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Attendance projections?

RAGBRAI extending the deadline for registration would be a data point that might indicate lighter than normal registrations so far. Could be pervasive “wait and see” syndrome. Conventional wisdom seems to suggest lighter than normal attendance this year, due to lingering concerns over COVID.

I don’t ride with an organized team, but there is a group of friends and acquaintances that I ride and bunk with. The number has varied over the years from as low as 4 or 5 to as high as 12. This year, so far nobody has definitively jumped in (except for me). So I will most likely be the sole rider of this group this year.

All this leads me to believe that even with vaccinations ramping up fast and restrictions being lifted, attendance will be significantly lighter than in the past. Maybe as low as 60% of normal? How are your teams or informal riding groups looking this year? Anyone at full strength? Anyone else seeing major drop-off?

51 Replies

SFC JKL 2, April 14, 2021 at 12:39 am

I think it will be lighter than normal because we are getting older and in trying to Destroy President Trump, the propaganda media did a really good job of terrifying everyone. Now we have a President trying to keep his dark winter going in their efforts to get as many people on the government dole as possible. Sorry you fell for it. If you think your mask actually does something, keep wearing it. Better yet, try using a plastic bag and duct tape. It’s the only way to truly be sure all the bad stuff stays outside. Meanwhile, I’ll only get vaccinated if I’m forced to and I can still count the number of time I’ve worn a mask on one hand. I highly doubt if I’ll be in the social distancing crowd either. Covid is like Ragbrai. Ride your own ride.


KenH, April 14, 2021 at 8:18 am

It was nice of the Doctor in the video linked above to talk about CO2 retention and measure it for us on a test subject. If you need that level of proof, then there it is. It is obvious from inspection however that there is nothing to the concern about CO2. The amount of volume in the space between your face and the mask is tiny compared to that of your lungs. It is quite small compared to the volume of the “piping” that leads from your nose/mouth to your lungs. Both of those volumes represent dead spaces that are already retaining some CO2 when you exhale and that CO2 does get sucked in when you inhale. All perfectly normal. Mathematically then a mask has to increase the amount of CO2 because it represents an additional reservoir of retained CO2. But it is far too small to have a significant effect on you, the measurement devices in the video don’t even register it.

The Doctor is wrong about gasses being so small that they pass right through a mask, however. Those of us who wear glasses and live in cold climates (the Doctor himself in other words!!) know from experience that a lot, perhaps most, of your exhaled breath escapes from the sides of the mask rather than passing right through it. This makes it hard to see through glasses on a cold day, they fog up from your breath! Also parachutes would not work if gasses passed right through fabrics! Fabrics offer significant resistance to the flow of gasses. But masks do not create a confined volume large enough to affect your respiratory function to any significant degree.


JimCoonRapidsMN, April 14, 2021 at 9:05 am

Hi Ken – you are correct of course for the looser fitting masks. It depends greatly on the type of mask. When wearing a certified N95 (but not the N95 that construction workers use that has the vent in the middle that is used for exhales), at least for me, if properly fitted the gases go out through the mask and do not fog up my glasses.
– Jim


mootsman, April 14, 2021 at 9:19 am

Ken is right about the gasses escaping around the edges. Most masks were designed for surgeons standing still while operating on a patient to prevent their own droplets from falling into the patient’s open surgical wound and infecting the patient. Even walking I breath more then standing still and vapor laden air both escapes and is brought in. True Jim, you can get some to seal but any activity then prevents adequate breathing. Well, maybe not for the petite Dr. Fauci as oxygen use varies a lot based on the amount of muscle mass being used like in even average sized people I assume.

That UofH study fails to look at how variable people’s O2 needs are at any given time. Based both on size and activity level.

Even the CDC recommends against mask use if you have certain respiratory conditions although they have forgotten to mention that caveat lately. I have a couple of those and need to pull a mask away to get more oxygen from time to time even walking around a store. Or some times I’m just one of those old guys with the mask below my nose.

This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by mootsman.


mootsman, April 14, 2021 at 9:26 am

And the higher concentration of CO2 around my mask does affect how much oxygen I take in under certain conditions but not all.


