Support Drivers

Good evening all,
Going to have a support driver this year and looking for some tips and best practices from those that have some experience. Also curious about suggested items to bring, is bringing a grill advised? Thanks

6 Replies

3 Pedal, November 20, 2017 at 8:16 am

Are you looking for tips on how to recruit a support driver, or what one should do? What kind of rig will you be using for support?

I think we typically use the grill one or two nights of RAGBRAI. Ought to step it up a little.

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Dylan Hofert, November 20, 2017 at 8:33 am

My dad has decided to be the support driver this year. It will be his first time, so mainly just advice on being a support driver. Tips, best practices…. We will be using a pick-up with a pull behind trailer (5×8).

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3 Pedal, November 20, 2017 at 9:51 am

I’ll throw out a couple of quick tips now and think about making a longer entry later, maybe on the team blog.

If at all possible, have him go to the driver’s meeting. After several years, Mom stopped going to them, but for the first several she when. It should help give some foundational knowledge, and they have in the past provided updated road condition info and such.

RAGBRAI isn’t a race, unless you are a support driver. Want the great camping spot by the river, you better get there before the 1500+ other support drivers. On second thought, have him drive very slow, leave late and take what you can get. I want the fancy spot by the river. πŸ™‚

Often times, shopping for supplies is easier in the town in the morning before you leave than in the town you are spending tonight in. Everyone is hitting the road, and once the get to tonight’s town, they are reloading supplies. Grocery stores, laundry mats, liquor stores… they normally seem less crowded in the AM before you hit the road than in the afternoon after you get in.

Carry a fire extinguisher. One year, when Mom was driving, she helped put out a team bus that had an engine fire on the side of the road with one of ours.

Have something to mark your territory – cones, ropes, streamer… I assume he will not want to sit around camp alone after he gets there. It it is fairly well marked, people won’t mess with it and take your spot.

That should get you started.

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dale hofert, November 20, 2017 at 7:31 pm

Are there hosts or guides to get you to the campsites or grounds or is it always each man for himself?

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3 Pedal, November 21, 2017 at 8:05 am

Every town it different. Some have greeters/directors where the support driver route enters the overnight town. They will then direct you to the designated camping areas. Some are not as organized. Most both have maps on their websites before the ride starts you can download. Some also bring maps to the night before town, so you might be able to get a map for the Monday night town Sunday night.

Generally, the camping spots are marked on the maps, and the support driver just goes looking for a good one. If you have an RV, they often have people directing where to park, trying to get them stuffed in as tight as possible. If you are just pulling a utility trailer with tents, I normally see them parked along the street next to parks and other designated camp sites. The tent area seems to be pretty much each man for himself.

If you apply for and get assigned a host, you then drive directly to their house.

Every year before the ride, I print all the maps and other useful information for each overnight town to put into a 3 ring binder. That keeps it all organized for our driver, with each day in it’s own tab. If we do not have a reserved location, we take a minute to look at the maps the at night for the next day, looking at camping options and making plans on desired locations. We don’t always get them, but it both give the driver a place to start and give all of us an idea of the lay of the town. One of the more unexpected purchases I have made because of RAGBRAI is a printer that can print 11 x 17, so we can have large versions of the maps.

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Dueywife, November 21, 2017 at 4:11 pm

This year we had our 17 yo son drive another team’s 31′ RV. Great way to break in a newbie support driver πŸ˜‰

I always prepare a binder for my support driver with the overall SAG maps for the week (once posted), bike route maps, the overnight town maps, contact list for the team(s) and host families (if you stay with a host), and a copy of the insurance card. Everything is put into sheet protectors and labeled with Day and Town. If we have a pre-determined host, I use google maps to mark on the overnight town map where they are located to help. We also brought along our Rand Mcnally road atlas as data coverage can be very spotty. It really helped this past year determining our meeting point at the end of the ride across the river.
If you don’t have hosts and are wanting him to locate campsite, make sure he also scouts out where showers and restrooms are available.
We generally like to have our support driver meet us in the meeting town with lunch. We bring along coolers and totes of food. We’ve never grilled, but I like the idea! That was one thing we were discussing for next year, cooking at camp instead of eating out on the town.
How big of team will you have, is it really necessary to have a trailer? We have a team of roughly 5-6 and can fit everything into the back of a pick-up and carry the bikes on our bike rack (4).
We do ask that our driver restock ice and food during the week. As well as do a load of laundry as necessary.
A past driver of ours always preferred loading the truck with the coolers to be accessible by the tailgate. Also he carried luggage that couldn’t get wet up in the cab (electronics, pillows, clothes). Our truck has an extended cab and a bed cover.
If it’s been a wet night, you may want to ask them to lay out the tents to dry at the overnight site. They don’t have to set them up, just spread them out. This will also help you to lay claim to your land.
Make sure your driver knows what he needs to bring…will he need a tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, chair, etc.
Stay on the support route, don’t try to go around it as they may end up on the bike route. Our son preferred grocery shopping in one of the towns the support route drove through vs. the overnight towns.

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