My pitch for East to West route

This is part of my post on another thread. I hope we go to Guttenberg since, realistically, I don’t think we’ll ever see Lansing again as an end town.

I still would like to go all the way to Lansing but I hold little hope of that ever happening. And that’s ashamed – the end town always gets, it seems to me, less of an economic benefit than the start town does (which – I think – is the best reason for alternating West to East and the next year East to West).

People could take their time getting into a small, start town on the Mississippi. Some enterprising charter services could make some money running shuttles from the airports in Chicago, Milwaukee, Davenport, etc. Still, I think the DMR will not go to Lansing as it is tiny. But they should consider STARTING in Guttenberg and going WEST.

65 Replies

Iceman, October 1, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Ok, my turn.

(1) I bet you’d get a different answer if you asked on your survey “would you prefer every few years to go east to west.” Probably you’d get a lot of positive responses – maybe not, who knows? And what if it were “only” 25% that said yes? Would that not be enough to cause you to do it once every four or five years? As it is, I do the survey and generally I think it prompts criticisms to the immediately preceding ride – not changes to aspects of the future rides. Do you really think complaints about one town’s lack of water will fundamentally change RAGBRAI? There’s always one town that falls down on the job. But this route business is more of a strategic planning suggestion for the DMR. Variety of the routes from one year to the next is one of the keys to the popularity of most seven days rides and RAGBRAI is no different. You might be surprised at the answer. How would you know if you don’t really ask the question in an unambiguous format? That’s what bothers me. Whether I’m right or wrong – and I might be wrong – it seems you have the answer that suits you already.

(2) You could not be more wrong about “conspiracy theories” for vendors. My complaint has always been about breakfast availability – not vendor fees per se. I have never seen the overnight towns try to do much for breakfast and while I like Farm Boys and Chris Cakes, the lines are enormous and always have been. I don’t care if the cities and counties charge out of state vendors a thousand times the going rate they charge to in state vendors (it is, after all, a ride to benefit Iowa), I do think that they might want to back off on their fees to breakfast (not lunch, not dinner) vendors if it will consistently attract some folks like Mama’s back to RAGBRAI. If some of the new vendors fill the gaps and fill them every day, then fine. Other than that, I could care less if I ever see or hear of Mama’s again – they are just a convenient way to make a point.

(3) I will fall on my sword if Ft. Madison did better financially than Council Bluffs, but it would take a lot to convince me that, everything considered, that actually was the case. Further, there are many intangibles (business market exposure, tourism attraction, etc.) that inure to the benefit of the starting towns that I simply do not believe ever benefit the end town. Again, have you ever asked, say, Dubuque if they would prefer to be a start town? I’m sure they don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them their (end town) food for fear of reprisal in the future, but come on – they’d say yes.

I’d ask every off the wall question I would of everyone and every entity in Iowa if I thought RAGBRAI would be better off for it. What sets RAGBRAI apart from other 7 day rides is that RAGBRAI is as much – or more – an event than a ride. It’s the novelty that attracts riders back time after time and the folks I know that quit going after a few years generally do so for one of two different reasons. Some just want to see other parts of the country and go do Ride the Rockies or BRAT or GRAABAWR. The rest of them quit coming back when RAGBRAI is no longer novel enough to prompt their return (the analogy to the movie “Groundhog Day” comes to mind). Fortunately there are lots of new riders in the pipeline and the Mardi Gras atmosphere continues. I’ll always come back but pardon me, as a veteran, if I care enough to suggest some changes that would make the ride even better. I guess it’s true – no good deed goes unpunished. I’m sorry that you take my suggestions as non-constructive criticisms when we clearly both care about the ride.

#630200

jake d, October 1, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Hats off to you TJ. This last year was my 24th, and my wife’s 31st. We both agree the ride is being consistently run better than ever. Are you going to make everyone happy?; NO. Will there be issues?; Yes.

Along with the usual RAGBRAI announcement and instructions, Karras used to always include a disclaimer. It stated that the ride was put on for the sole entertainment of himself and whoever the co-host, Kaul-Offengurger-Duffy, was that year. Everyone was invited to register to come along. However, if there was something you didn’t like about the ride, tough noogies, or words to that effect. Karras was never shy about calling it the way he saw it.

Given the continued popularity of RAGBRAI, it does’t appear too many people mind.

#630278

Michrider !!!, October 2, 2013 at 7:13 am

jake d: Hats off to you TJ. This last year was my 24th, and my wife’s 31st. We both agree the ride is being consistently run better than ever. Are you going to make everyone happy?; NO. Will there be issues?; Yes.

TJ & his crew do a remarkably good job! I can’t imagine how difficult the logisics of RAGBRAI can be!!! TJ, you make it look easy, Thanks!!!! BTW, I’m OK with traveling to the East Coast of Iowa, as long as the Kurbs are in good condition!!!!

#630591

Iceman, October 9, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Mich, the implication of your saying “TJ & his crew do a remarkably good job” implies, in the context of this thread, that I don’t believe he has. Just the opposite, I do believe he’s done a great job. It’s just that I also believe in not resting on my laurels. RAGBRAI is like anything else – don’t change things just for the sake of change but be open to change in case it can be better. I think I’m a fairly perceptive person and I’ve tried to point out some possible changes which might – or might not – make great things even better. If we can agree on that, then asking the questions – like would you like to go east to west every four or five years – would be a great question to ask. Why is everyone so threatened by that?

#635666

“Bicycle Bill”, October 9, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Because we’ve always gone west to east, that’s why.

