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What happens if someone misses the baggage truck?

I’ve ridden 5 times, always with a charter. They do a great job of jousting everyone to get a move-on. My 22 year old son has ridden with me 3 of those years, the first time when he was 13. He also rode as a bagger (with wristband) one year because he likes to sleep in. Anyway, he has organized a team of about 10 college friends who are going to ride this year. He’s the only one who has any distance riding experience. They won’t use a charter because they are on a budget (probably need to save money for beer). And other than my son, they aren’t experienced enough riders for them all to carry their own gear. So the baggage truck is their only option.

But I cautioned him that oversleeping is NOT an option. Just curious though…what happens when someone misses the truck? Has to have occurred – probably happens several times each year. And assume that the rider doesn’t have an adequate rack & panniers to tough it out for the day. What actually happens? Is begging and pleading (or bribing) some late departing team to do you a solid the only option?

23 Replies

Matt, April 13, 2021 at 2:09 pm
Baggage Transport

Be sure to have your gear at the RAGBRAI baggage semitruck before 8 a.m. The RAGBRAI baggage semitruck 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 semitruck 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 baggage tag permits you to put your bag on RAGBRAI’s baggage semitruck. Your bag must be clearly marked and can be claimed only by showing that the number on your wristband matches the number on your baggage tag. The tags allow for multiple wristband numbers to be entered so spouses/friends can pick up their party’s bags at the same time.

Daily riders must write their wristband number(s) on their baggage tag.

Although each rider is allowed one large, soft texture bag, you may bundle or strap together a tent, sleeping bag or duffel bag and count it as one. We cannot accept wood or hard plastic luggage or bike cases. Bags should weigh no more than 50 pounds. A scale will be on-hand to weigh over-weight bags.

Your baggage will be exposed to the elements, so please pack items accordingly. Click here for a brief video on what to pack for RAGBRAI.

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.


Jboz, April 13, 2021 at 4:24 pm

Matt Ridell – no disrespect, but everything you posted I already know. And that wasn’t even the question. I am fully aware that the trucks roll out at 8 AM. I was not asking for a copy paste of the rules…I fully understand and accept the rules, and am not questioning them. I am only asking for practical suggestions for what a rider could do in the unlikely event that a rider misses the 8 AM deadline.


Matt, April 13, 2021 at 5:05 pm

No problem. I noticed that you said you had always gone with a charter and didn’t know if you had found the baggage truck details. Sounds pretty definitive, so I think you hit the nail on the head with the beg, plead, bribe options. We only used the truck one year and have been with charters since. Someone else will have to reply with the best beg, plead, bribe options. I’m glad to see so many new riders on here with questions. I’ve heard that team entries (and possibly prior rider) registrations are down and individual registrations are up. Maybe a lot of newbies out there to join the fun.


bmyoungberg, April 13, 2021 at 5:42 pm

I do not have answer for you, but my guess is you scramble and see if a small group could help or ask around to see if there is a nice local who would help. I would note the main campground is quite lively early so not sure how anyone could sleep through it all. I use the truck every year and it works great. However, folks start rising and getting out of tents around 4:30-5 to beat the heat. You also hear them opening the truck and getting the metal ramps in place. By sunup at 6, many folk are already gone and most others are working on it. Few by then are still sleeping. Quiet time is at 10 pm and it is followed well, so most are up well before 8.


Jboz, April 13, 2021 at 6:08 pm

I would guess that missing the truck one time results in a strong lesson learned. Veterans rarely, if ever, oversleep and miss the truck. But college kids plus lots of beer…that’s a wildcard. Main reason for the question is I’m kind of freak about contingency planning. Most of my adult life, I ask “what are the most likely things that could go wrong, and what is my plan if/when that happens?” My son isn’t great about contingency planning. He refers to it as “being chill”. I refer to it as being grossly underprepared :)


W0ODS, April 13, 2021 at 8:31 pm

I missed the truck once. It was the 80’s. I was 17, and she was totally worth it.

Still, it was a horrible feeling waking up to the empty field. As you’ve guessed, you have to find someone to carry your baggage, be it a friendly team or a local who’s probably going to want a fair amount of the daily beer ration to make the round trip. Sending all the stuff with an Uber driver might be an option nowadays.

