Solve These Two Issues….

68.4% of riders are male; 23.4% are under 45, 56.3% are between the ages of 45-65.

How can the Register, or anyone, increase female participation.

How can the Register, or anyone, increase younger rider participation.

IMO, these two imbalances, are symptoms of decline, and should be addressed.

23 Replies

Jboz, September 24, 2019 at 5:14 am

Ken, I have also tried to convince cycling friends (mostly ages 55 to 65) to do RAGBRAI. The roughing it part is the universal block I encounter. Their first question is “can we stay in hotels?”. My obvious answer back is followed by a very quick “Umm, no thanks.”

It’s a paradox that sleeping on the ground is generally more palatable to younger people than older people, but the older demographic skew of RAGBRAI kind of defies that logic.


Miss Curmudgeonly, October 19, 2019 at 12:31 am

Those are official registration numbers, ie where they have demographic information. What about all the bandits? For some reason, this last year I started paying attention to who was wearing a wristband and/or had the band on their bike. SO MANY BANDITS. And the vast majority that I saw at least were younger. Most were younger women. (I know, I know, many caveats here, day riders vs week, maybe not EVERYONE puts the band on their wrist/bike, etc. I think my main point still stands.)

As an aside, while riding I was musing over what RAGBRAI could do to hammer home the “ride right” concept, because a lot of people were clueless. One thing I envisioned was a pop-up that people would get while regstering that kept saying in increasingly larger fonts RIDE RIGHT! etc. And registering wouldn’t work unless the pop-up was submitted on each screen. I thought I was brilliant, then realized that duh, people who are banditting won’t see it. Finally, while not everyone I saw riding in the middle was a bandit, all of the bandits I saw were toodling along in the middle.)


Anonymous, October 19, 2019 at 5:54 am

I love it when small minds bring identity politics to my favorite leisure time activity. Some of you folks really need to get a life. The world doesn’t need you to save us from ourselves. Did it ever occur to you that maybe women, POC and old people don’t want to do this? Here’s a thought… Why don’t you work on your own biases? Why don’t you stop worrying so much about perceived equality? I don’t know of a single cyclist who wouldn’t welcome anyone of any color, gender, etc. who wanted to ride along. The problem is not with us. The problem is you, your own biases, your own thinly veiled hatred.


Nico ZZZ, October 19, 2019 at 7:10 am

Randi sure is a shining example of Iowa Nice! It is that lovely, neighborly charm exhibited here that makes me go back to Iowa every July to ride my bike. To be surrounded by that Iowa Charm. Yessiree.

Ride On!


RDaryl Daryl, October 19, 2019 at 7:59 am

I frequently look to see if the profile of those who post here have a wristband attached (only available to be seen between May 1 and Nov 15) and when their profile was created before I determine the credibility of the statements made.


Tim McTaggart, October 19, 2019 at 8:05 am

My personal observations on the younger participants, unless you have a parent taking their child on the ride, it would be difficult to get the really young ones involved. That’s where it should begin. I took my son on RAGBRAI when he was 14 yrs old. He did four rides and suddenly it was important for him to work, then college, then a new job, and not as much riding. He’s in his early 30s but I think he will be back. He still rides but not as much.

The camping thing turns off many people, including my wife and daughter. I like to think of it as “you GET to camp”.

I did the last day of the second RAGBRAI only because I was not working that day and it ended in Dubuque where I lived. Otherwise I would not have been on that ride. The week they went through Elkader, I wanted to do that ride but I had to work. When I was hired as summer help it was understood, I’m covering for the regular people taking their vacation. Summer help didn’t get vacation. It was a long time before I was able to get on RAGBRAI. I get it, when you finish school and work, you only have a couple weeks vacation, you often use those precious days for sick kids, home repairs, weddings, funerals, school events, etc. Been there.

Why the difference between men and women? I’m not sure.


Sandaltan ., October 19, 2019 at 8:07 am

RAGBRAI has sponsored and mentored beginning in the spring, for many years, The Dream Team composed of school age kids. One of the many reasons being to increase youth participation. You, as a parent, seeing kids participating in the ride would be more likely to bring your youngsters on future rides.
The merchandise line has been expanded to accommodate women. Sleeveless jerseys, tank tops and jewelry added all at the request of the gals.

I think it is up to us to encourage our wives, kids and female friends to join the ride.


Jill Ellenbecker, October 19, 2019 at 11:29 am

[quote quote=1311466]Who else has the disposable income and/or the time to be able to take a week off to take part in something like this other than older people who are fairly well-settled in their life?[/quote]

I actually think this is a lot of it, and probably part of the reason for lower women’s participation as well. I had my daughter when I was in my early 20’s, and most of my energy, free time, vacation time, money, etc. in my 20’s and 30’s went to taking care of a family. I’ve always ridden a bicycle around town, etc., but I wasn’t really able to put the time and energy into training for something like RAGBRAI until my daughter was grown up.

Also, there are fewer women in cycling in general, due to a variety of reasons. I live in an area with decent (for the US) cycling infrastructure, but it’s still not “safe” enough for a lot of women I know. I’ve never felt unwelcome as a woman on RAGBRAI or any organized group ride, but there have been some incidences with drivers, etc. in the past (catcalling, etc.) on rides by myself. A lot of that could be discouraging, especially for young women. If you don’t feel comfortable training, you won’t be able to do the ride.


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