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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 29, 2020 at 1:09 pm

Jboz: I think the curve is not exponential but logarithmic. There will be a plateau at some point as we hit the upper part of the S shipped curve. We are just getting into the steep part of that S curve now in some states.

The TdF says they will announce if they will cancel about mid-May or about 6-7 weeks before the event starts. RAGBRAI I suspect could have a similar lead time so they could go as late as early June although I’d think they’d also be in the mid-May time-frame. Plenty of time to hit that plateau and make a sound judgement.

In the mean time, we wait. And training is never wasted unless RAGBRAI is the only event on your list. And even then, training never goes to waste.


LawnchairMan, March 29, 2020 at 3:23 pm

Any guesses to how this will end? I have heard that New York’s rate of infection and or deaths has declined. Maybe their curve is bending. So there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. So what happens when the curve bottoms out? until a cure is in our hands we can’t go back to business as usual. Can we? Even when there are no new cases, shouldn’t we still maintain social distances?
I suspect that, once the numbers go down, we will drop our guard again so there will be flare-ups. I think we will need at least a month after the cases stop before we should do things in large groups.
What do you think?


Jboz, March 29, 2020 at 4:08 pm

Lawnchairman…WA state was where it hit the US first, and the curve has already bent dramatically there. To your question about how this will end? I honestly don’t know…but I suspect that with the rate of transmissibility being as high as it is, there is a subset of people (probably a very large chunk of the population) whose immune systems are able put up a fight and win…they never actually contract the virus (or better to say that the virus enters their bodies but is unable to develop a foothold enough to make them sick), but the failed viral invasion leaves them with the antibodies…this happens and they never even know it. The other subset are those who had a case of it, mild or severe, and survived. They will have the antibodies too. So at some point, everyone has the antibodies. At that point, the curve crashes, the virus burns out, and life returns to normal. My biggest unanswered question is around this virus’s ability to mutate.


cheymtn70, March 29, 2020 at 4:13 pm

Lawnchairman –
First, thanks for your reply on the change to E-shifting. You have elliptical chain rings? Wow. They look interesting – supposedly better power transfer?

No RAGBRAI this year.

Interesting article from the Washington Post ..

Part of that article ..
Concerns about exposure caused Anne Hyman, president of Potomac Pedalers — spanning Washington, Maryland and Virginia — to cancel all events until further notice. The week before, Hyman, who has a PhD in biomedical sciences, had asked cyclists to maintain six bike lengths of distance to avoid passing through the “respiratory signature” of the rider ahead of them. Ultimately, she decided that wasn’t enough. “I can’t risk the lives of people in my cycling club and their communities.” She also cited the prospect of riders injuring themselves in falls and taking up precious hospital space and resources.

This is not even taking into account of the status of the epidemic in 2-3 months. But just think of the time and the resources that go into the organizing and planning activities of each overnight town. Those resources are now going into keeping communities and families healthy and safe. The small businesses in these small towns are taking a major economic hit. Even if things are improving by June, there will still be disease present with isolated flare-ups. Nobody wants that rolling thru their town in July. I’m just praying to the Bike Gods that we have RAGBRAI in 2021.


Richard Luckenbill, March 29, 2020 at 6:46 pm

Dieter & Anne: Take the pressure off the overnight and pass-thru towns; Cancel Now! The leaders and residents of these wonderful Iowa towns have tough times ahead to recover and stay healthy. The vendors will hang their heads, the charter operators will cry a little, these towns will breathe a little easier, and, we the riders have the advantage of being able to continue to ride solo. 2021 will be a special come-back year, and a fabulous ride. Let’s all accept what is the right thing to do for all involved.


Jboz, March 29, 2020 at 7:02 pm

[quote quote=1317083]Nobody wants that rolling thru their town in July. I’m just praying to the Bike Gods that we have RAGBRAI in 2021.[/quote]

Sure, maybe if you asked them right now. But these towns work hard on being chosen as an overnight town, and they want RAGBRAI to happen assuming they get the “all clear” within the next month or two. So do most riders.

You seem to be suggesting a linear virus progression, which neither the data nor the opinion of experts including the CDC supports. This virus will follow it’s natural trajectory, and it will look different 30 & 60 days from now. Most projections are that we will be far into the downward slope of the curve within 30 to 45 days. The virus has already burnt thru WA state. NY is the current hot-spot, but Gov Cuomo of NY says that they expect the peak there to be within the next 19 days. What happens after a virus peaks? They crash fast. By June, this could very well be a distant and unpleasant memory. The only thing that should be suspended are early conclusions on what may or may not happen in the future. Let this play out. RAGBRAI will happen.


cheymtn70, March 29, 2020 at 9:00 pm

You might be right. I think I am. Anyway, if RAGBRAI does cancel, I would bet a small fortune that RAGBRAI 2021 would be the same route and same towns. Can you imagine what a celebration that would be. Who knows.


Jboz, March 30, 2020 at 6:47 am

As I’ve been saying, new cases are indeed dropping. The curve is flattening.