However, just so you don’t feel like a lone voice crying in the wilderness, let me be the first to suggest a north-south route.  Let’s start, say, at Sibley or Spirit Lake, and finish up at Centerville or Bloomfield.  Or better yet, Decorah or Waukon to Shenandoah or Clarinda — that way, Iceman, you get your east-to-west as well.

Or – better yet, gang — how about they do a big freakin’ circle like on CANDISC?  Then we don’t have to worry about getting back to our cars at the end of the week, either!!

-“BB”-

#635707

mootsman, October 9, 2013 at 2:43 pm

RAGBRAI would still fit for a circle route

Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride

    Around

Iowa. But ah, the tradition people, Across Iowa with generally prevailing winds at our back (west to east).

#635765

Michrider !!!, October 9, 2013 at 3:41 pm

iceman: Mich, the implication of your saying <span style=”text-decoration:underline;”>“TJ & his crew do a remarkably good job” implies, in the context of this thread, that I don’t believe he has.</span> Just the opposite, I do believe he’s done a great job. It’s just that I also believe in not resting on my laurels. RAGBRAI is like anything else – don’t change things just for the sake of change but be open to change in case it can be better. I think I’m a fairly perceptive person and I’ve tried to point out some possible changes which might – or might not – make great things even better. If we can agree on that, then asking the questions – like would you like to go east to west every four or five years – would be a great question to ask. Why is everyone so threatened by that?

Iceman, I don’t imply anthing! I say what I think!!! I like TJ and I’m happy with the West to East route!!!

#635793

Sandaltan ., October 9, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Iceman; I don’t think Mama Raphael has catered a bike ride in the last three years. I have asked a friend and fellow biker who knows the man and was told Mama has not catered a ride in the SouthEast for more than a couple of years. On a different note I talked to the Breakfast Delights guy and he was upbeat about RAGBRAI 2014. He said it takes about four or five years to “get it figured out” and he was very happy about 2013. Breakfast Delights is at the Des Moines Farmer’s Market on Saturday and he is my first stop after the 18 mile ride downtown.

RIDE RIGHT

#635858

Davy Sprocket, October 9, 2013 at 10:04 pm

Okay, so I am thinking a circular route, BUT, maybe it could go counter clockwise. Can you imagine. OR, we could do a figure eight and the center town could really rock the cash with the riders coming twice, PLUS, we would go clockwise AND counter clockwise. I think I am on to something. Oh, and it should be in the south….way south and not just 20 miles off I-80.

Seriously, I get all the arguments and tradition and honestly don’t care as long as we ride. What ever TJ and his crew come up will, I will be there. It’s not the direction, it’s the people! Ride On!

See you all in the south this year!

Davy

#635934

Iceman, October 10, 2013 at 8:21 am

ST – I was told Mama R catered either BRAT or BRAG in 2012 and still is quite active in bike and non-bike events. But you still missed the point – I don’t really care about Mama R. I care about being able to start RAGBRAI each morning knowing that I can count on, hopefully, four or five quality breakfast providers and that they will be there every day. If that was corrected in 2013 – I was not there last summer – so much the better as long as they return annually. Frankly, I could care less if it’s Mama R or someone else, just as long as they are there every day.

#636152

Sandaltan ., October 10, 2013 at 6:25 pm

Iceman, I will look for you at Breakfast Delights that first Sunday of RAGBRAI in July of 2014.

RIDE RIGHT

#636521

Iceman, October 11, 2013 at 11:02 am

ST – I hope to see you there. No guarantees. I go where my group goes and there is a growing movement within the group to attend Ride the Rockies instead of RAGBRAI. Don’t know if I can do both – I’ll defer to my bride of 40 years and her demands of at least one week of non-biking vacation per year. Guess that’s why I’m still married after all these years. The good news is that the RAGBRAI route will be announced prior to the usual opening date for RTR.

#637049

trknight, October 11, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Well, at least the discussion is diverting away from riding from the east instead of the west or around in a big circle.

Personally, I like that the ride starts near the Missouri River (unless way up north) on the west border of Iowa and ends up on the Mississippi on the east border of Iowa. I have a friend who did the Race Across America on a relay and talked about dipping tires in both the Pacific and Atlantic, like many of us do with the Missouri and Mississippi.

I like it that there is a higher probability of tail wind than head wind. I don’t like head wind. I love it that, in 41 years of RAGBRAI, the route has never repeated itself and as long as the ride lasts, I hope it never does. I love the great hospitality of the communities and people of Iowa. It is this, and the tradition, that makes RAGBRAI an event to be experienced rather than just a great bike ride.

#637053

Iceman, October 11, 2013 at 6:09 pm

Yes TRKnight – I love all those things too. Why would you think I don’t? I just would like to occasionally go east to west.

#637195

Iceman, October 14, 2013 at 9:02 am

TRKnight – You know, upon reflection over the weekend, I think you sort of made my point for me with your last post with the talk of the people and the hospitality, etc.

I know more that just a few people with whom I ride at home that will likely never go back to RAGBRAI. They have each done it at least three or four times but, regardless of the route, the towns all start looking alike and they just want to see other parts of the country. That makes me sad. I like riding with them and I wish there were some excuse to lure them back since I have long believed (as do you) RAGBRAI – reqardless of the routes – to be an event rather than just a ride.

As superficial as it might sound, seems to me like the novelty of east to west would draw some veterans to ride again and for the rest of us – well, we’re probably going to ride anyway, regardless of the route. And oh, by the way, I still think the eastern (ending) towns would prefer on occasion to be starting towns.

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