Anna628, April 15, 2021 at 8:46 am

RE: wearing masks for an extended period of time… my husband wore the same mask without taking it off for 18 hours at a time for days on end while working as an ICU doc this year… never got lightheaded, never fainted, never died from it. DID treat a lot of patients who didn’t wear masks (and treated those who did who were infected by those who didn’t) and DID hear a lot of complaints and “facts” about how wearing masks for extended periods of time isn’t healthy, and is even harmful. His colleague is a neurosurgeon who wears a mask for 14 hours at a time while doing surgeries that make him sweat and breathe heavily sometimes… he hasn’t died from it (yet). Maybe when he does, we’ll check his CO2 level.
Consider that his colleague is 60 years old and has been doing this for decades. Consider his 2 previous nurse colleagues who both had asthma and also wore masks for entire shifts through the pandemic – I have no idea how they did it, but they did. Sounds super gross to me. Maybe they breathed too much of their CO2 and fainted often from it on the hospital floor – who knows. Doubt it.
Believe me – I couldn’t do it, not a chance – but not because it’s unhealthy, or life threatening, but just because I’m not used to it and I didn’t choose a career that makes me have to get used to it. There’s not one study that has found a doctor has fainted or died from wearing a mask for that long – they have, however, by the end of an 18-hour, sometimes TWENTY hour shift, run through the hospital and up and down flights of stairs several times an hour, sweated through their 4 layers of clothes and plastic protection, and saved lives through an N95, hood, AND shield.
I’d HATE to wear a mask while biking, and I never would – it doesn’t make sense unless you’re biking in a room with other people (which would then be gross in a mask, in my opinion)… however, considering what my husband has accomplished with it on, I’m sure I could survive “extended periods of time”.
Edited to add: a (properly fitted – they have fit tests every day) N95 is completely sealed. Your breath goes through the mask, in and out, filtered. Plenty of other masks (ASTMs are worn by dentists, not necessarily totally sealed, just for protection) aren’t as protective but are okay for other situations. If I’m in the grocery store, I can wear a fabric mask, because transmission rates are so low in that environment. If I’m in a room with no air dilution, I’m in a more protective mask, or doubled. There’s no way in hell a doctor would voluntarily expose themselves to COVID by wearing a mask that’s not completely sealed.

This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by Anna628.


Anna628, April 15, 2021 at 8:59 am

Also, please congratulate me on my first-ever internet rant. Sheesh. I feel like an a$$hole! Truthfully can’t wait for the ride, and looking forward to to meeting all of you. XX


mootsman, April 15, 2021 at 9:20 am

Anna, so you basically agree, these are surgical masks and while standing still operating they are fine. For medical people standing still over a patient for the purpose of not infecting the patient. But they were not intended for a body in motion. Keep in mind once someone is even walking our O2 needs vary a great deal from person to person. The more muscle tissue in use, the more mass being moved, the higher the O2 needs. And then add in those with respiratory conditions for even more variability. Then add in the sweat and humidity often encountered on RAGBRAI potentially soaking the mask. Not that anyone will ware them actually riding but rather in the crowed beer gardens and such.

This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by mootsman.

This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by mootsman.


Anna628, April 15, 2021 at 10:12 am

Sure, they were not created for use during workouts (yuck!) but you’re breathing air through a membrane, which means air passes through both ways – it’s not dangerous (even for a 60 minute workout). I honestly think it’s disgusting, and I wouldn’t like the feeling of something hampering my breath, but plenty of people have used them during workouts for several months. It’s not dangerous. You can’t die from or get sick from your own CO2. It doesn’t get trapped in the mask, it goes in and out of the filter. It’s a membrane.
Not sure why you thought you had to explain oxygen needs while moving, maybe you thought I didn’t know that your heart rate changes when you move? And your breathing does too? And your need for oxygen does too?
It sounds like I need to explain that an ICU doctor is not only standing above a patient doing procedures. As this year has proved, they are wearable and survivable for continuous use for 18 hour stretches while running (RUNNING) around a hospital, up and down multiple flights of stairs, so much so that you sweat through your clothes. It’s different from an hourlong Orangetheory workout, but wearing an N95 for both is perfectly safe.
Here is my point: There’s no reason to wear them while biking outside. Zero reason at all (actually, a good reason to wear one outside while biking would be if you decide you want to, or if someone you trust says you should – that’s how we should all make decisions). The research says differently.
In general, at this point (well, cases are way up, so maybe it’s different at this moment – he’s sleeping after an overnight shift, so I can’t ask him) (I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but it’s true) staying about 6 feet away from each other, in all directions, is recommended if you’re unmasked. When I’ve run outside this spring, I’ve asked him if I can breathe in someone’s Covid who is running in front of me – he says air dilution is so strong outside that it is just so unlikely, it’s not worth worrying about (I’m also 40 and healthy, maybe he’d say something different for someone who was very high-risk of adverse outcomes – he’s probably say no risk is worth it). If people are vaccinated, there’s much less rate of transmission, so all of these risks go way down. Working out while wearing a mask sounds awful, but plenty seem to choose to do it.
I guess I only responded here because it’s been hard to hear uninformed (misinformed?) opinions on how it’s unhealthy or unsafe to wear masks for extended periods of time, that you can breathe in “too much” of your own CO2. We’re not talking about an extreme case of ARDS, something like that – we’re talking about relatively healthy people – My husband has done it without even noticing it, in some of the most stressful situations of his life. I think a regular person like you and I (are we regular?) would find it difficult (and to me, SO gross), but it’s not impossible, it’s not unhealthy, it’s not dangerous.
My husband has been “in motion” for most of last year. NOT working out hard core at the gym, but if he were, he’d wear and 95, and would survive.


