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A sag wagon is a support vehicle for cyclists. As a general rule, cyclists on tour call the vehicle a sag wagon, while racers prefer the term “broom wagon.” In either case, the sag wagon can be a vital part of the team which support cyclists along their journey. On long tours and trips, many cyclists grow quite attached to the sag wagon and its drivers, thanks to the comfort that the sag wagon provides.
The origins of the term “sag wagon” are a topic for debate. Some cyclists believe that it is an acronym for “Support and Gear” or “Support Aid Group.” Others suggest that it may be related to distressed or weary cyclists “sagging”, or trailing behind the pack. In either case, the sag wagon can be a lifesaver for cyclists, since it carries everything from water to medical supplies. Many of the staff on board are cyclists themselves, sitting out an event for various reasons or simply enjoying the opportunity to help out.
Usually, the touring sag wagon takes the form of a large, sturdy van or truck. It is designed to hold food for the cyclists, along with camping gear and other equipment. The sag wagon may drive ahead to the night's designated camping spot, so that the cyclists are welcomed to a fully set up camp when they arrive. In other cases, the sag wagon trails slightly behind, keeping an eye on the cyclists and picking up stragglers who may need a brief break from the open road.
Using a sag wagon for a bicycling tour allows the tour group to include a wide range of cyclists at varying levels of physical condition. The wagon can carry the bulk of the cyclists' luggage, making the bikes much lighter and more easy to handle. It also brings along a sense of home, and since a van can carry far more food than a bicyclist can, it usually indicates that good supplies will be less spartan than they might be on an unsupported trip.
In racing, the broom wagon specifically seeks out cyclists who may need medical attention or a rest. The broom wagon meanders through the course route slowly, making sure that stragglers are cared for and meeting the needs of cyclists who may need anything from more water to a lift, so that they can withdraw from the race if they are experiencing physical problems. Staff on the broom wagon usually have medical training so that they can evaluate cyclists in distress.
It's a little surprising that sag wagons would ride ahead of the cyclists to get to the campsite.
It surely would be nice if the camp and food was all set up and ready to go.
But if I was in the cyclist's group, I would prefer that the sag wagon was behind me, just in case I lost every ounce of energy, or I or someone else was injured or whatever. But I guess you would know the procedure ahead of time and could just look for another tour group.
It sounds like fun, though.
Besides all the situations that a sag wagon is used for cyclist's trips, they are also used for long distance running events. I'm not sure if they are called sag wagons, but they are used for the same purpose - a place to rest, carry gear, food and medical supplies.
My son-in-law, along with 11 of his buddies, are doing the "Mt. Hood to Coast" relay run. They take turns doing legs of the race.
The sag wag is extremely important and would have to be a pretty big van to fit food and all supplies plus the people who aren't running at the time.