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Can the DMR replace the RAGBRAI staff in time?

Normally, the Director’s right hand person would be the natural successor. But in this case, the entire full-time staff walked en mass. There are so many moving pieces that make RAGBRAI go smoothly and there are so many questions yet to be answered.

* Is it even realistic to complete a candidate search and hire a new Director, who then needs to source, hire and onboard a brand new team?
* Do any of the remaining part-time staff have the experience to step into a leadership role and rebuild a team? Or are they most lower-level administrative folks?
* Is there anyone in an existing management capacity at the DMR who could step in, or would even want to? I would think most of the staff are journalists, and have no experience in the area of sporting event management.
* Is any part of the 2020 route locked down? Sounds like Iowa’s Ride is very close, so I assume TJ’s route will be the intended RAGBRAI route…in which case, RAGBRAI will have to start from scratch. Again, with time as a factor, how’s this going to work?
* If not, can the remnants of remaining part-time staff do all the recon work, community outreach and logistical planning to create a workable one?
* What about the myriad of other details (kybos, merchandise, Expo, jersey design, vendor management, campsites, ISL coverage, baggage transfer, vehicle routes, guiding and managing the overall effort, the announcement party planning in DSM, the registration process, the website, production and delivery of rider credentials, etc.)? Is there anyone who knows how to do this stuff?
* Since RAGBRAI relies heavily on volunteers, most of whom are experienced with a few RAGBRAI’s under their belts. I assume TJ and staff have carefully built & nurtured these relationships…so if many/most volunteers switch to Iowa’s Ride, how is RAGBRAI going to fill that void?

This can’t be done as a seat-of-the-pants effort by people with no real experience. This is a major event with extremely complex logistics. RAGBRAI 2020 has the potential to be an amateurish quagmire.

59 Replies

mootsman, October 18, 2019 at 4:39 pm

I know a number of tour directors personally that would love to take on RAGBRAI. Probably a lot more then that out there that would love it too. A bicyclist’s and a bicycle tour director’s dream job.


Miss Curmudgeonly, October 18, 2019 at 11:12 pm

RAGBRAI existed for 32 years before TJ, and it’ll be fine. A lot of us have zero interest in TJ’s vanity project.

TJ can’t even try to pull this together without resorting to copying RAGBRAI. Not impressed.

Iowa’s Ride:


Gypsy Rose, October 19, 2019 at 8:15 am

It feels to me as if TJ and company feel that, after 16 years, they ARE RAGBRAI, and that he’s simply taking the event to a new name/ownership.

~ Kevin


Sandaltan ., October 19, 2019 at 8:30 am

Mike Draper of the megalithic t-shirt store, five locations in three states, has totally backed the newspaper. No surprise there, their politics are as parallel as rail road tracks. Mike is a very savvy business guy and knows who butters his bread with free butter.



KenH, October 19, 2019 at 8:59 am

The Register’s politics do not bother me at all and I say that as someone who votes against them every chance he gets! RAGBRAI isn’t about politics, it’s a bike ride where people can ride with decent people of every political persuasion and have a grand time.

I will support RAGBRAI for as long as it exists and I am able to pedal up Iowa’s hills.

I will never support TJ’s efforts to steal RAGBRAI and spin them as he will that is exactly what he is doing.

I don’t hold a grudge against TJ however. In fact I’d be delighted if it turned out that he was the new RAGBRAI director!


RDaryl Daryl, October 19, 2019 at 9:18 am

Very fun raygun article.
However, how would Mike Draper feel if he was told by his landlord or partner or boss that he could not express his beliefs when his customer ask about his beliefs before investing in his product?
Long Live American FREE Speech !


Carl Anderson, October 19, 2019 at 9:32 am

As most of you know I am a Ragbrai nut, I enjoy the ride, but with the recent developments, I have decided to opt out for the ride this year and will not endorse either ride. Both sides are spinning the story to fit their fan base. The ride was not to be political, but both side have made it so. My opinion is iowa ride will have a couple of good years,and Ragbrai will have a couple of slim years until a new team is hired and put some new spin into it. Eventually Iowa’s ride will fade. Looking into the Ragbrai history this has happened before.
What I might do is plan my own ride across Iowa and enjoy the peace and serinity of the landscape and friendly people of small towns with out disrupting their lives. If this happens, I will only let people know when I head out and end my day. So family and friends know I am safe. Otherwise pictures I take will be saved and a story put together after it is over. Like in the good old days before digital photography .
That is my take on the matter.
This is what I posted on my facebook page, and how I feel. Most likely I will start in a town near the Missouri boarder and in up so I am at Cutty’s near Spirit Lake for a family reunion in the first Sunday in August. I thought I would try a south to north. And if I stick to black tops it can be about same as many miles. JUST something different. But this is my chioce and how I see things.


BarryTantlinger, October 19, 2019 at 11:39 am

[quote quote=1312100]Very fun raygun article.
However, how would Mike Draper feel if he was told by his landlord or partner or boss that he could not express his beliefs when his customer ask about his beliefs before investing in his product?
Long Live American FREE Speech ![/quote]

Like every other employee. Employees don’t have free speech. Citizens do.


David C., October 21, 2019 at 1:47 pm

I think the general public doesn’t care. I did not even know about this until yesterday and I am halfway interested. The major players are going to go with a winner and RAGBRAI is the elephant in the room.


Ken Reed, October 21, 2019 at 1:59 pm

[quote quote=1312103] The ride was not to be political, but both side have made it so. [/quote]

I’m completely with you on the ride not being political but how has the DMR made it political? They’ve been pretty status quo when it comes to the ride.


Jose Medina, October 27, 2019 at 12:21 pm

Ragbrai will always be here. I have been in 30 Ragbrai’s. I do not think first of all that the other ride will be safe. There will be a lot less riders on the road and a lot more auto , truck traffic. When the public hears that Ragbrai is coming , they stay off those roads. That will not happen with the other ride.They will not take the other ride seriously. I expect a lot of accidents. I am looking forward to many more Ragbrai’s.


Janie Gunn, October 28, 2019 at 7:28 am

“Ragbrai will always be here.”

LOL…you mean like Sears, Oldsmobile and all the other American institutions that are gone? RAGBRAI doesn’t have a plan. It’s obvious at this point that Gannet and the Register do not know what they are doing. If they did, they’d attempt to stop the bleed. It has been what, 10 days? No ride director? No announcements? No anything? Meanwhile BikeIowa has endorsed Iowa’s Ride. That means a lot to serious cyclists. Your fearmongering is baseless, Jose. There might not be a RAGBRAI, that is, unless TJ and his team manage to secure the name and trademark. Time will tell, but to suggest that the ride that serious cyclists will be riding isn’t going to e safe is wishful thinking on your part.


jelly0317, October 28, 2019 at 8:53 am

You used the term “serious cyclists” in your post twice. As a 36-time RAGBRAI participant, I would appreciate your definition of that term.


mootsman, October 28, 2019 at 9:02 am

Don’t bother with Janie Gunn. She(he) registered as a user about 7am TODAY (10/28) so either a plant from IR or a garden variety web-troll looking to argue…. He/She is wasting out time.


ESchiers, October 28, 2019 at 10:33 pm

The forum is listed as archive without an option to post new topics. What’s up with that? Does anyone know?


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