RAGBRAI LI Registration is Now Open!

Show me the Money!

Channel 13 is investigating RAGBRAI and Gannet regarding their claims toward charitable donations. It’s interesting Gannet will not disclose the donations.


25 Replies

Sandaltan ., November 15, 2019 at 8:23 pm

It certainly warms my heart that the Highland Park Church received $10,000, The Des Moines Civic Music Association $10,000, Highland Park Community Development $10,000 and Iowa Wins $10,000.

RIDE RIGHT and hoping Iowa wins tomorrow.


RDaryl Daryl, November 16, 2019 at 7:43 am

The story mentions a foundation titled “A Community Thrives”

A DMR/USA Today Network news story dated April 8, 2019 includes some information:
A Community Thrives is sponsored by the USA TODAY NETWORK, the parent company of the Des Moines Register. The 3-year-old program invests in charities that support education, arts and culture, wellness, and other community-building initiatives. Organizations across the country pitched hundreds of ideas that would benefit the communities they serve.
The nonprofits will raise matching funds using a CrowdRise page created for each of them. Depending on their size, the groups must raise either $3,000 or $6,000 by 11 a.m. Friday. The groups keep the money whether they’re awarded a grant or not.
A Community Thrives will award 16 major grants nationwide. Three groups will receive $100,000; seven will receive $50,000; six will receive $25,000; and the weekly bonus promotions will total $200,000.

Since RAGBRAI nation comes from all 50 states, seems like the rational is to combine the profits from RAGBRAI into a national foundation and distribute the blended funds nationally.

Meanwhile, some small pass-through towns that host RAGBRAI can barely afford renting KYBOs for the riders. Thank GOD for corn fields !


Sandaltan ., November 16, 2019 at 10:41 am

It appears that considerable RAGBRAI profits are distributed by Gannett to entities with no relationship to bicycling or to RAGBRAI. Meanwhile Indianola as example, must charge profit vendors $800 and non-profit vendors $400 just for the privilege of setting up in their town which could be offset by granting money in advance to overnight communities to defray expenses.



KenH, November 16, 2019 at 11:41 am

That TV report was a good example of lying by telling the truth. I suspect that all the facts that they mentioned are true but they are not the whole truth. Maybe they were as much of the truth as the reporter was able to uncover or maybe they were as much of the truth as fits the station’s narrative. You can decide that for yourselves. But they say that RAGBRAI registration fees amount to $2M plus vendor fees and other income. So, already we don’t know for sure how much the Register brings in for the event but the TV story characterizes those as profits and they are not profits, they are the gross income. All expenses for the RAGBRAI team’s salaries, ISP, ambulances, insurance, and whatever else has to be deducted from that before you get to the profit. Based on the numbers given in the story the Register donates about 5% of the $2M to Iowa causes. If that were 5% of the profits it would not be bad but it doesn’t make the Register Mother Theresa either. However if we knew enough to calculate the actual profits it would certainly be more than 5% and that puts it in a better light.

I bought a Trek bicycle about a year ago and ever since then I have been getting email from Trek about this and that. Mostly new products and sales but this spring I was invited to participate in the Trek 100 Ride For Hope. Registration was $50 for early birds, $75 after the cutoff. But there was also a fundraising requirement. I believe it was $200 minimum if you wanted to ride the century option. I have seen an online report that the event this year netted $842k for the MAACC charity. I’ve also seen a report that the 2017 event had 1700 riders. If this year’s ride had the same number of riders they raised $495 per rider after expenses. THAT is what it would cost you to have RAGBRAI make “significant” donations to charitable causes.

Even if you were satisfied with having just RAGBRAI match that $842k number from the Trek event it would take $84 from your registration fee. I don’t know what percentage of the registration fee is needed to cover expenses. I suspect that a lot of it is because TJ is charging about the same for IR. If he was able to make whatever he defines as charitable contributions “at the highest level” and cover his expenses for significantly less money then I assume he would charge less. I am going to guess that if you wanted to see RAGBRAI contribute $842k to charity then your registration fee would have to increase by $40 or more. But admittedly this is just a guess.

But of course a great many of us are already making contributions totaling more than $84 to charitable causes as we ride all week. Like many of you I patronize charitable causes as much as I can during the week. RAGBRAI isn’t about the DMR contributing to charity, it is about US contributing to charity and I think we are doing alright by any measure.


BarryTantlinger, November 16, 2019 at 11:59 pm

[quote quote=1313141]RAGBRAI isn’t about the DMR contributing to charity, it is about US contributing to charity and I think we are doing alright by any measure.[/quote]


The whole charity thing is manufactured outrage.


