Thoughts– 2021 happening?

What do you all think? Is 2021 happening? Why do you think so?

20 Replies

Mike Howe, February 18, 2021 at 12:49 pm

Judging by the new “Ragbrai 2021” merch they’re selling and advertising would lead me to believe it’s happening. Why sell 2021 merch, have a ride announcement party, etc if there is really that good of chance of the ride not happening.


Joseph Schlau, February 18, 2021 at 5:45 pm

After a very tough year I, like many people, looked at the promise a vaccine offered to return to normalcy. Last year when RAGBRAI postponed, we said, well it’s for the better. Certainly in a year things will improve.

As I have been tracking the progress of the vaccine rollout, distribution and inoculations nationwide, I am not seeing the kind of numbers to suggest we will be there by July. Maybe Christmas. If the people in the towns we visit and the riders are not protected by vaccination then normalcy and safety is an illusion.

The variants represent the new enemy at the gate. The news here is not positive.

So unless there is some glimmer of positive news on the vaccine and variant fronts in the next 2 weeks, it’s not looking good. Not ready to call it as no yet.


Logan Foltz, February 19, 2021 at 7:52 am

I read an editorial in the WSJ that suggests we’ll be at herd immunity fairly soon, based on the facts that cases have dropped 77% in the past six weeks, 15% of Americans (and rising) have received the vaccine, and up to two thirds of Americans have previously been infected by now (many obviously unaware of it). Take that with a grain of salt if you like. I’ll be watching to see how many “similar” big events go off as planned or are cancelled. The bike tour in Kansas in June was already cancelled. But there are a lot of other tours still scheduled for June and some that are still on for much sooner.


Joseph Schlau, February 19, 2021 at 8:51 am

I read an editorial in the WSJ that suggests we’ll be at herd immunity fairly soon

Can you pass along any links to the sources they relied on. WSJ wants a subscription fee to read beyond the headline.

I always prefer to look at the study itself rather than rely on a reporter’s summary.


Sandaltan ., February 19, 2021 at 9:04 am

Tampa Bay’s Gasparilla Pirate Parade usually held in late January, then, rescheduled for April 17th of this year, was officially canceled a couple days ago. Schools have been open for months in Fla and vaccinations are proceeding as the vaccine becomes available but caution continues to rule the day for most people. Far to the north, Bike Wisconsin is accepting registration for their full slate of rides beginning with GRABAAWR on June 12th. Bike Wisc is far less dependent on the local communities, most people in those Wisc overnight communities are not affected by the bike ride.

I believe there will be a RAGBRAI this year. I would not count on home stays and I would not ride a shuttle bus nor would I spend any time at a concert. I discount any talk of scheduled start times as completely silly.



Logan Foltz, February 19, 2021 at 1:07 pm

It’s an article by Marty Makary, MD. My Dad sent a screenshot of it to me. Unfortunately, he doesn’t cite his sources, so feel free to disregard the data.


Jboz, February 19, 2021 at 2:01 pm

The bike tour in Kansas in June was already cancelled

Completely different animal. Important to note that Bike Across Kansas (BAK) was cancelled for 2021 partially due to uncertainty about the virus, but also because:

“Less than half of the 478 of you who responded to the January survey, tell us “Yes, you will participate in BAK 2021 in June.” (The survey was sent to 1,550 past participants and interested persons.) To make a June tour financially viable for the organization, the minimum participation is 350 persons.”

Although they cite COVID, the reality is BAK is a fairly small tour that is operating as a 501(c)(3) non-profit on a shoestring budget. Holding a half-full event and running financially in the red would probably result in insolvency for the non-profit organization which would spell the end of a tradition and creditors left holding the bag. The 11 person BAK board of governors almost certainly does this without compensation, so why would they risk the stigma of killing BAK under their watch…easier to just punt to next year.


David, February 19, 2021 at 6:02 pm

For those that want to read the WSJ article.

Amid the dire Covid warnings, one crucial fact has been largely ignored: Cases are down 77% over the past six weeks. If a medication slashed cases by 77%, we’d call it a miracle pill. Why is the number of cases plummeting much faster than experts predicted?

In large part because natural immunity from prior infection is far more common than can be measured by testing. Testing has been capturing only from 10% to 25% of infections, depending on when during the pandemic someone got the virus. Applying a time-weighted case capture average of 1 in 6.5 to the cumulative 28 million confirmed cases would mean about 55% of Americans have natural immunity.

Now add people getting vaccinated. As of this week, 15% of Americans have received the vaccine, and the figure is rising fast. Former Food and Drug Commissioner Scott Gottlieb estimates 250 million doses will have been delivered to some 150 million people by the end of March.

