We last rode RAGBRAI in 2016, so it has been awhile. We have also ridden Ride the Rockies several times, and RAGBRAI and RtR are now owned and run by the same organization. From what I understand RtR is pretty much a disaster this year, I am on their mailing list and never received any notice of the ride dates or details, just a mysterious quasi-apology email about them not understanding why the towns in CO are not as accommodating as the ones in Iowa. Weird. Turns out the ride starts Sunday and they still do not have all of their permits ironed out!!!
Granted RtR is quite a different ride from RAGBRAI, there are only a few small charters, and the riders are much more hard core, since the route is very difficult. I was surprised to see that they expect fewer than 1000 riders this year, it used to be capped at 2000 and we were shut out of the lottery a couple of times.
So, will RAGBRAI be a debacle, or are the organizers in Iowa more on top of it? I know the numbers have fallen at RAGBRAI recently as well, which is sad, the days of 15-20,000 are long gone, but I’m guessing it will still be the biggest ride of the year for almost everyone. 10,000 maybe? Or fewer?
All road cycling events are way down. Road cycling is just too dangerous in many areas now, so the number of people riding is a fraction of what it was 20-30 years ago. If you can’t train, you can’t ride something like RAGBRAI or RtR. I know several road racers in Colorado who said the attendance at sanctioned road races is also so low that a lot of them are disappearing. If it were’nt for the “elder” categories, road racing would probably be back to numbers not seen since the 1960’s. Juniors are almost non-existent, the Colorado state championship road race for Men 17-18 had a grand total of FIVE riders. Permits are almost impossible to get for road races. It doesn’t bode well for the future of road cycling, whether it is road racing or tours like RAGBRAI or RtR.