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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

NYC Highwheeler, March 31, 2020 at 5:34 pm

I would take what anyone says on the internet with a whole truck load of salt!
It is important to remember that we are also generally talking about confirmed cases. I think it is safe to assume that there are a significant percentage who get the virus that never confirm it, either because of lack of symptoms or lack of testing. Due to that difference, I think the virus is more widespread then reported, but the effects are not as severe as some figures may indicate (although I think the fatality rate is slightly under reported because of deaths due to complications related to the virus).

I haven’t been able to find any numbers on total rate of eventual infection, only rates of current growth, which seems to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 2. That is, for every infection, it spreads to two others. There are two ways main ways this number decreases. One is behavior based – hand washing, social distancing, and quarantine. The other is when new hosts have immunity due to already having survived the virus. In countries where they took the behavior stuff really seriously, they have reduced the spread ratio significantly. With all due respect to my fellow Americans, we are failing in real time to adequately address the behavioral issues. There is insufficient data to make a scientific conclusion about the behavioral issues because we are in uncharted territory. We can make guesses based on what other countries did, but these are not adequate for real science. We are not China, we are not South Korea, we are not Israel. All indications point to a situation more like Italy or at best the UK.

As for death rate, take a look at this site:
The current US rate 1.9%
Italy 11.7%
Spain 8.6%
UK 7.1%

Again, if if we keep the rate of infection low, I think we could lower the virus death rate from the current 1.9% to something below 1%. If the health care system of the US is overwhelmed, we will be likely end up with something over 10% like Italy. Not to mention the other deaths due to the collapse of the health care system.

If you have anything scientific that disputes this, please let me know. I would love to be totally wrong about this stuff!
Also, new testing methods, or other medical advancements could change all of this overnight.


mootsman, April 1, 2020 at 2:27 pm

NYCHighwheeler Ferguson: You left out a couple of critical facts about Italy:
1) Italy has the 2nd oldest population on average in the world. More at-risk patients as a percentage. This effects the death rate.
2) In Italy it is very common for the elder generation to live with their children. This complicates isolating them.

Also the last I check the US rate was below 1.9. Below 1.0 in some states. And as you mentioned there are many cases of infections that go unreported since most have mild or no symptoms and do not even seek to be tested. This lowers the death rate if they were counted. Actual deaths would most likely be a more accurate number. So the reported rate would be artificially high.

But back to the subject. In due time, RAGBRAI officials will make the decision based on the situation at that time. Only they know the lead time they need to cancel RAGBRAI.


cheymtn70, April 1, 2020 at 7:11 pm

I love your optimism! Over the last few days we’ve all read of “super spreader events” .. the church choir in Washington, the church service in Arkansas, the funeral in Georgia .. RAGBRAI has the potential of being the granddaddy of them all. If RAGBRAI was held this year and there was an outbreak traced back to any rider on RAGBRAI … end of RAGBRAI – PERMANENTLY … lawsuits up the wazoo. Let’s wait a year … we’ll have better diagnostics and (hopefully) therapeutics/vaccines. I think we all want to bury 2020 as quickly as possible. Under the right conditions, RAGBRAI 2021 could be the greatest of all.


Papa T, April 1, 2020 at 7:34 pm

You make a good point (about Lawsuits) Regarding events this summer and the problem with tort reform in this country. If cash awards from lawsuits are allowed later this year for anyone getting the covid 19 that they may have contracted a a large gathering of people, Then there will be NOBODY willing to schedule a large gatherings of people. Large gatherings like baseball, football, political conventions, schools and churches. Thank God it’s not my job to fix this!


Mike Howe, April 1, 2020 at 7:54 pm

How would anyone be able to prove where one got the virus? You could get before you ever got to Ragbrai or on the way to Ragbrai. Proving you got it at Ragbrai would be pretty tough. Even if you could prove you got it Ragbrai how could anyone hold them responsible? Im sure theres fine print somewhere that releases them from any liability of things such as sickness, illness, etc.


cheymtn70, April 1, 2020 at 9:03 pm

Good point. Tough to prove. 20,000 riders pull into a “healthy” town. Two weeks later .. all hell breaks loose. Maybe no lawsuits .. plenty of bad PR.


skb-mpls, April 2, 2020 at 8:44 am

I’ve been reading Bill Gates take on the pandemic and is calling for a nationwide lockdown to put the brakes on this crisis to save lives and so the economy can recover sooner. He has been warning of Pandemics since 2015 and has been involved in global health issues since leaving MS.

On the CBS Morning News this am, Bill went on to say that it’s likely that many mass gatherings will NOT be held until a vaccine is widely available in a year or so. I would assume that this would include RAGBRAI.

