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Postpone RAGBRAI XLVIII to 2021??

I could be wrong but it appears doubtful COVID-19 will be under complete control with very little chance any riders, townspeople and venders could become infected. I don’t really want it to postpone but, also, I want it to be “safe” with almost zero chance of infection. If postponed to 2021, I propose the route to be retained in fairness to all communities involved. For planning, the decision for RAGBRAI should be done by at least early to mid May.

If postponed one year, the 50th RAGBRAI could occur in 2023, the 50th anniversary of the first ride.

109 Replies

mootsman, March 23, 2020 at 11:35 am

Complete control means? As of this morning 471 in the US have died due to CV. 20,000+ have from the flu this flu season. Any fear based over-reaction will be gone by mid-May I suspect. If you want to be safe, stop riding the road all together. Cyclists stand more of a chance of being killed in traffic then by CV.


LawnchairMan, March 23, 2020 at 5:01 pm

Don’t downplay this disease. It is easier to spread and ten times more fatal than any flu we’ve had.
The last projection I heard for Covid-19 was that 70 million would get it and 2 million would die. I believe that the only reason our death toll is not higher now is that we are taking it seriously and self isolating. The spread is still increasing exponentially. I hope 471 is all we lose, but I fear it will be much higher. Cycling fatalities in 2016 were 840. 2017 they were 777. That was for twelve months each. We have been fighting Covid-19 for what… a month? I’ll take my chances on the road over this virus!

Stay safe! Continue social distancing!


Jboz, March 23, 2020 at 6:24 pm

Mortality rates will be much lower if the current efforts to bend the curve are successful. The issue isn’t necessarily the lethality of the virus itself, it’s the virus’s characteristics to be transmitted rapidly. This is a respiratory disease, thus a subset of those within the higest risk populations will need a combination of drugs (encouraging news with the malaria drug chloroquine), and ventilators. Normally this is enough to keep mortality rates low, which is how it is with influenza, but the rapid transmission characteristics of this virus can quickly outstrip the availability of the ventilators. That’s people die. But that’s assuming there is a huge influx of sick needing vents all at once. The high mortality rates being suggested is based on a model of not enough ventilators being available to accommodate a large fast surge. Thus, the need for social distancing in very important for the next few weeks. Once the curve is successfully bent and flattened, everthing changes because the longer this virus stays around, the more natural immunity is built up. Note: The curve has already begun to bend in WA state, and it’s flattened in Wuhan where it originated. But make no mistake, it becomes a very big problem if the curve doesn’t bend soon. An effective treatment regimen plus enough ventilators to accommodate those who need it, and this becomes far less lethal. Time is our friend. This isn’t a linear equation. And I agree with LCM, please take social distancing seriously.


KenH, March 23, 2020 at 10:09 pm

We don’t really know the death rate from this virus. As one commentator put it we know the numerator, the number who died, but the testing rate in every country is too low for us to establish the denominator because so many get the disease and show no symptoms or mild symptoms that could be something else entirely and so are unlikely to be tested. Even so people will die from this so we have to make the terrible choice between killing our economy (which will also kill people in poor parts of the world) with strict lockdown orders or killing people by allowing the virus to propagate unconstrained.

At the same time since there are so many people who get the virus and do not know it the rate of infection is likely to be higher to much higher than currently reported. This threatens to overwhelm our healthcare system since a lot of people could require treatment in a hospital to recover. We are at risk of losing people who could have been saved if we let the virus run free. Italy seems to be in that state so the lockdown decision may be an awful one but it is hard to argue against it. China may be in same state as Italy. Lots of happy news coming out of the People’s Republic but there is a very real possibility that the state controlled media is just lying. If lockdown orders are issued in your state or locality, please comply with them. It is very important that we do.

It is too early to make the call on RAGBRAI and it is too easy to let events and decisions made the last two weeks cloud your predictions but it is certainly plausible that RAGBRAI will be canceled. A few weeks ago I thought that was wildly alarmist but now I think the odds are in the 50-50 region. There is still reason for hope but if this thing is not on the way down by the end of April I think it is likely that RAGBRAI will have to be canceled.


SFC JKL 2, March 23, 2020 at 11:35 pm

I think we’ll all be ready for some sun and fun by that time. If they do make the call, I hope it’s not until mid July.


mootsman, March 24, 2020 at 8:04 am

Those projections are just someone’s guess. The US death rate has already dropped below what that projection used. And if it’s so much more communicable than the flu how come the total number of flu deaths continues to increase faster than CV.

But the point here is stay cool and wait for RAGBRAI to make the call later in May.


mootsman, March 24, 2020 at 8:04 am

Those projections are just someone’s guess. The US death rate has already dropped below what that projection used. And if it’s so much more communicable than the flu how come the total number of flu deaths continues to increase faster than CV.

But the point here is stay cool and wait for RAGBRAI to make the call later in May.


mootsman, March 24, 2020 at 6:52 pm

They just postponed the Olympics which might give some clarity here. For an event of that magnitude they needed much more lead time to cancel then a RAGBRAI size event. The people running RAGBRAI have a good idea of how much lead time they’ll need. Since a CV plateau could be reached before then they are waiting based on the RAGBRAI lead time (not an Olympic size lead time). We know it will be before June 1st.


