RAGBRAI & How Does Warm Weather Kill Off the Coronavirus?

I get the impression RAGBRAI has nothing to fear from the Coronavirus in that warm weather should spell the end of the outbreak according to some news outlets. But does someone know why warm weather will save RAGBRAI? Either that or the US will continue to keep it well under control so no one will even think about cancelling RAGBRAI.

There are lots of myths about this virus as a popular search right now is how Corona beer causes the Conronavirus. Not sure how that got started.

Interesting fact according to my doc, the flu this year has killed thousands more people then the Coronavirus. Much of the fear seems to be a bit of an over reaction.

Don’t want to see RAGBRAI fall to the fear like the UAE Tour did:

75 Replies

KenH, March 13, 2020 at 7:57 am

So, my new bike is a Trek 920 which came complete with racks. If RAGBRAI is canceled in theory I could bag it. We’d all have to find some kind of cross state transportation but it is doable, maybe some charter would provide a bus if there is enough interest. It could end up being like the first RAGBRAI if only about 300 show up. I’ll keep an open mind about that but I expect the virus to be on the decline by the time RAGBRAI has to make a decision.

I suppose that most of you have noticed by now but RAGBRAI is extending the registration deadline to June 1. They do not say this, perhaps because the state could force them to cancel at any time I suppose, but I presume that June 1 is roughly the date they have chosen for their go/no go decision. Seems sensible to me.


skb-mpls, March 13, 2020 at 9:13 pm


I’m mostly a lurker on this forum… You have mentioned your Trek 920. I too am wanting a bike with wider tires for comfort & safety on urban streets & RAGBRAI. I’m purchasing a new bike in April. It a 4130 chromoly Steel Frame Fairdale Nomad with 27.5″ wheels that come stock with 27.5 x 2.0″ tires.

Are your running the stock tires on your bike? Are you happy with them?


H2Joe, March 14, 2020 at 12:08 pm

Here is a link to an interesting article in Science magazine on the question of seasonal changes in the spread of diseases and how this may affect COVID-19.



KenH, March 15, 2020 at 11:02 am


No, I am not using the stock tires. I feel like they have excess rolling resistance which is to be expected since they are low to mid grade Bontrager knobbys. Bontrager makes some much nicer tires, I’m not dissing them, but of course when you buy a new bike you’d rather have your money going into the other gear on the bike which you will use for a long time than into tires which you will change soon enough anyway.

I looked around at tires and road “slicks” with efficient high thread count carcasses are a bit rare in mountain and 29er sizes. They are a bit rare in smaller sizes too for that matter but not as rare. There are some out there but my last name happens to be Hutchinson and since there is a bike tire company by that name I gave into the temptation to buy a set of their tires in order to have my name splashed on the side of my tires! I decided to try their Skeleton cross country racing tires which are low knobs with a nearly continuous stripe down the center for efficient running on very hard surfaces. There are probably some true slicks out there that would be better but I am happy with these. I also went tubeless so I have shed the rolling resistance of inner tubes.

Bike tire companies are odd. They all seem to make a great many models that seem to have little to differentiate between them and they rarely if ever give you any information that would help you understand what the differences mean to you. A great many of them seem to be inefficient anyway with very low thread count carcasses so I ignore most of them. And tire companies are only beginning to understand that there is a market for wide, hard surface, touring tires. Hopefully they will catch on soon but there are some out there for us pioneers to use.

Of course if you do a lot of riding in urban or other areas where punctures are a huge problem some of those inefficient tires are very puncture resistant so you can’t be too quick to dismiss them. I run Schwalbe Marathon Supremes on my folding bike that I use for bike/train commuting to work. They are inefficient but nearly bulletproof and the latter outweighs the former when punctures are a big problem. I’ve had very little issues with punctures at RAGBRAI and on my weekend “normal bike” riding so I go for efficient tires there.

Ok, enough of my tire philosophizing for one day!


mcpartla, March 16, 2020 at 5:02 pm

This is a serious question and like most people I’ve been listening to the experts in the news and heat, humidity and sunlight does kill viruses. The 1918 Spanish virus killed millions but most between September and December and then it subsided. But viruses are also devious and quickly mutate.

