“Clean” RAGBRAI 2021?

Maybe not to early to get ideas on how to make RAGBRAI 2021 more sanitary, more CV19 compliant. Like RAGBRAI’s dirtiest challenge, keeping Kybos sanitary, do riders carry masks to slap on in crowded beer gardens, etc.? Maybe we can help make 2021 happen with the right ideas?

213 Replies

KenH, November 2, 2020 at 9:11 am

Let’s talk about how the Cubs will handle the World Series crowd.

Obviously not a concern this year. Last time the World Series Crowd itself was nothing unusual. Games had been close to sellouts for a long time and the Series games were no different. The World Series VICTORY PARTY crowd, now that was different! My first clue was when I got to the Metra station on my folding bike and instead of the normal 30 people waiting for the train there were 300. The trains have a big capacity and I live way out west so no problem getting a seat. By the time we got to the station two stops shy of my normal stop the train looked like a rush hour subway train in Tokyo — even though our railroads don’t employ “pushers” to help pack the sardines in. The conductor had been keeping an eye on things for me so as we approached that stop he warned me that the train would be too full after that stop and the train would make no more until it got to downtown Chicago. I could ride in and then back out or get off now and have a longer ride to work on the bike. The latter did not exactly sound like punishment so I got up, sold my seat to someone for $300, and had a longer than normal ride to work that morning.

Ok, just kidding about selling the seat, I actually picked out a haggard looking woman who looked like she might not make it unless she found a seat and told her to act quick because I was about to get up. The crowd on the train that day was as dense as any I have ever seen at RAGBRAI. But that is rare outside of big events in small towns or small areas of large cities which is exactly what RAGBRAI is.

I’d love to see RAGBRAI go forward next year in some fashion. I rolled my registration over to next year and have been promised that I will get a seat at next year’s table. BUT, if they have to limit the size of the event and have to put those of us who have rolled over our registrations in the lottery anyway I am fine with that as long as if I lose in the lottery my registration rolls over to 2022. And if they have to do something like that I hope they will also conduct another virtual RAGBRAI along with the reduced size real one. I did that this year and I found it WAY more fun than I expected, largely because of the wonderful, fully RAGBRAI quality community that sprung up on their special Facebook page. I don’t want to have to do that again but if I do I will take the whole week and do every day instead of the only three that I did this year. Those of you who did not participate missed out on something special. It wasn’t the same as an in person RAGBRAI but it was surprisingly close. The spirit of RAGBRAI lives in each of us who have done it every day of our lives, in Iowa or wherever we live. The RAGBRAI team has responded to this challenge very creatively and effectively which is outstanding since even before Covid hit they had to deal with their own internal upheaval. We will get through this together no matter how long it takes to defeat this virus.

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KHOLLAND, February 1, 2021 at 12:24 pm

I’m with you! Load up on Vit D, Zinc, melatonin, etc. and let’s roll. We are now at 99.76% curable.

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Theo Mellis, February 1, 2021 at 12:35 pm

I’m not worried about it on the bike, I know of no cases where a rider got it from another.

This thing burns through mostly in indoors and or people in close proximity.

I can drink and talk 6 feet away outdoors like a champ, no big deal.

Vaccines are coming to us lower risk folks here soon, it’s February already

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bbrown, February 1, 2021 at 1:18 pm

Hang in there Dieter, Annie and your team! I second Jboz’s comment appreciating “how the team is leaning into this rather than away from it”. Likewise, I think a whole lot of us appreciate how you’re having to make tough decisions, and we aim to support you-all when you make your calls.

One broad theme sort of suggestion: When you have a lemon, make lemonade. Crowding has been one thing that has frustrated many a Ragbrai participant. Lines for everything, sometimes heavily crowded roads, packed pass-through towns and walking through them in big slow-moving crowds, overly crowded events, crowded campgrounds. Working on spacing things out generally could pay real dividends this year and in future years. Staggering start times with one kind of encouragement/ask or another, as has been suggested, could be quite a good step.

Yes, for a lot of people it has always been part of the fun to have all our large herds of riders packing along together. And yes, some of that herd fun might be lost. But it will be a cold day in hell before there will be a “shortage” of people around any part of Ragbrai, there will always be PLENTY of socializing, and I’d say way plenty of fun. “Spread out the fun!” might be a name for the theme.

That would only be one of many pieces of the things that need to be done, of course, but there’s one little brainstorming thought for you.

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mootsman, February 1, 2021 at 1:31 pm

Staggering start times with one kind of encouragement/ask or another, as has been suggested, could be quite a good step.

Decades ago I use to hit a popular (3,000+ riders) century that tried staggered start times. It actually created crowding as people would queue up for the next start. And then there would be these tight clusters of riders on the road. The group putting it on abandoned it after just 2 years because it made crowding much worse. Better to let riders leave when they want.