My odds of RAGBRAI happening this summer went down to 0%. Sadly, I’m canceling my registration today. I use RAGBRAI as motivation to maintain my health and have cycled 1200 miles since Jan 1 2020 in Mpls.

See all of you- hopefully in 2021!

Stay Safe.


mootsman, April 2, 2020 at 9:11 am

Anyone’s particular odds are useless. RAGBRAI officials will decide in good time based on the facts at that time. Neither an optimistic or pessimistic outlook. Just fact based.

Some good points though. No one can prove where they got CV from.

And a developer randomly dropping an ad here on the RAGBRAI forum? Hopefully his technical skills are better than his marketing skills.


T. Gap Woo, April 2, 2020 at 9:26 am

[quote quote=1317208]

And a developer randomly dropping an ad here on the RAGBRAI forum? Hopefully his technical skills are better than his marketing skills.[/quote]

Once Anne and Dieter see the light, read the writing on the wall and postpone Ragbrai until next year, they can spend time cleaning up the garbage from the forum. That will keep them busy until winter!

See you along the I-O-Way whenever.


jeffreydennis, April 2, 2020 at 11:19 am

Unfortunately I think Wimbledon is an indication of things to come


mootsman, April 2, 2020 at 3:07 pm

Cancellation is a definite possibility. But I wait and see. I wonder when the RAGBRAI “training” rides will annouce delays (Pigtails ride, Bacoon Ride, The Big Rove). Some of those are more then 2 months before RAGBRAI. But easier to cancel so a shorter lead time to decide.


Logan Foltz, April 2, 2020 at 4:48 pm

I am expecting cancellation and keeping tabs on some of the rides scheduled in June to see when/if cancellations are announced to see if they may presage what is to come:

GOBA (Ohio)
BAK (Kansas)

Not yet cancelled:
BRAN (Nebraska)
RASDAK (South Dakota)
Ride the Rockies (Colorado)
Oklahoma Freewheel

I really want to do at least one cycle tour this year. If RAGBRAI does not work out, I may do CANDAK in August, OATBRAN in Nevada in September, or the NC tour in October,


Barry Stevenson, April 2, 2020 at 5:38 pm

My two cents….assuming that the ride takes place, neither the turnout or the mood of the ride could possibly be the same as in previous years. The ride “experience” is why people do this ride. Why would you do this ride knowing before hand that you won’t be getting the full “experience”? Second, the towns that have competed to be selected as pass through or overnight stops deserve to reap the full benefit for their efforts. This wont happen if the turnout and mood of the event are clouded by the coronavirus. Also, I would think that at least some of the residents of these towns might resent the possible exposure to the virus the riders represent. Can you imagine having riders or townspeople walking around with masks and gloves on? For everyone’s benefit, the ride should be postponed until next year with the same route.


Bernard Schwartze, April 3, 2020 at 10:08 am

BRAN is out now.

Dear Bran friends and families.

It is with great disappointment in these challenging days ahead that we have to announce the postponement of BRAN for 2020.

After dozens of emails and phone calls to our committee members and all of the host communities, the decision was made in order to protect the riders, all the other individuals and host communities involved to postpone the event until June 6-12 in 2021.

All of our crew and host communities felt it best not to reschedule the event for a later date this year. This will hopefully allow for time to get Covid-19 Virus figured out and under control.

At this time we are in contact with Active, our registration host, and we are making arrangements to send refunds to individuals registered. If you are currently registered you will be contacted by BRAN. No need to send Active an email. If you would have other questions pertaining to this, send those questions to or

There will be no T-shirts, jerseys, caps or water bottles sent out as our vendors were unable to produced them at this time. You will be refunded for those items as well.

When the virus situation gets back under control we will again start the process of gearing up for Bran 40 in 2021.
Our intent along with the host communities is to continue with the exact same ride that was planned for 2020,
thus allowing all of our BRANimal members and family to participate and continue on with the tradition of our yearly migration across NEBRASKA.”

[quote quote=1317233]I am expecting cancellation and keeping tabs on some of the rides scheduled in June to see when/if cancellations are announced to see if they may presage what is to come:

GOBA (Ohio)
BAK (Kansas)

Not yet cancelled:
BRAN (Nebraska)
RASDAK (South Dakota)
Ride the Rockies (Colorado)
Oklahoma Freewheel

I really want to do at least one cycle tour this year. If RAGBRAI does not work out, I may do CANDAK in August, OATBRAN in Nevada in September, or the NC tour in October,[/quote]


Sandaltan ., April 3, 2020 at 10:50 am

Thank you Bernard Schwartze for keeping tabs on the other rides for us.



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