There's a whole bunch of adventure before you even get to RAGBRAI. Many of my friends who went to RAGBRAI had never been to Iowa, and were unfamiliar with the nature of the midwest. This can have embarassing outcomes.
We were going to bring our bikes with us, but decided we'd better ship them when we learned our flight from Madison, WI, to Des Moines only seated 17 people! How can that be!
There's no way a bike box will fit in the cargo hold.
Across the street from our motel in Des Moines was a farm museum, with the "Machine Shed" restaraunt.
It was fish fry night, I think the choices were catfish, walleye, or perch. Afterwards, everyone went on a tractor ride. Now this tractor ride is not consistent with my memories of childhood. They have a wagon with seats and a gate. There is nobody sitting on a bush hog. There is nobody standing on the axle grabbing on to the fender.
Everyone survived the tractor ride, and managed to get out of bed to load their bikes and stuff onto the box truck. Many of us made it in time to get seats on the bus.