“Coronavirus cases in the U.S. and worldwide continue to soar. But new Covid-19 cases declined on Sunday in the U.S., Italy, many other European countries and worldwide. All showed significant slowing in the percentage gain in new cases, though America’s is still very high.”

Death curve lags the new cases curve by a week or so…but the news will focus on deaths now, not new cases because deaths are alarming and fear drives viewership and clicks. Within 2 weeks this thing looks very different.

Good weather and low road traffic in the corn belt this week. Get your training miles in.


KenH, March 30, 2020 at 9:36 am

The virus does not have an exponential growth curve. Exponential growth goes on forever, this virus will stop dead if it reaches 7 billion or so cases. You cannot flatten an exponential growth but you can slow it. In fact the curves that you see for this virus are roughly Gaussian bell curves and a Gaussian curve can be flattened.

Flattening the curve does have several advantages. It does however leave significant populations that are still susceptible to the virus because they have not been exposed to it and we have no natural immunity to this virus. The more effective our curve flattening measures are the larger the residual susceptibility becomes. I certainly agree that flattening the curve is what we must do, it conveys too many advantages to ignore. But one thing that could make Iowa towns refuse to host the ride this year is the residual susceptibility of curve flattening measures. If you flatten the curve without eradicating the virus then you leave the door wide open to successive waves of infection. Hospital overload remains a serious concern until two or three waves of infection have passed and the pool of still susceptible individuals becomes small enough that our existing hospitals can handle it. It is doubtful that we will be in that state by the end of July and that puts RAGBRAI at risk.

I don’t believe that anyone is doing anything to eradicate this virus right now. Vaccines have been used to eradicate other diseases but unless vaccine testing and approval is put on the fast track we will not have a vaccine before RAGBRAI. As you have probably heard the US government has extended its large gathering ban until April 30. Further extensions could follow. I still think the chances for RAGBRAI are in the 50-50 region.


cheymtn70, March 30, 2020 at 11:02 am

No vaccine – No therapeutic biologics – No RAGBRAI. The legal exposure is too great. There will be isolated flare ups as the pandemic wears down.


mootsman, March 30, 2020 at 12:51 pm

Stay cool and wait for RAGBRAI officials to make the call.


David, March 30, 2020 at 3:48 pm

Well, my next-door state of Virginia just did a stay at home order through June 10th. MD/DC/VA is getting ready for serious escalation.


NYC Highwheeler, March 31, 2020 at 1:24 pm

[quote quote=1317080]Any guesses to how this will end? [/quote]
Everything is going to be alright in the end. If it’s not alright, it’s not the end.
With that said, there are some very sobering things that have to be considered.

-The virus is tenacious. It spreads very effectively through the air. It lives on hard surfaces for several days, and a host can be contagious for well over a week before showing symptoms. Hosts may still be infectious after they have stopped showing symptoms.
-There is nothing even close to an effective quarantine in any part of the US, even the most hard hit areas.
-Efforts are being made to slow the rate of contagion, but again, these are not effective in stopping the virus to the point that it fails to find new hosts.

These things tell me that we should expect the virus to affect upwards of 75% of the population. We should think of this as something that everyone is going to get exposed to eventually. It will be a fact of life until vaccine, cure, or at least near instant testing is widely available.
If we prevent the hospitals from being overwhelmed, we could probably reduce the fatality rate to .5%. If the hospitals are overwhelmed, we could see fatality rates in the 5-10% range. We are a country of over 330 million people. 1% of 330 million is 3.3 million. The effect of this will be measured in the millions, even in the best case scenarios.

Near instant testing could allow quarantine of the infected, however that is theoretical, and essentially inconceivable for the vast majority of the country. Blood from those who have recovered, and eventually vaccines could change all this, but in both cases you are injecting healthy people with some version of the virus, and that isn’t going to happen without testing that takes many months, not weeks.

For the next several weeks, we are looking at slowing the rate of infection. For the next several months, we are looking at attempting to prevent the collapse of the health care system.

I hope I’m wrong about this, but I don’t see any facts that point to other conclusions. I also don’t wish to frighten anyone, but this is the time for science, not wishful thinking.

So go for a solo ride, and stay healthy everyone!


Jboz, March 31, 2020 at 2:53 pm

Worth perusing this: https://covid19.healthdata.org/projections

Select the state you want to view (in this case Iowa), then look at the curve, where it peaks and where it dies out. Folks, this model suggests that this will peak in about 2 weeks, then slow thru end of April, then slow rapidly through mid-May…and be basically over by mid-June. Get your miles in.


Jboz, March 31, 2020 at 3:04 pm

Erik Ferguson, I have seen absolute zero scientific evidence to suggest a US mortality rate of anywhere near 5% to 10%, nor is the CDC projecting a 75% infection rate or 1mm + deaths. In my posts I have tried to cite sources as much as possible because I believe having accurate and well researched information is important. If you have a source to support your projections, please share them. I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt for the moment, but if you can’t cite a credible source for the numbers you threw out above, then you making things up and other readers here should take what you say with a very large grain of salt.


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