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jelly0317, February 1, 2021 at 1:59 pm

I could have sworn that RAGBRAI already has staggered start times.

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hnschipper, February 1, 2021 at 3:11 pm

I could have sworn that RAGBRAI already has staggered start times.

I have never seen suggested staggered times.

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Uncle Kraig, February 1, 2021 at 4:10 pm

I could have sworn that RAGBRAI already has staggered start times.

You are correct, they do. They start at about 5:30 am or so and stagger from there till about noon or so. Then the riders stagger (some literally) into the next overnight town from 10:00 am to about 10:00 pm 🙂

This reply was modified 1 month ago by Uncle Kraig.

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Dieter Drake, February 1, 2021 at 4:25 pm

Great observations.

If we decide to stagger, then it won’t be in the way people might think. We’d simply assign suggested start windows of, say, 90-120 minutes for “early riders”, mid, late. Perhaps you agree to do this voluntarily and receive an “early starter” helmet sticker. We’re not likely to enforce this, per se, but it would be mostly self-policed by other riders.

This reply was modified 1 month ago by Dieter Drake.

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LawnchairMan, February 1, 2021 at 9:02 pm

Yes, jelly 0317 is correct. Not having start times effectively staggers riders naturally.
Mootsman is correct too. Having specific start times would group bunches of riders at the starting line. I’m not sure if there is a solution to the “6:30 mass start”. Could we restrict the road for a single file start? Starting blocks at ten-foot intervals? Faster riders first? I don’t know. I’m happy to start at 5:30 and try to get ahead of the line of taillights. I avoid the bunch at all costs!
Y’all stay safe!

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Dieter Drake, February 1, 2021 at 9:04 pm

Yes, jelly 0317 is correct. Not having start times effectively staggers riders naturally.
Mootsman is correct too. Having specific start times would group bunches of riders at the starting line. I’m not sure if there is a solution to the “6:30 mass start”. Could we restrict the road for a single file start? Starting blocks at ten-foot intervals? Faster riders first? I don’t know. I’m happy to start at 5:30 and try to get ahead of the line of taillights. I avoid the bunch at all costs!
Y’all stay safe!

We will not do mass starts of any kind. Nightmares will ensue on a bunch of different levels…

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Joseph Schlau, February 2, 2021 at 6:21 am

Perhaps you agree to do this voluntarily and receive an “early starter” helmet sticker. We’re not likely to enforce this, per se, but it would be mostly self-policed by other riders.

Encouraging riders to become the sticker police is a bad idea. When you look at the number of confrontations within the past year between people over face masks which has resulted in assaults and even homicides, the last thing you want to do is now tacitly empower overzealous people with the implied authority to verbally harass someone else. Now add to this mix the possibility that there will be an ethnic or gender disparity between the parties and RAGBRAI will have a bigger problem for even encouraging it.

There are a number of reasons an early sticker holder can have a late start, health, wet pack up, bike problems to name a few. Having some self appointed sticker cop get in their face on top of that will not turn out well.

RAGBRAI can control what happens in the campground and how it provides services on the road, but the fact remains that only the real police can control traffic on a public highway.

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Jboz, February 2, 2021 at 7:06 am

RAGBRAI has always been “start when you want to start”, but that was compressed into an artificially tight window because of the baggage truck deadlines. If riders are forced to get up, break down camp and get everything to the baggage truck early, then they start early. Solve the baggage truck issues by staggering deadlines (3 different deadlines of maybe 8 AM, 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM) would spread people out more naturally.

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Larry Klaaren, February 2, 2021 at 9:34 am

Well my idea was that if you encouraged faster riders to start earlier and slower riders later it would string out the line more with resulting less congestion along the line, as the faster riders would not be catching up with slow groups as much, or at least bring congestion down at the breakfast stops. I do realize some slower riders need to start early to get done within the service window, I get that. And some people are going to stop for longer times than others. Just some thing to think about. I am not wanting to have rules for a recreational ride.
It would be nice if the groups who are going to make pace lines start early. Last time there were a couple of pace lines that caught up with me every day, one about 11 and the other about 2 pm and barged through the crowd. Every day. One of them caused quite a bit of commotion with their yelling at people.

This reply was modified 4 weeks, 1 day ago by Larry Klaaren.

This reply was modified 4 weeks, 1 day ago by Larry Klaaren.

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Joseph Schlau, February 2, 2021 at 10:20 am

Some of these fast riders or pace lines have their origins in the meeting town. Drink heavy, sleep in, take the team bus to the meeting town, ride fast, repeat.

If the public health situation nationwide has not improved to a degree where masks and social distancing are still necessary, then the concept of safety is challenged.

An effective vaccination program widely available to all groups coupled with a corresponding steady decline in new infections toward zero is the recognized standard to measure success. Illinois has set this standard as their criteria to relax all restrictions. Anything less still risks the towns and grandma as well as the riders.

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