Personally, I’m probably going to be at Ragbrai 2020 regardless of anything short of death but at age 73 I’d sure like to know what the Ragbrai officials are going to do to ensure a safe Ragbrai. One big example is beverages where vendors put the beverages in ice which quickly melts and then we hot sticky bikers come along and pull the cold ones out without washing our hands thoroughly with soap and water for wo seconds. Thousands of people sticking their hands in to retrieve beverages contaminates the product. I’m not too worried about most things but how do I make sure my beverages are clean?


mcpartla, March 16, 2020 at 5:10 pm

I agree … Ragbrai needs to get the word out on how they will protect thousands of people … better education for all the vendors … maybe they wear plastic gloves and hand us the cold beverages rather than each of us sticking our hands in and contaminating the product. Lots more hand wash stations and cleansers. I’ll be carrying my own gloves and hand cleaner for sure and looking out for myself. My number one objective each year is to complete the ride safely.


KenH, March 17, 2020 at 9:03 am

Yes, I have read recently that warmer temperatures and higher humidity levels do in fact kill the seasonal flu virus which helps to stop its transmission through the warmer months. I’ve also read that the corona viruses are not affected as much by warmer weather. And I have also read that maybe it is. There’s a lot we don’t know right now.

Illinois is basically going into lockdown as of today. Not completely, there are still plenty of things that could be canceled but bar/restaurants/schools are all closed. You can get delivery or curbside service at many restaurants (but not bars for some reason ;) !). Churches can be open, not sure the US constitution allows the government to close them actually, but most in the Chicago area are complying with the shutdown orders for other large gatherings. My employer unexpectedly ordered us to work from home as much as possible yesterday afternoon. I was literally having a conversation with a colleague who was very worried about the virus and who was upset with the company for not telling us to work from home when a voice from a nearby cubicle who was eavesdropping on our conversation chimed in “hey, you got your wish, look at what just popped up in your inbox!” I guess the president said this could go on until July or August in his address yesterday. I just checked on Iowa’s response and it appears that other than school closings they have not responded with general shutdown orders. Yet.

I’m still expecting that this will be on its way out by late July. But it seems like the RAGBRAI decision date will be around June 1, based solely on the fact that they have extended the registration deadline to that date. I suppose that in order to go ahead the RAGBRAI team will at least have to see the light at the end of the tunnel by then and at the moment it is uncertain that we will be in that condition at that time.

If it goes ahead then those of us who are older definitely will have to look out for ourselves. RAGBRAI and vendors will do what they can but other riders will short circuit any efforts they make, unless there is a fundamental change in human nature between now and then! Bring hand sanitizer (hopefully you will be able to buy it again by then) and use it frequently. It is not clear that age alone adds much to the risk the virus presents but it is clear that age plus underlying health issues makes it much more deadly. I am only old, I am expecting to attend if the event goes forward. If you are both old and have health issues you might want to give this one a pass unless the outbreak is well contained at least a month before the wheels start rolling.


LawnchairMan, March 19, 2020 at 1:34 am

The biggest problem we have with Covid-19 is that we know so little about it. Is it really affected by the weather? Is anyone naturally immune? If we survive it are we immune, or can we get it again? When, or will we find a vaccine?

We still have so few tests. Until we do, we can’t tell how many will be affected. Without tests there is no way to know how many survive without reporting it.

Will riders be able to afford to ride this year? Will businesses recover by July?
Vegas has just shut down nearly everything: hotels, shops, arenas, even my hearing clinic. Only essential services are open. Most of the city, has been laid-off. Small businesses may go bankrupt. This pattern seems to be repeating across the country. So the economic backlash of this could have a lasting effect. Predictions for a cure are 18 months minimum. I think the number infected will rise, fall and then rise again. I have a gut feeling that this is going to take a long time before we are back to “normal”. How will a recession effect Ragbrai? I wonder!