There is reason to think the country is racing toward an extremely low level of infection. As more people have been infected, most of whom have mild or no symptoms, there are fewer Americans left to be infected. At the current trajectory, I expect Covid will be mostly gone by April, allowing Americans to resume normal life.

Antibody studies almost certainly underestimate natural immunity. Antibody testing doesn’t capture antigen-specific T-cells, which develop “memory” once they are activated by the virus. Survivors of the 1918 Spanish flu were found in 2008—90 years later—to have memory cells still able to produce neutralizing antibodies.

Researchers at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute found that the percentage of people mounting a T-cell response after mild or asymptomatic Covid-19 infection consistently exceeded the percentage with detectable antibodies. T-cell immunity was even present in people who were exposed to infected family members but never developed symptoms. A group of U.K. scientists in September pointed out that the medical community may be under-appreciating the prevalence of immunity from activated T-cells.

Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. would also suggest much broader immunity than recognized. About 1 in 600 Americans has died of Covid-19, which translates to a population fatality rate of about 0.15%. The Covid-19 infection fatality rate is about 0.23%. These numbers indicate that roughly two-thirds of the U.S. population has had the infection.

In my own conversations with medical experts, I have noticed that they too often dismiss natural immunity, arguing that we don’t have data. The data certainly doesn’t fit the classic randomized-controlled-trial model of the old-guard medical establishment. There’s no control group. But the observational data is compelling.

I have argued for months that we could save more American lives if those with prior Covid-19 infection forgo vaccines until all vulnerable seniors get their first dose. Several studies demonstrate that natural immunity should protect those who had Covid-19 until more vaccines are available. Half my friends in the medical community told me: Good idea. The other half said there isn’t enough data on natural immunity, despite the fact that reinfections have occurred in less than 1% of people—and when they do occur, the cases are mild.

But the consistent and rapid decline in daily cases since Jan. 8 can be explained only by natural immunity. Behavior didn’t suddenly improve over the holidays; Americans traveled more over Christmas than they had since March. Vaccines also don’t explain the steep decline in January. Vaccination rates were low and they take weeks to kick in.

My prediction that Covid-19 will be mostly gone by April is based on laboratory data, mathematical data, published literature and conversations with experts. But it’s also based on direct observation of how hard testing has been to get, especially for the poor. If you live in a wealthy community where worried people are vigilant about getting tested, you might think that most infections are captured by testing. But if you have seen the many barriers to testing for low-income Americans, you might think that very few infections have been captured at testing centers. Keep in mind that most infections are asymptomatic, which still triggers natural immunity.

Many experts, along with politicians and journalists, are afraid to talk about herd immunity. The term has political overtones because some suggested the U.S. simply let Covid rip to achieve herd immunity. That was a reckless idea. But herd immunity is the inevitable result of viral spread and vaccination. When the chain of virus transmission has been broken in multiple places, it’s harder for it to spread—and that includes the new strains.

Herd immunity has been well-documented in the Brazilian city of Manaus, where researchers in the Lancet reported the prevalence of prior Covid-19 infection to be 76%, resulting in a significant slowing of the infection. Doctors are watching a new strain that threatens to evade prior immunity. But countries where new variants have emerged, such as the U.K., South Africa and Brazil, are also seeing significant declines in daily new cases. The risk of new variants mutating around the prior vaccinated or natural immunity should be a reminder that Covid-19 will persist for decades after the pandemic is over. It should also instill a sense of urgency to develop, authorize and administer a vaccine targeted to new variants.

Some medical experts privately agreed with my prediction that there may be very little Covid-19 by April but suggested that I not to talk publicly about herd immunity because people might become complacent and fail to take precautions or might decline the vaccine. But scientists shouldn’t try to manipulate the public by hiding the truth. As we encourage everyone to get a vaccine, we also need to reopen schools and society to limit the damage of closures and prolonged isolation. Contingency planning for an open economy by April can deliver hope to those in despair and to those who have made large personal sacrifices.

Dr. Makary is a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health, chief medical adviser to Sesame Care, and author of “The Price We Pay.”


mootsman, February 20, 2021 at 8:07 am

For those that want to read the WSJ article.

Thanks David! Maybe RAGBRAI leadership can forward this on to the committees in the towns along the route to get them to go forward with RAGBRAI.


NYC Highwheeler, February 20, 2021 at 3:46 pm

To be clear, that is not an article, that is an opinion piece. It meets no journalistic standards, it hasn’t been fact checked, and isn’t representative of anyone but the author. As the middle-aged kids these days say, “That’s just like, your opinion man!”

