Registration is open for RAGBRAI L!

Self Supported (Bagger) info

Hi all,
This year will be my 4th RAGBRAI and I’m looking for a new way experience the event. I’ve done the team thing for my first two RAGBRAIs and used a charter for my third. This year I’m thinking of going self-supported. I’ve done short bike tours myself, but RAGBRAI is its own entity. So, I’m wondering if there are any good informational websites, FB groups, etc for anything regarding riding self-supported (recommendations, personal experiences, etc). Are there any”bagger groups or teams” to join?

41 Replies

Mileslie, May 30, 2022 at 1:16 pm

I’m confused. I assumed that ‘self-contained’ mean not being registered and HAVING to carry your own stuff in your panniers. Why is there discussion on using the baggage trucks, which are for registered riders? We’ve passed the registration deadline, but I’m thinking of working Ragbrai into a longer tour, and just joining in and taking advantage of the comradship and (I hear) endless food oportunities. I’ve stayed in many small town parks and used town pools, and will be both before and after. I do like the idea of hitting the next town to have more open space, less crowds, and better sleeping…. Is there anything wrong with this plan?


Joseph Schlau, May 30, 2022 at 2:02 pm

Technically there is nothing wrong with riding the Ragbrai route and staying in the towns. It’s a public highway and open for use by all cyclists. In my case, I will be taking a self supported ride to and following Ragbrai. I am however registered and will join my team during Ragbrai then be back to self supported.

An unregistered rider however free to ride the route cannot make use of the baggage truck nor the sag services. If you are sick or injured, there would be emergency services available as always. But then again, as a self supported rider you deal with these issues yourself anyway.

I have heard of some vendors who will not serve riders without a wristband, but personally never experienced this. Casey’s will always accept your money.

The registration fees offset some of the obvious expenses like police directing traffic and EMT services and some not so obvious planning and logistics in the background.

Some other self supported rider can speak to the issue on camping in the designated campgrounds. I don’t know from experience if there is anyone looking or checking for unregistered riders. Or anyone caring about the issue.

Registering helps pay your share of expenses, but I understand your position on the issue.

As a side note, I don’t wear the wristband, can’t stand the feel. I have it in my wallet. Never had anyone comment or question this except 1 time claiming my Karras Loop Patch.


bobola, May 30, 2022 at 3:04 pm

Am a 1st time RAGBRAI rider who’s also planning to rag-bag it. Will start a summer tour from NW WI later this week and head into northern MN in a few weeks. Plan is to arrive at the RAGBRAI start a few days early. Looking forward to meeting you folks. Look for a 6’7″ gray haired guy putting the mettle to the pedal on a 35 year old red, highly modified Schwinn Voyageur. “A stranger on a bike is a friend I have not yet met”


LawnchairMan, May 31, 2022 at 1:04 pm

I am not planning a tour, but am just curious about how or where you find camping places when self-supporting NOT at Ragbrai? I suspect that most city parks would have a curfew or a ban on staying overnight. Are there always campgrounds, or is that something you have to plan or reserve?
Back in ’93, we camped (with our van) at a site in Yellowstone that was reserved for cyclists until three o’clock. Is that a common practice?


Joseph Schlau, June 2, 2022 at 11:06 am

There are a number of different ways available for handling overnights. At one end of the spectrum is stealth camping, just finding some green spaces and camping out, without expressed permission to do so. Something I would not do unless it were an emergency. But people do anyway.

My preference is a combination of Bed and Breakfasts, AirBnBs, Cabins in state or county parks, camping in established campgrounds, and last hotels/motels. It has also been called a credit card tour. Mine is an established itinerary with confirmed reservations. To the extent possible the planned route follows towpaths, trails, rail to trail routes. Highway riding is minimized.

Others prefer a less planned itinerary taking each day as it comes. One trend in a number of state/country parks is the “no turn away” policy. If you arrive on foot or bike, they will find a place for you to camp. Bikers and hikers don’t have the option of driving another 20 miles to the next state park like RVs do, therefore the special accommodation.

Many towns passing through established routes also have city run campground. I have also seen that a fair number of locally run bed and breakfasts have closed or not currently taking reservations due to the pandemic. As the route permits, I try to support the local b&bs on the way to help preserve those that remain.


Mileslie, June 3, 2022 at 8:14 pm

In the past 20 years many little midwest towns have added 1-5 camping spots to one of their city parks. Many no longer have a motel or any place else for temp workers (like road and construction crews) to stay and this gives them a place to park and hook-up their RV’s. However, we have also just asked the town cop and have never been turned down. Sometimes they ask you to set up after dark, and sometimes they open the town pool showers and restrooms for you! Only two or three times have we ever just totally freelanced it.


Mileslie, June 3, 2022 at 8:17 pm

I actually did expect to register, but then I found out I was too late. Also, surprized they don’t have a reduced rate for people who don’t need the baggage moving.


direwolf, June 4, 2022 at 12:04 am

My Sweetie and I have ridden RAGBRAI self-contained 30 times. In the years before the internet was a thing we registered intermittently. Since then, we register, because it’s easy to do so. I install the bike band on my trike, and keep the wristband in my fanny pack. Nobody, anywhere, ever, has asked to see my registration, for any service, or any camping, or anything else. Some food vendors offer a discount for registered riders, but they never check because, at the end of the day, who cares? My Sweetie and I, on weird recumbents, haul tools and spare parts, which we have utilized quite often. We have observed bike repair shops/stands on the ride. Honestly, I don’t think they care if a rider in need has registered because, again, why would they care? I have two pieces of advice to fellow baggers: 1) carry spare spokes; 2) worry about something else.


TheHammer, June 6, 2022 at 6:58 pm

Howdy Rag Baggers! My cousin and I will be riding self-contained. His first, my eight (first time rag-bagging tho). When packing, it has been mentioned that there will be food & pie everywhere so don’t pack a stove-which is correct- I will be packing my stove tho because in the past, it has been a challenge finding coffee. My cousin rides a blue Surly Disc Trucker and I have an olive Surly LHT. Both are decked out with red Arkel bags.


direwolf, June 6, 2022 at 9:07 pm

We too like to start a day properly caffeinated. We haul a stove on some tours, but not on RAGBRAI. Instead, we’ve moved to cold brew. We put the grounds in a water bottle the night before, filter and dilute in the morning. That and a Moon Pie, or some such, will get us to the first town out for breakfast.


SmithRoadie, July 1, 2022 at 5:20 pm

If baggers are going to get together in Seargent Bluff, count me in!
I’ll be arriving SB via charter service from Lansing on the 22nd, so am available anytime on the 23rd, after I visit the Expo. While bagging, I’ll be staying with hosts along the way; still waiting on offers from Pocahontas and Mason City.
I’ll be riding a long wheelbase recumbent (Carver Ti-Glide).
A SB afternoon beer rendezvous to toast the coming week is a good idea……


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