Riding Solo

Looks like most folks are on teams. Any recommendations for a week long solo rider/camper/non-drinker (yeah, I know) to get the most out of the experience.

59 Replies

steve zink, May 2, 2018 at 8:19 pm

Website was more lively back in the 90s..but I see some old timers are still here..one way is semi solo
..your brother/sister rides to midway and then you get to ride second half..and they drive the truck in..That would be semi solo without the gear..the putz way out.
Is this the hardcore solo gear thread?..for those that strap a lawn chair to their panniers?


Jason Stoller, May 2, 2018 at 10:35 pm

I am riding solo too as I always do. You are never alone on Ragbrai!



KenH, May 3, 2018 at 9:55 am

Gregory Epstein:

If by bus charter you mean those teams and charters whose SAG vehicle is a bus, they, like everyone else, seem to have a great time! I went with the Riverbend Club/Charter one year and had a great time with them. They use a small moving truck instead of a bus but that makes no difference unless you are allowed to sleep in the charter bus and I don’t know how common that is. A lot of the bus charters seem to be tent camping.

If you have any concerns about riding alone then charters are a great way to allay those fears. In my case I had no personal worries about riding alone and camping with Team Register Semi but my wife wanted me connected to people who might notice if I didn’t make it to camp one evening. So I went with Riverbend mostly to reassure her and ended up liking it. It is a fine way to do RAGBRAI and while the full service, premium priced charters tend to get the most press here there are charters at a broad range of price points and they all seem to do a fine job. You rarely hear a bad word about any of them here, I can’t recall hearing anything negative at all in fact. Whether you pay a lot or a little for a charter you will get good service and if it appeals to you I think you will find them worthwhile.

If by bus charter you were talking about the buses that take you from the end town where you park your car for the week to the start town, those are great too. I used Riverbend’s bus charter to the start town the year I went with them and it was a pleasant way to get to the start town. As part of the fee for that your luggage and your bike are ferried across the state too. These Iowans think of everything!


KenH, May 3, 2018 at 10:03 am

steve zink:

No, this is not the hardcore, bagger’s thread. If you want to start one you will probably get company. It’s not my thing although I think about giving it a try once I retire. But for RAGBRAI, where the entry fee includes space for my gear on the Register Semi, I don’t personally see the attraction to schlepping my own gear across the state. My helmet’s off to those of you who enjoy doing that, I just see it as something I would do out of necessity, not as a lifestyle.


Denton Kernodle, May 3, 2018 at 11:15 am

Jan, no most riders are not in teams or riding with charters. Most riders bring their own tent and transport it via the official transport truck. And most riders camp in the Register campground (the official campground). As far as being alone, there are 15,000 cyclist riding and it is hard to identify a charter, group or club so you are not solo at any time.


Clyde Halsrud, May 4, 2018 at 11:09 am

My thoughts on riding solo. (1) You miss getting information on “happenings” along the way so you have a greater chance of not experiencing some of the things you might otherwise want to experience. (2) It is easy to get into a rut as far as your morning start times.

With that said, I enjoy riding solo. Its a chance to reflect on life, listen to music, and start and stop when and where you want–and you don’t have to listen to the drone of a constant talker (shoot me). As others have said you are never really solo on RAGBRAI, though you can be lonely in a crowd.


Mary Stewart, May 4, 2018 at 12:30 pm

I’m riding solo too, and I’m glad to hear that I won’t be the only one. Thanks to everyone for the encouragement! If you see an almost 50 year old woman wearing an Iowa Hawkeyes RAGBRAI jersey and sleeping in a hammock tent, come on over and say hello!!


steve zink, May 5, 2018 at 10:21 am

I schlepp it all Ken…but leave the kitchen sink at home..30-35 lbs max..and I carry food..you wont see me standing in a ragbrai morning long breakfast line..thx heaven for HyVee
Many solos are banditos and dont want ragbrai services/sag but I pay registration for the main bennie..registration pays for the life flight to the hospital if a newbie crashes into me..Ive rode the same rag sled for 40 yrs but its time to retire it and ride my new wiz wheel terra trike…What are you riding ken?


Carole Hedman, May 5, 2018 at 3:27 pm

I am also riding solo! Im excited but a little nervous, Ive only camped once before! Thank you for the encouraging words!


steve zink, May 5, 2018 at 4:45 pm

At least carry the clean clothes and shower gear on the bike..then if you have to wait for your friends or cant find them. at least you can find a hot showr if opportunity knocks…the secret to tent camping is not pitching it..always be looking for better accommidations.


Jason Stoller, May 5, 2018 at 5:15 pm

Steve the secret to tent camping is sleep in a nice hotel instead. LOL!



LawnchairMan, May 5, 2018 at 6:58 pm


Here’s a tip for new campers. Watch out for tent guy lines. They are hard to see in the dark, and can be stretched farther than you think. I’ve come close to tripping and falling onto somebody’s tent.
This is a good time to ask people to please use light colored guy lines, and try to keep them close to your tent. I get my line from Kelty. It is a gold color with sparkly stuff in them. If you don’t want to go that far please tie a white ribbon on your line. Thanks!


steve zink, May 6, 2018 at 9:11 am

Jason, hotel rooms are hens teeth.. Thats why the route is secret for a few weeks..so ragbrai can book them out ..only way is inside info, or investigative work before the route is out..its true ragbrai life revolves around that hot shower..and a comfortable bed..I have a coleman inyo tent. 4lbs as backup..


KenH, May 7, 2018 at 8:09 am

I ride a 2009 Fuji Absolute 1.0. Out of the box it wasn’t that great for a long ride due to the flat handlebar which just doesn’t work for me over about 30 miles. It now has a Jones Loop H Bar on it, 38mm tires, and most recently Catalyst platform pedals in place of SPDs. It’s ready for anything RAGBRAI will throw at it but not a great platform for unsupported touring. I’d need to get a new bike for that and in fact I’d like to ride coast to coast once I retire, perhaps doing RAGBRAI in the middle of that. But I don’t know if that plan would ever pass muster with the wife!

I’ve had so many fine meals and fine conversations courtesy of those long food lines that I regard them as a beloved feature of RAGBRAI rather than something to be avoided. It’s RAGBRAI though, any way that you enjoy is a fine way to do it!


Barry Schnoor, May 7, 2018 at 1:45 pm

Mary, Glad to see you haven’t given up on the hammock!

See you out there.


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