SFWP EXPERTS, March 19, 2020 at 6:15 am

nice one.


skb-mpls, March 19, 2020 at 6:31 am

I would give RAGBRAI a 5% chance of being held. Folks from all 50 states and multiple foreign countries converging on IA? Hmmm not a good idea. This won’t be over until a vaccine is ready for all.


skb-mpls, March 19, 2020 at 8:06 am

Thanks for your essay! haha

I’m on my third season with a Schwalbe Marathon studded tire for winter use on my front wheel on my 29er in Mpls. I’ve never had a flat on this tire and ride 125 miles per week on this bike from November > Early April. I have nearly 8000 miles on this tire and the studs are worn down a bit – but I still feel safe with this tire. On dry pavement I’m averaging 12.5 mph on my SS 29er winter bike. I have yet to find a mtb tire for the rear for traction in light snow that can withstand the punishment of urban riding. I’ve had 3 flats in the last few weeks. These mtb tires only last 1 season on my rear wheel.

After speaking with numerous LBS techs…. wider tires are becoming more popular and the 27.5 is just beginning to become popular. Unfortunately, the tire options are limited – but becoming more numerous. Surly too has a steel bike with 27.5 wheels which will allow for larger tires in the same frame as a 700 tires. Mpls is on a rampage to put bike lanes everywhere – but is not committing to maintain the potholes, tree lifts and cracks. I have given up attempting to get city leadership to commit to maintenance on the bike paths. They are in a race to become one of the “top biking cities in the country”. So a 2″ tire is just more comfortable to ride over these obstructions. Most of the city bike paths have a 10 mph speed limit anyway- which is not enforced.

I have a Fairdale Single Speed bike with drop bars that I ride around the city for most of the year. In the 5 years I have owned this bike I have increased the tire size from 37mm to 40mm and then took my fenders off to install a 42mm tires. Last August I had a fast flat on my front tire and it took me down (fortunately to the curb) and not into traffic. After doing some research on Sheldon Brown’s site – it is important to not install tires that are too wide for the rims. Many riders are doing this- but there is a risk of squirmy flats (best description I can come up with) that can take you down to the pavement.

For my RAGBRAI riding I run 700x42m tires on my Fairdale Weekender 1×11. I for the most part can ride across cracks without much concern and are very comfortable. Averaging 14 mph is fast enough for me.

Keep up the writing – I enjoy reading your posts.

Stay safe!


Larry Klaaren, March 19, 2020 at 9:15 am

There’s a chance for RAGBRAI. China, had their first day of no new infections today and they are preparing to lift the lock down. The first case was New Year’s Eve, so about 80 days. We are still 121 out from RAGBRAI. Plus we have some accumulated knowledge and technology re this disease from several countries that it hit before us. We will see if there is a second wave when lock downs are lifted, or if immunity is solid in the population. That will make a huge difference.


Lou Bouquin, March 19, 2020 at 9:56 am

China recovered in 90 days because they have the governmental power to keep everyone inside.

Read this thread. Way more “I’m gonna do what I want, this is a panic” free spirits in the Midwest than there are in central China.

Summer 2020 is going to be cancelled. Not just RAGBRAI.

We’re a few days out from Florida’s oldsters from having all sorts of virus clusters. They haven’t been modifying their day to day much at all as far as I can tell.

Once a Patient Zero shows up at The Villages (almost certainly has already happened) and you end up with 5,000 cases in one zip code we’ll see how it’s handled. I bet it looks a lot more like a police state by May than it does now.


Rob Tigges, March 19, 2020 at 12:16 pm

Do you remember the way they funnel us through towns? Basically sometimes two abreast as we are funneled through Vendor alley? I remember having to walk at least 1.5 mile to just get to some towns where they set up the Vendor alley. Do you remember the showers. The concerts. Any food venue. The Campgrounds. The beer tents. I have many good times there, but I’m always rubbing shoulders with fellow bikers in these scenarios.

I would think the host towns and any in between towns would also be wanting to limit the flow of people through their communities. People from all over the World, and all over this country.

This could last til August.

This sucks and I hope I’m wrong!!!


mootsman, March 19, 2020 at 12:34 pm

20,000+ deaths in the US alone this flu season (since October). Normal flu season US – 10,000 – 61,000 deaths. Swine flu (2009-2011) 575,000 deaths world wide. Hong Kong flu (1968) 1 million deaths world wide 100,000 in US. Asian flu (1957) 1.1 million deaths world wide, 116,000 US. Spanish flu (1918) 50 million deaths world wide 670,000 US. HIV/AIDS 32 million world wide. Just giving some perspective and hoping this helps manage fears about the coronavirus.


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