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what to do with my bike overnight (self-supported rider)?

First-timer here… I plan to camp in the designated RAGBRAI camping areas throughout the week, and I am unclear what to do with my bike overnight. Do I just park it outside my tent and hope that it’s still there in the morning? Are there areas to lock up bikes overnight? I appreciate any insight!

11 Replies

Surlyman!, May 17, 2022 at 7:35 am

Every year a couple bikes get “stolen” either from some a..hole that wants to make a quick buck at someone else expense or a intoxicated rider that grabs the wrong bike and bitches the whole time that the bike don’t feel right. But, with the amount of bikes and the number that end up missing, the odds are on your side.. use a light cable and lock it to your tent stake hole or a nearby fence/ post if you are worried about it.. It don’t take much to stop the thieving bastards or the drunk since there is to many people around that the added commotion of the lock will keep our bike safe..


garywilk, May 17, 2022 at 7:58 am

I am not sure anyone has them stolen from campsites. It is mainly from an up town area and like mentioned, a drunk or jerk just wants a quick ride somewhere. Most show up the next day but it really makes for a bad night and next morning start. We very seldom ride uptown later (twice in the last 10 year), I just have a small gunlock with a small cable and lock our bikes together. It makes riding off basically impossible and if someone is going to steel, difficult. If anyone is going to steal one, it will be one off to the side by itself and easy picking. We leave ours by our tent or RV in the years past and never had an issue but there is always a first.


robert garton, May 17, 2022 at 5:49 pm

in the morning SURPRISE your bike will be there. There is no reason to lock your bike in camp or daily on the ride. Seeing someone locking there bike is a insult to all in the Ragbrai community.


“Bicycle Bill”, May 17, 2022 at 5:59 pm

“…Seeing someone locking there [sic] bike is a insult to all in the Ragbrai community.”

There’s an old saying that goes, “Locks keep honest people honest”, and there’s another truism that if someone wants your bike badly enough, no lock is going to protect it.  It’s been a while since I’ve been able to ride RAGBRAI, but during the 21 years when I did, I never worried whether or not I was ‘insulting’ anyone.  I just knew that my bike would, more than likely, still be there in the morning.



HelenP, May 17, 2022 at 6:30 pm

Don’t be silly, robert g. Whether some leaves a bike locked or not is fine.

Erica, note also that being more security conscious when we’re in a big city is wise.

One kind of protection you might want is a seat cover for nights when dew is heavy or it rains. A shower cap secured with a bit of string is easy. Or just bring a small sponge or rag.


Uncle Kraig, May 17, 2022 at 7:43 pm

I’ve never locked my bike on RAGBRAI, not once. Very, very few do. It really is not a concern. Leave it by your tent, it will be there in the morning. See you in July!


Randall Murphy, May 18, 2022 at 7:26 am

I am also of the don’t bother locking my bike camp with one caveat. I think that the majority of the (very, very few) bikes taken are by townie joy-riders that are looking for a quick adrenaline rush. That said, with all of the bikes laying around, just don’t be the easiest one to take. ie. in the middle of the campground you’re safe laying the bike near your tent but at the corner of the church lawn near the street maybe not. Instead, maybe lean the bike against the church away from the street traffic. My Marmot Limelight 3 tent has double vestibules. I use the front door to get in and out and put my bike under the back door with only parts of the wheels sticking out. You can clearly see that there’s bike there but is there a rider in the tent as well? Again, ALL of the bikes aren’t going to be taken so just don’t be the easiest one to take. Just my two cents worth… See you in July


Joseph Schlau, May 18, 2022 at 8:45 am

robert garton, May 17, 2022 at 5:49 pm
in the morning SURPRISE your bike will be there. There is no reason to lock your bike in camp or daily on the ride. Seeing someone locking there bike is a insult to all in the Ragbrai community.

So Robert, this “Iowa Nice” way of thinking of the world is interesting.

Can you perhaps explain why Iowa has police and prisons too.

Even though I don’t live in Iowa, I still subscribe to the DesMoines Register. The articles on crime are a regular feature. No, not like Dodge City on the Lakeshore, (Chicago), but still a part of anywhere people live.

Erica, being a self supported rider you probably have an array of special bags as well that cannot be easily replaced. If you like your bike, lock your bike. Let Robert leave his bait bike out there for the taking.


Randall Murphy, May 18, 2022 at 2:58 pm

Speaking of crime, as I was waiting at the Pork Belly staging area last year in Clinton I was told about a local that asked a biker if “that bike over by the tent was his?” When the local heard that it was not he walked over to it AND RODE IT AWAY. I don’t mean to bad mouth Clinton in any way but there are bad apples out there.

If you want to hide a book the best place to put it is in a library and if you want to keep your bike safe leave it with lots of others. If it’s all alone then make it difficult to take.


direwolf, May 20, 2022 at 1:07 am

Yeah, just buy a cheap-ass lock and use it. If “the RAGBRAI community” is offended then we can all debate about whose problem that is.


robert garton, May 21, 2022 at 4:35 pm

Well said Randall. on my post i over stated my opinion on locking a bike.


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