RAGBRAI LI Route Announced on Jan. 27!


A little background info about myself. Grew up in Iowa until i was 19, small farm in NW Iowa near Lake City, joined the Air Force and have lived all over the last 18 years. Currently stationed in Wichita Falls TX and have been enjoying it. Last year I bought my first road bike early May and rode the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred in August, completed in 7 hrs 18 minutes and had a BLAST!!! Having grown up in Iowa I never really paid much attention to RAGBRAI, but this year I want to do it. My dad is willing and ready to pull his camper across the state for us and pretty much be our driver/cook etc…..he’s close to retiring and would love nothing more than to do this. My question is to those that have done RAGBRAI in an RV, any info/tips would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You.


3 Replies

KenH, January 10, 2017 at 8:23 am

I’ve done RAGBRAI five times and four of them were in a motorhome. It is really pretty straightforward, my drivers have not had a lot of trouble. We shared the driving one year and I did not find it difficult to drive the route either. Just like it is on the bike if you leave the campground at the same time as most other people there will be plenty of them driving the same route to the same destination, just follow them!

More specifically you should be sure to register as a team. That allows you to have a support vehicle. Be sure to register the vehicle so that you can get the pass that allows you to use the campgrounds. Registering your dad as a non-rider is the right thing to do and depending on how many bike riders are in your group it may be necessary so that you can meet the minimum of three registered participants to get the vehicle pass. It is also the right thing to do and it is very much cheaper than a rider registration so just do it.

There will be maps published shortly before the start of RAGBRAI that show the support vehicle route. If you follow the route you almost won’t need them, as I say you can just follow the crowd! Do be sure to use the published routes for entering and exiting the overnight towns and meeting towns (if you choose to use the meeting towns). You don’t have to follow the route between towns if you don’t want to, if your dad wants to make some side trips for example. Be very wary of crossing the bicycle route at any place other than those designated on the support vehicle route however as this can be almost impossible due to the bike traffic.

Drive carefully, make liberal use of your mirrors and backup camera (if you have one, enlist help when backing if you don’t), and be patient. It is not hard to drive RAGBRAI but it will be very, very crowded anywhere near the bike route so you will just have to be careful and patient.

Your dad sounds very cooperative so some of what I say next may not apply. The campgrounds are mostly ad hoc, no hookups of any kind. If you want AC power you need to run a generator and most do. Mostly the RV campgrounds are isolated from the tent campgrounds and people often run their generators all night long. With no water or sewer hookups you will quickly empty your fresh tank and fill your gray/black tanks if you use your toilet and shower. So the driver will have to re-fill and empty them daily. The RV campgrounds are typically within walking distance of shower and toilet facilities of some kind or in rare cases you might have to take a shuttle to a shower. If there are no land toilets convenient to a campground there will be porta-potties nearby but while you are at RAGBRAI the porta-potties are known as kybos. My policy has been to declare the toilet off limits except for a dire emergency and the shower is strictly off limits since I can’t count on having a driver who can deal with the care and feeding of the tanks. Tooth brushing and hand washing has not been a problem. But you can negotiate that with your dad, if he is willing to take care of that on a daily basis you can do as you like. There are supposed to be dump sites in every overnight town, since I have never used them I cannot tell you how long the lines are….

Meeting your driver at the overnight town is optional. If your driver does not have other plans for the day then meeting the driver at the meeting town is a way to keep him/her connected with the team. Not meeting up can leave the driver feeling isolated and unloved. Just the voice of experience…. If you are in a position where the team members are all riders who are sharing the driving of the support vehicle among them as we did one year then meeting at the meeting town and changing drivers there can be essential to getting an equitable balance of driving versus riding for the team members. Depending on your driver having a companion along can make the week more fun even though it means another bunk filled in the camper.

I’ve run on long enough. An RV of some kind is an excellent way to do RAGBRAI, you get the overnight amenities of a premium charter group at a bargain basement price and it is enough of a party that the driver will generally enjoy it too. I don’t think there are any hidden pitfalls to trip you up, if there are I have never experienced them. Be patient, be flexible, and be prepared to have FUN!


cmparsley, January 10, 2017 at 2:40 pm

This year will be my 10th RAGBRAI. The first one I went self contained. Two additional trips were made with a vehicle and camping with host families. The rest have been done with either a camper or an RV.

A handful of overnights, we have “boondocked.” The rest, we have parked our camper at a host family’s home. This has been the best. These towns open themselves up to us and we have met some AMAZING people along the way.

Last year, we parked in front of a house in a neighborhood on the edge of town. We were miles from “the action.” We happened to be one of 4 teams staying in this area. All of the people who lived on this street were great friends. The guy across the street from our host made smoked chicken legs for ALL the RAGBRAI people and the neighbors for lunch. Dinner that evening was next door to our host and they had burgers, brats, beer and ice cream. Our host opened up their hot tub for us. Our host served fruit, muffins, and coffee for breakfast.

The best part? Sitting in lawn chairs and getting to talk with and share a cold beer with these people.

We always get on the housing list as soon as they open up. We only ask for a parking space for our RV and a half dozen tents and at least a 20 amp breaker to plug the RV in. If they invite us to share their bathroom and shower, we humbly accept.

Lastly, we bring gifts along with us and we leave each host with a little something the next morning before we leave.


Aaron Norgrant, January 11, 2017 at 8:36 am

Thank You KenH and cmparsley for the advice. I really like what you do cmparsley. Better way to get to know the locals…..depending on where the route goes this year we may already know someone willing to open up there home. My dad seems to know everyone within a 100 mile radius of where I grew up. I really hope everything works out and we make it.

Thanks for the great advice!!!



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