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

KenH, November 9, 2019 at 5:39 pm

As I mentioned I got an email reply from Anne Lawrie early this week and she mentioned a “newsletter” coming out early this week. I have not seen anything I would call a newsletter but I just now noticed that sometime yesterday an announcement of the opening of registration on Monday along with some updates was posted at the bottom of the main RAGBRAI page. Perhaps that was the promised newsetter, it certainly has the answers to some of the questions that people might have. The link posted above to the Pork Belly website does indeed have all the information that I saw early this week in an email from PBV. So now you all know everything that I know. Perhaps some of you know more and are sworn to secrecy….

On Monday I will do something I have never done before. I will register for RAGBRAI the first day that registration opens! I want to give the RAGBRAI team all the support and encouragement that I can so I am jumping in the first day. I hope that many will follow me, some of you will beat me to the punch, I am sure.

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Ben There, November 9, 2019 at 11:15 pm

With 2400 riders already committed to Ragbrai through charters, do the math, that puts Ragbrai close to 1/2 million dollars just from charter’s riders. That’s a pretty solid base to build on. 2400 is per PBV website.

#1312731

klkoopman, November 10, 2019 at 9:07 am

Brancel Charters committed to RAGBRAI last night (Saturday) via a Facebook posting. The PBV newsletter was a bit incorrect stating Brancel had committed to the ride, they were still deciding. I’m not sure people will stay loyal to their charter company’s decision. After using Brancel four times, my wife and I were fully prepared to become Porkers if they went the other way.

#1312732

Joseph Schlau, November 10, 2019 at 9:31 am

* 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.

Anne Lawrie is a name which I am seeing more frequently in Ragbrai related news.

The PB news letter describes her as;

Anne Lawrie, who, in addition to her regular work at the DMR, has been shepherding RAGBRAI through this unusual transition period.

When everything is going along smoothly, anyone can be the boss because it is the support staff that makes you look good. In times of trouble, and I have worked for several organizations which faced adversity, it is those “low level administrative folks” that keep things running. Many times, now freed of the stifling effects of their former director, they show their true talents and loyalty.

In today’s work environment it is not uncommon to have a degree in one discipline and transition to a different field. Many people have prior experience in other areas not directly related to their current endeavor.

While TJ may have been that happy clappy public face of Ragbrai, the sum total of talent was more than one person and still resides in the DMR staff.

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Joseph Schlau, November 10, 2019 at 11:25 am

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?

When TJ sent his resignation letter on October 15th, using the Ragbrai system-no less. He invoked the names of Jim (Greenie) Green, Don Benson, and John Karras in an effort to give saintly credibility to himself and his ride. “This Great Ride across Iowa” as he called it is named RAGBRAI, the only name I ever associated with a ride across Iowa.

I promised my mentor Jim (Greenie) Green that I would maintain this great ride across Iowa. I also made that pledge to the late wagon master Don Benson and 89-year-old co-founder John Karras.

This quote from the PBV newsletter paints a different picture and shows what happens to “assumptions”.

The family of the late Jim Green (RAGBRAI’s director) has joined with the Des Moines Register in support of RAGBRAI. Stand by for an invitation to “Ride for Greenie.”

And 89-year-old John Karras who co-founded RAGBRAI in 1973 has asked for a recumbent bike. He wants to ride #48. We’re betting he’ll be out there.

TJ never obtained the blessing or support of these key people, so what makes anybody think this vast cadre of volunteers are in his pocket.

While TJ is trying to elevate himself by standing on the shoulders of his predecessors, I for one am not lining up at the trough to drink his kool-aid.

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Miss Curmudgeonly, November 10, 2019 at 12:00 pm

After using Brancel four times, my wife and I were fully prepared to become Porkers if they went the other way.

Yep, same here. I love Brancels, but in my mind I know I would have gone with another charter if need be, to stay with RAGBRAI.

Re: the later post about John Karras doing RAGBRAI: that would be EPIC. SO epic.

I actually think registration for RAGBRAI might go up this year – if I were on the fence, and had heard about this brouhaha, it would make me realize that RAGBRAI might not be forever and that I’d need to do it while I can and show my support.

#1312738

Jose Medina, November 10, 2019 at 8:43 pm

I have done Ragbrai 30 years. I rode with John Karras. I have been in 30 Ragbrais. I started when there were no cell phones. I met my wife on Ragbrai. I gave her my business card to keep in touch. Ragbrai is here to stay !!We have been together 20 years. Thanks Ragbrai !!

#1312762

KenH, November 11, 2019 at 10:12 am

I just signed up for RAGBRAI XLVIII! Or at least I have tried to, got as far as the sign the waiver step and I am seeing a stream of dots chasing each other around in a circle ad infinitum. I suppose they will fix that soon enough and I will be in.

The latest newsletter from PBV says that they are hearing that the ink is drying on an employment contract….

There is a lot of speculation about what is or is not happening over at IR. I suppose it is still possible that the “new” RAGBRAI director will be TJ if he has come to his senses. Stranger things have happened. Whoever the new director is I am guessing that there will be several clauses in the new contract that were not in TJ’s contract!

#1312893

Jose Medina, November 11, 2019 at 10:35 am

I signed up this morning at 6:30. No problems. I then went to Hyvee for their Veterans Day breakfast. Thank you !

This reply was modified 7 months, 3 weeks ago by Jose Medina.

#1312897

KenH, November 11, 2019 at 12:46 pm

I reported my registration glitch to RAGBRAI and from their response it does not sound like it is a general problem. They offered to let me phone in so they could walk me through it but I am an engineer, I don’t need anyone to hold my hand and I don’t read no stinking manuals! So, I just closed the browser tab that was hung up at the waiver step and tried again. No issues the second time, whatever happened the first time was just a one-off glitch of some kind. See you all at the start town next July!

#1312907

Ben There, December 1, 2019 at 3:50 pm

Reply To: Can the DMR replace the RAGBRAI staff in time?
In the Fat Hill’s Brewery event, Anne Lawrie said that a former Ragbrai employee Wes Hall, who was the assistant director of RAGBRAI from 2007 to 2013 has been working since October 22nd on the Route planning. Doesn’t look like they lost much time getting someone on the job.. Wes is officially joining the RAGBRAI team as a logistics consultant per today’s DMR article.

#1313482

Jose Medina, December 1, 2019 at 5:38 pm

Were you at the meeting ? Give us some details. Attendance ? What was the mood. Any arguing ? Was the new director there and how was he received. Thank you.

#1313483

Joseph Schlau, December 1, 2019 at 7:22 pm

Here is a story that already made the press.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.desmoinesregister.com/amp/4347947002

#1313484

Bob Braigar, December 1, 2019 at 7:56 pm

Here is a link to the facebook page with two videos of today’s talks at
Fat Hill Brewing. Scroll down a bit for the second one.

https://www.facebook.com/northiowatouringclub/

This reply was modified 7 months, 1 week ago by Bob Braigar.

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