mootsman, April 15, 2021 at 10:39 am

Anna, I think you need to experience RAGBRAI to appreciate the vastly different environments and what my actual meaning is. Mostly outdoors, even in the beer gardens. Unlike in an air conditioned hospital and in particular how chilly the operating rooms are, RAGBRAI is out in the heat, humidity, pollen, dust and other asthma triggers in the wider world. You cannot compare a climate controlled hospital to it. No one said CO2 gets trapped in a mask. And of course the individual variations with the size of people, their oxygen needs and their respiratory conditions including allergies. And some people have more extreme versions of triggers. Saying all are relatively healthy on RAGBRAI is not an accurate assumption (depending on what your meaning of relatively is). Try RAGBRAI first.

This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by mootsman.


Jboz, April 15, 2021 at 11:08 am

The need to mask in hospital (surgical in particular) conditions predates COVID. Hospitals are filled with people who are both sick and vulnerable, both now and long before we ever heard the term COVID. The workers there are (and have always been) constantly exposed to potential viral and bacterial threats, and they are in turn interacting patients, many of whom are compromised. Masks as well as many other precautions in hospital conditions are standard protocol, and are medically necessary.

The COVID virus is inching downward toward a spreed & mortality rate similar to past outbreaks like H1N1 or SARS, during which time there was little to no societal paranoia or mask-mania. Some could make the case that we are already there, as the CDC weekly COVID death data here would strongly suggest:

Outdoor mask wearing in the midst of a rapidly diminishing pandemic, with mass vaccinations underway and increasing daily, among a group of people who “might be sick” but probably aren’t, or “might be immune compromised”, but probably aren’t, or “might not be vaccinated”, but probably are…I don’t know, but it seems like a gross overreaction. I’m amazed to still see people driving in cars by themselves wearing masks when the death rate is clearly plummeting. I saw a younger guy driving a convertible wearing one a few days ago.


KenH, April 15, 2021 at 12:30 pm

Anna628: congratulations on your first rant! Nicely done, you sound like a pro!

I wonder how many of us have properly fitted N95 masks? At one time they were impossible to get for civilians and I rarely see anything that could even possibly be one out in the wild. Gases freely pass through the air filter on my car, I realize that it can be done. They just don’t pass that freely through the kinds of masks most of us would be able to bring to RAGBRAI. It would be most amusing to see the RAGBRAI officials try to test each of us daily for proper mask fit. But that will remain an amusement of the mind because they are far too smart to even consider doing that. The reason you don’t pass out from rebreathing your own CO2 while wearing a mask has nothing to do with gas permeability for most of us. It has everything to do with the fact that the masks people actually wear simply don’t trap enough exhaled breath to have a significant impact on your respiration. They may feel like they do, I hate them too, but they don’t.

I doubt that we would be required to wear a mask while riding. Masks may not trap enough volume of CO2 to affect us but they do represent a flow rate restriction and at the exertion levels needed for even a sedate cycling speed that becomes unacceptable. At this point a vaccination is a far better option. I got my second dose last week Monday and then spent Tuesday and Wednesday in bed feeling like I was coming down with Covid. But it is all done now and I highly recommend the experience in spite of the reaction I had. When we all share a cold one this July some of you will brag to us about the time you climbed Potter HIll and I will respond with the story of how I survived Pfizer 2!

It’s all good fun.


Rob Fuller, April 16, 2021 at 8:41 am

Extending the deadline may also be due to desire for more revenue. Such a cut-off may be an artificial milestone regardless of the actual demand. A common trick of people management: exploit the hysteria of false deadlines.

This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by Rob Fuller. Reason: Further thought


mootsman, April 16, 2021 at 10:29 am

I thought I read an official statement before the registration deadline was extended that they already had 10,000+ registrations which is the limit. Why extend it then? Seems counter intuitive. Unless registration was actually down this year.


Rob Fuller, April 16, 2021 at 11:50 am

I’m optimistically looking for a good turnout because bikes suitable for RAGBRAI are sold-out (local bike shop back orders go until January 2022) across the nation and local bike trails are busier than ever. People are getting out more than in the last several months as evidenced by fewer empty seats the local light rail.
I’m hopeful RAGBRAI leadership is simply thinking the more the merrier. LETS RIDE!


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