags off next morning?


LawnchairMan, February 2, 2023 at 12:17 am

That answer can be found on the Ragbrai website under the Ride tab, General Information, Ride logistics, Baggage transport. On the left just under Baggage Dos and Don’ts.


awdgg phan, February 2, 2023 at 10:36 am

Thanks, LawnChairMan for those following/unterested in this: here’s the takeaway:

Be sure to have your gear at the RAGBRAI baggage semi truck before 8 a.m. The RAGBRAI baggage semi truck 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 semi truck 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.


awdgg phan, February 2, 2023 at 10:41 am

With 3 major cities as Overnight Hosts in the route this year (Ames, Des Moines, Coralville(iowa city). My guess is a lot more people that camp will take advantage of large numbers of Hotel availability in these 3 overnight host towns.
I wish they allow us to drop off bags the night before (Ragbrai workers can also pre load their truck night before, less hectic the next morning). RAGBRAI organizers are you listening? hint! hint!


klkoopman, February 2, 2023 at 11:50 am

1.) The RAGBRAI truck has been doing the same thing for decades, they are not going to change their policies. 2.) Right now, no one knows where the campgrounds will be located, much less what hotel is nearby. 3.) When you roll into town and get to the truck, find your bag and grab a smaller “go bag” for the hotel. It better not be any larger than a small backpack. 3.) It is standard practice to then place your big bag under the semi-trailer. That keeps rain off it and is a sign that you’ll get it in the morning. Presumably you’ll take your cash with you, no one wants to steal your smelly clothes and tent fan. 4.) Pedal to the hotel, the route might take you on busy streets. If you call an Uber you better ask them to bring a bike carrier if you want it with you. 5.) After a delightful night in the hotel, you’re going to have to pedal back to the RAGBRAI truck before 8:00 AM, then retrieve your bag, pack your “go bag” into it and personally load it onto the truck. 5.) If you do not, the RAGBRAI truck will drive over your big bag, leaving it in the middle of a field and you are left lugging your “go bag” with you all day.


HelenP, February 2, 2023 at 12:38 pm

They probably need to go clean/service/refuel the truck, plus the driver needs to get to their sleeping place.


awdgg phan, February 2, 2023 at 3:48 pm

klkoopman, That is a really good suggestion. I assume leaving the Large bags and tent under truck is safe and lot of people been doing it. I have No problem riding back with my small go bag and load up my big bag and tent the next morning before 8am. Just want to avoid carrying the big bag/tent to/from hotel.



hnschipper, February 2, 2023 at 6:41 pm

RAGBRAI has overnighted in every one of those big cities before. They do not change how the baggage truck works in any city, regardless of how many hotels might be nearby.


Raymond Johnson, February 4, 2023 at 11:48 am

In addition to the good advice from others (post-ride, get what you need and stash the bag with a friend in camp or with the truck, and be back before 8 am to load it), I had a nice conversation last year with one of the baggage truck staff about this topic. He said that when bags aren’t loaded by 8, he tries to take pictures of the remaining bags and their tags so he has a record of what is being left behind and who it belongs to. That way, he can communicate that to other RAGBRAI and local organizers in case someone comes looking for their bag. I think this was more a personal effort done out of kindness rather than standard procedure, and there’s still no guarantee that those bags will be safe because they will be left out unsupervised. Still, the staff member had several happy stories to share where a rider realized a bag got left in a previous town and with a few phone calls and the kindness of a stranger, that bag made its way back to the rider.

He also had a very sensible reason for why baggage truck staffers are never the ones to put bags back on the truck: If the rider isn’t showing up to show their intention to go to the next town, then they can’t assume that is where the bag needs to go. Riders get sick, hurt, or stop riding for a variety of reasons, and RAGBRAI doesn’t want to be responsible for separating a bag from its rider.


Jonathan Jones, February 4, 2023 at 10:50 pm

Waterloo, 2022. Riding out of our hotel in the morning, we spotted two young riders frantically looking for the shuttle to take them back to the campground. They had ridden the shuttle across the river to stay in a hotel the night before, left their bikes, bags, etc. at the campground, and expected there to be a shuttle to take them back in the morning. Not sure how that worked out in the end!


garywilk, February 5, 2023 at 9:54 am

If you know a lyft or uber driver in the area, you may want to give them a heads up that there will likely be some good money to be made. With the larger towns and changes in transportation, things may take a while but I think there will be opportunities but do not rely on these. Like mentioned above, there are usually several friendly people around to help you out. You may also look for some houses within a block or two with people standing out. Go up and visit. They may even let you store bags or other items on a porch.


awdgg phan, February 22, 2023 at 10:03 am

we have hotels two night in a row (Ames and Des Moines). can we skip using ragbrai baggage trunk for 1 day (as we have friend that will bring our bags from Ames to DM hotel) ? then next morning, continue using ragbrai trunk the following day.


HelenP, February 22, 2023 at 5:00 pm

Yes, sounds perfect!

The thing to remember about RAGBRAI is that you’re responsible for keeping track of your own needs and gear. Especially in this anniversary year, local resources will be strained by our sheer numbers.

That said, people are very helpful at RAGBRAI — let’s all try to be like that! :-D


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