RAGBRAI length and format

In recent years I’ve heard riders wish for a longer route on RAGBRAI, but I think that’s unlikely due to the trend. Some quick math shows in the past 25 years, the five-year averages have been (from longest ago to now) 478 miles, 474 miles, 473 miles, 439 miles and 430. That’s a pretty significant change in that span, particularly the past 10 years.

I’ve also heard talk of RAGBRAI perhaps starting, ending or midway traveling through another state. I think that would be a risky move on RAGBRAI’s part, as there would be hell to pay for letting money leave Iowa. Just my thinking.

17 Replies

KenH, August 23, 2018 at 7:22 am

Ah, that’s your point! I didn’t realize where you were going. To me those rides continue, in some fashion, the tradition of the original rides. There may have been a time when gentlemen’s agreements between newspapers would have kept RAGBRAI out of another paper’s “turf”. Whether those still have any influence on the route or not, I think there are forces within Iowa that would want to keep whatever benefits local communities derive from the event within Iowa. We’ve seen that in some of the county permitting discussions and decisions this year and in comments that have been made about out of state vendors capturing too much of the “take”. As a rider I would enjoy dipping into neighboring states the way the Tour does. And the Giro which started in Israel this year. That works for events that draw an international TV audience and the money that generates. If RAGBRAI drew even national or regional TV coverage I would have learned about it and started participating in it many years earlier than I did. RAGBRAI is an Iowa thing however and I understand if they have to keep it in Iowa to guarantee that local Iowa communities remain willing to support it.


mootsman, August 23, 2018 at 8:47 am

I think dipping into another state that the only benefit to the RAGBRAI organization itself would be is it would promoted in that state’s larger metro areas on TV news coverage. That would be a good way to recruit new riders who never heard about it before. That’s why RAGBRAI stays successful even as these other rides have had turnout decline, they attract new riders. RAGBRAI may not need that now but if they look at the average rider age they may decide they need a promotional boost eventually.


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