If they fail to secure transportation, then they’ll have no recourse but to head to the post office, fill out the change-of-address forms, and become residents. It’s the RAGBRAI way.

Best not to miss the truck.



KenH, April 14, 2021 at 8:40 am

Sometimes you just have to let them fail. Sometimes that is the only way they will learn. You’ve warned them and I suspect that you will warn them several more times before the wheels hit the road. After a morning or two spent wasting perfectly good beer money on hiring a local to transport their bags to the next town they will have learned an important life lesson that will serve them well for decades to come. One or two of them, your son perhaps, may also learn the important leadership skills required to get the team up in time to make the baggage truck deadline.

But yeah, if they fail they will have to beg help from someone and at RAGBRAI they are likely to find it. Unless they sleep SOOOO late that “someone” has already left town ahead of them….

My team won’t offer them any help, not because we are mean or heartless, but because we will all be gone before the Register truck!


Jboz, April 14, 2021 at 9:52 am

Ken – you are right about letting them fail in that regard. In fact, I’m fairly confident they will…life can be a harsh but effective teacher.


bmyoungberg, April 14, 2021 at 12:44 pm

If my college kid (I have four daughters in their 20s, so been there) had the attitude of chill, I would leave them home as I would not want to deal with it. Mine would not, but they just have no interest in riding. I go by myself actually so I have no one to worry or think about. Find plenty of great people to talk to or hang out with along the way.


Niles, April 14, 2021 at 5:06 pm

Haha, I see a perfect self-portrait of helicopter dad. They’ll be fine. They’ll find a way by themselves. The friendly Iowans and Rigbra’ers will bail them out. And it will be one of their best stories and bragging rights.


Jboz, April 14, 2021 at 5:40 pm

I’m not riding with them…might bump into them on the road, but I’m riding my own ride, and it’s bike not a copter. They are completely on their own. All I can do is offer fatherly advice…which he probably won’t take anyway.


KenH, April 15, 2021 at 1:05 pm

When I picture Jboz in conjunction with choppers for some reason I am seeing something more like those we might see in the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa this year. But with pedals. If you drop in there this July you can also catch the legendary Roadog motorcycle. I’d read about it in a newspaper article years ago and then was surprised and delighted to find it on display the last time we were in Anamosa.


“Bicycle Bill”, April 15, 2021 at 10:48 pm

What do you do if you miss getting your stuff on the baggage truck?  You find out just how persuasive you can be to try to get someone to schlep the stuff for you. Fortunately, with the number of people/teams who have their own vehicles/shuttles/what-have-you, I suppose a sad, hang-dog look, a $20 bill, and a promise of a couple 12-packs of beer when you pick it up later that day will go a long way.

I also guarantee that you will only do this once.


RDaryl Daryl, April 17, 2021 at 9:33 am

“I also guarantee that you will only do this once.”
-Possibly because you created new life-long RAGBRAI friends after joining a team on that “fateful” day


NYC Highwheeler, April 17, 2021 at 11:19 am

I think one of the most wonderful aspects of RAGBRAI is that when misfortune happens, you always have 20,000+ friends happy to help you out. I have ridden RAGBRAI 3 times, and had a variety of situations where I needed assistance. Mechanical, logistics, medical, financial, etc. In every instance, locals, vendors, and fellow riders were always willing to help. I can’t imagine having trouble finding someone who is going to the next overnight town and has a little storage space for a duffel bag or two.

Likewise, when you come across someone who needs a little help, do what you can. It is that attitude more than anything else that defines RAGBRAI, and Iowa itself.

Also, I’m a diehard late sleeper who loves staying up late and sleeping until noon. But RAGBRAI is different. When you are anywhere near the main camp ground, the metal ramps of the baggage truck being set up is your first alarm around 4:30 or so. By 5am -5:30 the whole campground is buzzing the activity. By 7 the temperatures are starting to rise, and you’re probably only going to want to stay in your tent for “extracurricular activities”. If it is a hot day, you are really, really, really going to want to get as much riding done as possible before the heat of the day kicks in.

If you son has half your gift for gab, and attitude, he will be completely fine Jboz.


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