RAGBRAI XLIX registration is now open!

SUPPORT SERVICES WILL BE A BIT THIN

Be prepared, keep your water bottle full and pack a couple extra road snacks. I have seen small towns run short of food during normal years, this year does not shape up as a “normal” year.
https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/life/living-well/ragbrai/2021/07/01/ragbrai-other-iowa-events-struggle-find-volunteers-after-covid-19-coronavirus-pandemic-lockdown/7763088002/

RIDE RIGHT

6 Replies

GP_in_SD, July 2, 2021 at 10:29 am

Can you post the article hear or summarize? The Register has this article blocked with a paywall so the link won’t bring up the article for non-subscribers/out of state riders. Thanks

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Sandaltan ., July 2, 2021 at 2:30 pm

Jody Pirie hopes cyclists will “Get hosed in Moorland” on the second day of the July 25-31 Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. But with just weeks to go before RAGBRAI’s start, Pirie is still trying to find volunteers to help riders in town.

Like many events returning after the COVID-19 pandemic, RAGBRAI is having trouble finding volunteers in its pass-thru and overnight towns, and, organizers suspect, not because of lingering COVID-19 concerns. Rather, people are just busy as life returns to normal and after a year-plus cooped up at home, they want to enjoy events instead of picking up trash, said Tavis Hall, executive director of the local tourism agency in Waterloo, RAGBRAI’s July 28 overnight stop.

For Moorland, population about 200, it will be the first time as a pass-through town. Pirie spoke in late June by phone from a beauty shop she owns there, asking a customer to wait because RAGBRAI is so important to her town.
It plans to have food trucks and a DJ to feed and entertain the 14,000-or-so riders. A bar will share profits with the local parks and recreation board so it can replace playground equipment, she said. Pirie even bought a 7-foot inflatable unicorn that sprays water from its horn. “I think that RAGBRAI is going to have a ball with that,” Pirie said. “I bet it gets popped.” Moorland needs at least 40 volunteers to pull the day off, not counting the 10 or so members of the parks and rec board who will work 16-hour days, Pirie said. But only about half as many had signed up. Pire said she plans some last-minute arm twisting to make her quota. “I’ve been here for 38 years so I will find people,” Pire said. “We’ll get it done. If I see locals who live out in the country I’ll put them to work. I’ll just tell them it will be an hour. I’m pretty persuasive.”

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Sandaltan ., July 2, 2021 at 2:35 pm

CONTINUED FROM ABOVE:
Waterloo, which at 68,000 population is the largest city on the route, had even farther to go, with only about a third of its volunteer slots filled. Hall said it needs volunteers the day before, the day of and the day after RAGBRAI is there. VGM Group, a Waterloo headquartered medical services company, filled about a quarter of the volunteer shifts, Hall said. “Their folks have taken this as an opportunity to showcase Waterloo and making sure that Waterloo is known as a great place,” Hall said. “Hats off to those guys.” But some companies that Waterloo organizers thought would chip in manpower before the pandemic cancellation of RAGBRAI 2020 have not volunteered employees for the rescheduled ride, Hall said.
“Every company has their own spin on it and their own take,” Hall said. “We have been bailed out by having VGM being so bought in to our efforts.” Like Pirie, Hall stressed the importance of RAGBRAI to his community. The last time Waterloo hosted RAGBRAI, in 2010, the ride did not go so much through the city as around it. The main campgrounds and concerts were near the Isle Casino and Lost Island Waterpark about four miles south of downtown. This time the main campground will be Exchange Park, about a mile from downtown. All festivities also will be downtown, a district that has seen major investments and developments. They include SingleSpeed Brewing’s $6.5 million taproom, opened in 2017 in Waterloo’s iconic Wonder Bread Building, and the RiverLoop Amphitheatre and Expo Plaza opened next to the Cedar River in 2012. Hall views RAGBRAI as a chance to bring business to downtown shops that weathered the pandemic but could still use a boost. “We’ve had a heck of a lot of progress since the last time we hosted,” Hall said. “So it’s an opportunity to really show off.”

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Sandaltan ., July 2, 2021 at 2:43 pm

CONTINUED FROM ABOVE:
Organizers from Sac City, the overnight town July 25, also have put out a call for volunteers on Facebook and Twitter. We are looking for about 400 people total to get ready for Ragbrai, provide support during the day (July 25th), and clean up afterwards. And we have 400 of these cool shirts for the people who help! Contact Lance Wilhelm via email (lancewilhelm78@gmail.com).
@RAGBRAI_IOWA
Other events finding help scarce
It’s not just RAGBRAI that’s begging for help. Stephen King, Des Moines Arts Festival executive director, said the June 25-27 festival at Western Gateway Park also had trouble recruiting volunteers, despite being the biggest event yet in the capital city since pandemic restrictions were dropped. Organizers also had problems with last-minute volunteer cancellations, King said. Though some might see that as a troubling indicator, “I was not concerned by this, as I believe that everyone has to resume participating in public events on their own time,” King said. “We were prepared and made it work.”
A November study from Fidelity Charitable, the charity of financial services firm Fidelity Investments, found that two-thirds of volunteers had reduced or stopped contributing their time because of the pandemic.

It was an acceleration of a trend events organizers like Hall have seen for years as service organizations like Kiwanis, Rotary and Lions club chapters have declined. Organizers now must make targeted solicitations for volunteers, not blanket calls, he said. “What’s filling people’s buckets now is less about commitment to an organization and more about completion of a goal,” he said.

Iowa Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Mark Wyatt said there was a 30% decrease in volunteers for the group’s Pigtails, Big Rove and BACooNfundraiser rides this year.

“There was so much going on,” Wyatt said. “Everybody had a wedding scheduled, a graduation, there were other bicycling events happening. So it was hard to pull from our usual people that are out volunteering.”

RAGBRAI Director Dieter Drake said he, too, had a hard time finding volunteers for the June 19 Tour of the Battenkill, a bike race he manages in upstate New York. Most events recruit volunteers ages 50-70 who may still be somewhat averse to crowds, Drake said. But like Hall, Drake said that during the pandemic, the events industry also lost the attention of people who usually volunteer. He said he believes there will be a rebound in 2022. “Once they see an event like RAGBRAI come across the state, maybe they’ll have a little bit of remorse about not volunteering this year because they see their friends and relatives out there volunteering,” he said. Like Pirie in Moorland, Hall said he thinks Waterloo will eventually fill its volunteer slots. After all, big festivals can only happen if volunteers lend their time, he said. But a lot of people will commit to those shifts only a few weeks in advance, he said, suggesting it could be a nail-biter. Ultimately, though, “I have no doubt that we’ll be in a safe spot,” he said. “Every town on RAGBRAI and every festival that we’ve got will be in a safe spot.”

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#1344715

jomandre, July 6, 2021 at 1:12 pm

Thanks for sharing! Commenting so post gets a bump.

#1344909

U Knee Cycle, July 14, 2021 at 1:19 am

Bump’in up. It is one thing to ask people to pick up trash for free on a hot summer day, and another to ask them to do it in a suffocating mask and spend extra time on a medical survey and screening after they were vaxed months ago, all for an outdoor event with little risk.
Normal life they will go for, more of the same of what they have not wanted for months will not be as attractive.

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