David, March 24, 2020 at 9:42 pm

The Olympics certainly need more lead time than RAGBRAI, mostly due to qualifying events.
As a note TOMRV, about 1 month earlier, has been canceled.

However, it isn’t really the Register that runs RAGBRAI. It is all the community volunteers, local officials, and stakeholders in the risk and responsibility of doubling (or more) their local population with a bunch of campers from around the country and world.

It really would only take one community to say no to end the ride. I would say 50/50 that the State or Register cancels before communities even have to decide. Nearly zero chance that every requisite party agrees.


KenH, March 25, 2020 at 8:41 am

From what I read if the Chinese government can be trusted (and we all know that it cannot be trusted 100%) then it will take about three months for the types of control efforts that the US is still in the ramp up stage of deployment on to stem the tide of the pandemic. But when did we really start? Here in Illinois we did not get serious about it until a week ago and when I last checked a few days ago Iowa and many other states are still doing little in regards to lockdowns, shelter in place orders, or whatever you prefer to call them. Based on that timetable it will be mid June at the earliest before we could sensibly declare this thing over. The critical thing for RAGBRAI is that there be enough evidence that we have turned the tide to give all the localities and the state of Iowa confidence that the event will be safe to host by the latest decision date, June 1. I would assume that RAGBRAI is confident that they can still pull the event off successfully with a commit date as late as June 1.

Personally I think that if all the states were in the process if implementing lockdowns right now we would be confident enough by June 1 to issue a commit to launch. As it is, I think the odds are about 50-50.


skb-mpls, March 25, 2020 at 1:59 pm

Six days ago I thought there was a 5% chance that this country would be able to contain this virus so that RAGBRAI could be pulled off safely. Now I would place the odds at 1%.

Our knucklehead president said that he wants everyone back to work by Easter – which is in three weeks! I’m guessing what is driving his timeline is that he desperately wants to re-open Mar-a-Lago for his guests and to fly down there and play golf for four days at taxpayers expense.

Bill Gates who has studied global health issues since leaving MS – stated yesterday that it will take a worldwide effort and a shutdown of 6-12 weeks to stomp out this virus. It will be very painful economically – but the alternative is unthinkable. Currently Mexico is doing nothing to slow down the spread of this virus. And many states are not taking it seriously until the last few days.

The governor of Texas stated that we should sacrifice folks over 70 so we don’t do more damage to the economy. I don’t think he realizes that if he has a heart attack in 3 weeks there will not be any ICU beds to manage his care and he could die – along with many others.

I’m hoping that the networks will stop covering Trump’s daily “political rally” and interview the scientists and doctors so that we get clear guidance on how our states should manage this health crisis. We aren’t getting any leadership from the White House.

Am I the only American citizen that is outraged and embarrassed that we are not able to respond to this crisis anywhere close to how China and South Korea have? I have read extensively and have not seen a good explanation why we were so slow to ramp up testing within a few days of the pandemic exploding in the US?

One last parting comment. It was written that Tucker Carlson from Fox was the only one that was able to get Trump to consider this pandemic seriously. So…. If Hillary had become president in 2016 and was reacting in a similar fashion to Trump and it took Whoopi Goldberg to change her mind…. I’m wondering how much outrage there would be.


mootsman, March 25, 2020 at 3:49 pm

Odds are useless fear mongering. RAGBRAI leadership will decide closer to the registration cancellation deadline at a time when much more will be known. Just stay frosty until then.


skb-mpls, March 25, 2020 at 5:55 pm

Your fear mongering statement is getting old.

We all saw the result of the fear mongering statements and don’t worry be happy with the “youthful” behavior in spring break in FLA and Mardi Gras partying in NO. They are the now latest hotspots!

Time listen to the doctors, scientists for information and follow their guidance. They are warning to take this very seriously. We lost over a month in not getting are testing up and running and a president that did not want to “fear monger”. We are all seeing where that got us. Now instead of being in the originating city(s) in the US – it is now in every 50 states!

KenH threw out 50/50. I stand by my odds of 1%.


Sandaltan ., March 25, 2020 at 7:28 pm

My prediction: RAGBRAI will be canceled. See yall in 2021.
David on March 24 posted a very important observation. That each community puts on RAGBRAI.
Think long and hard about that…will they be eager to welcome people from around the nation …. even the world?



cheymtn70, March 25, 2020 at 7:43 pm

Your prediction,Sandaltan, will be correct. However, I’m even worried about 2021. Absent an effective vaccine and with the possibility of a return wave, it’s possible that overnight towns and pass through towns will continue to be wary. We’ve all stood shoulder to shoulder in a small town swilling beer and eating god-knows-what. And then sleeping in stranger’s homes, schools, and YMCA’s. There will have to be an all-clear announced by leading public health officials (screw the pols) before we can enjoy RAGBRAI again.


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