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Reply To: RAGBRAI 2022 Outlook?

Joseph Schlau, June 12, 2022 at 10:33 am

So, will RAGBRAI be a debacle, or are the organizers in Iowa more on top of it? I know the numbers have fallen at RAGBRAI recently as well, which is sad, the days of 15-20,000 are long gone.

Mr. Dark Clouds,

Let’s answer the easy question first. Yes the days of 15-20,000 are gone. Looks like a minimum of 17-30,000.

You seem to have been surprised that RtR is this Sunday and only the receipt of an email alerted you to this. As a former RtR rider, your research into this seems to be as shallow as your research on RAGBRAI.

So on the matter of a debacle. I guess it depends on your definition of the term. My usage of the term refers to a series of events coupled with poor planning and preparation where the outcome is uncertain, poses a serious hazard or results in actual harm. This differs from just having something bad happen.

For Example; So you decide to take a quick 20 mile bike ride through your local nature preserve. You get a flat tire, ok no big deal, fix the flat. That’s a bad thing easily resolved. Except, oops, I forgot my tire patch kit, my pump is on a different bike, and I used my last CO2 cartridge and never replaced it. No problem, I’ll call home and get a ride. Oops my phone is out of power and I have no battery. Then it starts to rain and get cold, but you were only going to be out an hour so didn’t pack a rain jacket. Did we mention the mosquitoes.

Once you push your bike out of the woods to the first gas station you find, you are both wet cold and all bit up, and still need to call for a ride. Having a flat was unfortunate. Failing to prepare turned it into a debacle. It’s on you. You take ownership of your own debacle.

You say you last rode RAGBRAI in 2016. Not much has changed, except new ride directors. It’s not totally on the ride directors though. RAGBRAI has a depth of talent that kept things going during the latter half of 2019-20 when the ride director position was in “transition”. The only major change is the new again 105 mile day 4 route.

While the decision was debated at length, what did come out of this was an extension of closing times in pass through towns, increased sag vehicle support, and also new this year, and confirmed in the DMR article, an established pick up point in the meeting towns. Like a bus stop, if you decide for whatever reason half a day is it, just go there. You won’t have to do the traditional upside down bike – wait at the side of the road for a sag. Since you are in the meeting town, you have all the facilities available to you. RAGBRAI dealt with the anxiety of the 105 day.

So if your debacle question referred to the 105 mile day 4, it’s now a nonissue. Now, no one at this point weeks out can predict what the weather will deliver, like my example from earlier, if you don’t prepare for the heat, cold, wet and it turns into a debacle for you, well . . . . . It’s on you. You own it. If you don’t train and bring a bike in poor shape, it’s on you. If you bring a leaky untested tent, it’s on you.

RAGBRAI does a lot to prepare new riders with information from multiple sources. This forum as well is full of experiential advice. Yet someone will have a debacle. Most of us won’t.

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