Ken Reed, November 18, 2019 at 9:10 am

[quote quote=1313162]
The whole charity thing is manufactured outrage.[/quote]

DING! DING! DING! We have a winner! Right on the money. If RAGBRAI were a charity bike ride, then people should get pissed off about it. The last time I checked, RAGBRAI isn’t a charity ride.


mjeller, November 18, 2019 at 9:57 am

Totally agree! While I am certainly a charitable person, that’s not why I ride RAGBRAI. My charity comes in the form of what I spend in the communities that rarely have such an opportunity. It goes to the cheerleaders or hs bands fundraising to buy new uniforms, etc. I will ALWAYS remain loyal to RAGBRAI.
Legend & Legacy; an Iowa icon. Period.


Michael Strief, November 18, 2019 at 10:16 am

Yes, RAGBRAI is not a charity ride. The fact that RAGBRAI contributes to charity is simply icing on an already delicious cake. All of this controversy around charitable contributions and Carson King are outrageous and irrelevant, and will likely be forgotten in a year from now. Same for that one guy that caused such a stir. What was his name?…. J.T. or something like that? :-)


skb-mpls, November 18, 2019 at 3:24 pm

I concur with the last few posts. Manufactured outrage and cover by JT all the while he has plotted to destroy something (RAGBRAI). Each and every points he has attempted to make have been discounted. He lost all credibility with me when it was published that he setup his LLC 14 months prior to his resignation and had his web site and merchandise in place the next day after resignation.

This will be my 10th RAGBRAI that I have registered for. Being a frugule Norwegian and ex Iowan the $800 I spend to bike across iowa (including transportation from Mpls) is a grand bargain. Most of my meals are spent with local vendors.

There are dozens of other state rides I would go on before IR.

Am I missing something?


Sandaltan ., November 21, 2019 at 9:47 am

Council Bluffs lost $132,000. The CB tax payers will think twice before agreeing to host us next time unless Gannett can contribute some up-front money.



Ken Reed, November 21, 2019 at 10:17 am

Is it really RAGBRAI’s fault the town lost money? A lot of these towns come out ahead. So, with that being said, it’s really on towns and how they spend the money to set everything up. I’ve seen in the past where a town says it lost money yet a few years later, they apply again. There’s always more to a story.


Larry Klaaren, November 21, 2019 at 10:40 am

I have heard similar stories from friends who live in a couple of other overnight towns, although these were smaller towns and less money was involved. The question is: the towns do lose (or spend) money, how much do the churches, legions, etc., local businesses and entrepreneurs make? And then, what is the cost of lost business by the businesses in town who do not sell food and drink? People like car dealers, farm supply places, clothing stores, etc. Some of that applies more to smaller towns that are essentially shut down by RAGBRAI, but it is a question that is being asked. There is also a perception of future gain from people who return for some reason at a later date, which would be very difficult to quantify.


KenH, November 21, 2019 at 10:42 am

One particular news outlet is digging deep into RAGBRAI’s finances and charity contributions in order to generate profits for their own organization by digging out dirt that people will pay to hear about. I think it is important to keep that in mind. But, in the process of doing that they are asking some questions that should be asked. Whether or not they need to be discussed here is questionable but the Register can close down the discussion if they feel that it is inappropriate. Yes, it is a concern if towns are losing money when they participate in RAGBRAI and maybe both rides need to adjust their funding process to keep towns interested in participating in the future. That’s not my job however, that is the ride directors’ job.

In a report I have read one town says they spent over $100k last year and broke even. How am I supposed to discuss that? RAGBRAI paid them the standard $8500, I paid them nothing, yet they covered the difference somehow. I have no clue how that works. I realize that we the RAGBRAI nation dropped a lot of coin in their town but we did not give it to the city, we gave it to various vendors and organizations. I haven’t a clue how that works so I cannot discuss it.

But if the cities feel there is a problem then RAGBRAI and IR will need to address the problem in the long run else there will be no host cities and no rides in the near future.


skb-mpls, November 21, 2019 at 11:39 am

Perhaps the towns need to recalibrate what they spend. Is it necessary for them to spend $30,000 for a Hairball or similar band concert? I always need a 2nd pair of earplugs to get to sleep on those nights. Who are those concerts for? I’ve had many locals ask me “are you going to the concert tonight”? I always respond no, I’m up at 5:30 to be on the road by 6:30. Few on our team attend the late night concerts as we are early riders.

All riders need to support local groups, resturants that are overnight or are pass through towns as much as possible.


Amanda, November 21, 2019 at 12:39 pm

We always went to all the bands, every night and got up at 5:00. Now that we are older, we pick and choose the bands and sleep in until 6 -7. One of my teammates says you can sleep when you are dead. Pretty sure this will kill me!! LOL


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