Looking at the Data on the Johns Hopkins website:
As of Today, 2/20/21:
“Yesterday, the [United States] reported 108,275 new confirmed cases and 2,595 deaths.”
Which means that we are still losing 2,595 daily in the US, which translates to almost a million dead per year at current rates. Based on the graphs of new cases, we seem to be still doing worse then any time prior to November of 2020, before the massive winter spike. The “77%” dip has already ended, and cases are once again on the rise.

There are a lot of “maybe”s still to play out. Maybe the the vaccinations will happen faster than expected? Maybe more people have already had covid, and are immune to it (and other variants) than we know? Maybe the variants will lead to massive new spikes, and vaccines will need to be re-engineered? Maybe having a portion of the population vaccinated will lead to a total break-down of covid spread prevention protocols (masks, social distancing, hand washing, travel bans etc.)? Maybe natural disasters, civil unrest, or World events will change everything?

The one thing that everyone can do, right now, right here, on this forum, that would make a bigger difference than anything else, is to indicate to the people making the decisions that we take this stuff seriously. Show them that we understand the dangers. We understand what we can do to help minimize the spread, and that we will do it ALL without pissing moaning and requiring smacks on the knuckles from the measuring stick. THAT is how to make the ride happen!

Posting bad information, and saying that you think the various spread reducing regulation are a threat to your God-given American Freedumb to infect you neighbor, is the surest way to get the ride canceled!


KenH, February 23, 2021 at 3:03 pm

His may be a minority opinion but surely it carries some weight:

Dr. Makary is a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health, chief medical adviser to Sesame Care, and author of “The Price We Pay.”

The problem with expecting this to carry much weight in the RAGBRAI decision is that it is a minority opinion. The medical establishment discounts the type of immune response that he discusses and so whether he turns out to be right or wrong the weight of the medical establishment will be set against his notion. In a year from now if he is right he will be hailed as a visionary but that does RAAGBRAI 2021 no good. The RAGBRAI team has to use data, medical treatments, and sanitation methodologies that are available today to convince towns to hold the ride.

It is quite obvious that RAGBRAI expects to succeed or at least that they did expect to succeed when they pulled the trigger on those merchandise orders. That is a good sign but I don’t suppose there are any guarantees. I would like to think that I can get vaccinated by mid July. Illinois, where I live, is not doing the RAGBRAI cause any favors since we are among the worst of the states as far as the vaccine rollout goes. Our governor continues to blame everyone but himself yet almost everything else in the equation has changed in the last couple of months leaving only him as the constant factor. He just isn’t getting the job done and Iowa’s having a large underperforming neighbor to the east, the source of a significant number of riders, can’t be helping the cause.


Joseph Schlau, February 23, 2021 at 4:25 pm

I was eventually able to get an appointment and first vaccination at Walgreens in Springfield. For the drug store outlets you need to be flexible in traveling to them. They have no residency requirements like some counties do.

Cook County does not appear to have residency restrictions. If you register on line they send a unique code. There is a open registration starting tomorrow at noon which I just got an email.

Here is the info

We are contacting you because you signed up to receive COVID-19 vaccine updates at and are currently eligible to receive a vaccine based on the information you have provided.

Vaccine supply remains very limited in the United States. We will be releasing a very small number of appointments for our Triton and South Suburban College sites at 12:00 PM (Noon) on Wednesday, February 24th.

All vaccinations are by appointment only, and proof of being in Phase 1A or 1B will be required.


KenH, February 25, 2021 at 10:15 am

I’d rather not jump the line although many are doing that because it works. I want to see Illinois get its act together and serve the people, something it is failing to do in so many ways but why not start with this and now?

The Wheeling Wheelmen bicycle club in northern Illinois announced yesterday that they plan to hold their Harmon Hundred ride on August 1 this year. So that is a sign that people are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Of course it is a very much smaller ride (maybe 1k?) and it does not touch any towns except the one it starts from and there is minimal interaction with townsfolk in that town.

I just now noticed that Iowa’s Ride has updated their website about two weeks ago. They seem to still be planning to hold it but they do allude to the sorts of issues you would expect RAGBRAI to have as well. Now they had hoped to be about 5k strong which would make them a better bellwether for RAGBRAI’s chances but that is still well short of RAGBRAI size and I don’t know how close they are to 5k right now. Guessing not very.


bugs11, February 25, 2021 at 10:49 am

I believe RAGBRAI 2021 will happen, if the current trend continues. Someone close to me works at a major hospital in Iowa and the Covid-19 inpatient numbers have been steadily dropping since the November 2020 spike. As of yesterday the Covid-19 count was 15.

Yes people will continue to get infected and die from Covid-19, but one can objectively say the curve has been flattened in Iowa.


Jeff Hansen, February 25, 2021 at 2:18 pm

Last I heard KenH that they was thinking they were going to have about 2000 riders for the Iowa ride this year.


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