TIme to Make Peace and Come Back Together as 1 Ride

If the plans for Iowa’s Ride actually do not precede the whole King issue, I think there could be a chance of a reconciliation here if both sides would try. The Register has to reach out first, maybe through an arbitrator. The Register went too far trying to control the RAGBRAI director’s communications. And the director went too far getting the whole staff to walk and start their own ride the same week no less. And any lawsuit is not likely to go in Iowa’s Ride’s favor. So maybe agree mistakes were made on both sides (ignore who made the 1st one) and bring the entire staff back. It would be what is best for RAGBRAI and its riders.

If of course this was just an excuse to create their own ride, well, not a good thing. And the whole King deal has nothing to do with RAGBRAI. Which if I understand it correctly, was what TJ was trying to communicate but the PR firm thought ignoring the King issue was a good idea. That would not have happened, not in Iowa. Maybe on the east coast. Now, LET’S RIDE!

74 Replies

mootsman, October 17, 2019 at 5:24 pm

ESchiers, I suggest you listen to that TJ interview again. He did not say the DMR wanted to fire half the staff. He speculated the DMR might want half the staff laid off if they only got half the number of registrations because of the King issue. And getting only half the registrants itself was highly speculative. And it was TJ who thought he had to respond to the King issue. And his rational for choosing the 3rd week was speculative but he implied it was to compete for riders. I also didn’t hear the part where he was working without pay.

#1311990

“Bicycle Bill”, October 17, 2019 at 10:57 pm

Quoting KenH above:

I have already written to both parties to urge them to reconcile in some fashion that results in a single ride. I urge the rest of you to do the same, but be polite and even handed.

I wrote to:

Hunter, Carol chunter@registermedia.com
TJ? fun@iowasride.com

Another person you may want to send your “why can’t we all just get along?” email to is Anne Lawrie.  From the “here’s what you need to know” link at the bottom of the forum pages:

How do I contact RAGBRAI?
Email info@ragbrai.com or call Anne Lawrie at (515) 284-8388.

I wouldn’t suggest filling up her voicemail in-box, but I’m sure an email to “info@ragbrai.com” with “Attention Anne Lawrie” in the subject line will eventually get to her as well.

#1312006

reedkennethia, October 18, 2019 at 8:28 am

Sorry ESchiers, but that’s not what TJ said in the interview. He said he could imagine a time where they want to fire half the staff. He didn’t actually say they were going to do that. Also, he was working on the Iowa Ride unpaid on nights and weekends. He said the exact same thing during an interview with WOI.

#1312019

reedkennethia, October 18, 2019 at 8:30 am

There’s more to this story…
Please listen to the KXNO interview to get more information on the situation.
https://kxno.iheart.com/content/2019-10-16-former-ragbrai-director-discusses-resignation-and-new-ride/

– The Register wanted to fire half of the RAGBRAI staff
– TJ worked without pay to keep the ride going.
– TJ and staff chose the third week in July because that’s when people make plans to travel to Iowa, it was not organized that way for spite. If you lived in Florida, would you come to Iowa twice to ride? The date is good positioning for a new venture.
– The new ride intends to donate all proceeds to charities that are in Iowa– has the Register ever released how many pennies from each dollar are donated? If they have, I’ve never seen it.

My impression this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Sorry ESchiers, but that’s not what TJ said in the interview. He said he could imagine a time where they want to fire half the staff. He didn’t actually say they were going to do that. Also, he was working on the Iowa Ride unpaid on nights and weekends. He said the exact same thing during an interview with WOI.

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mootsman, October 18, 2019 at 9:34 am

The State Patrol announced they will support RAGBRAI as usual. And that no one from TJ’s Ride has talked to them yet. They did not say if they have the capacity to support both or they will allow a 2nd ride to go the exact same week.

As far as choosing sides there are more then just the DMR and the TJ side. How about the side called “the riders”? Splitting resources between 2 rides at the same time is a bad deal for us. The longer this goes on the less likely they will get back together. We need 1 ride and let’s face it, the DMR isn’t going to let something go they developed for 30+ before TJ became director. I think the DMR should try reaching out one more time. I doubt the State Patrol will approve 2 rides to run the same week. Especially since both are northern routes.

If Iowa’s Ride really had the interests of riders in mind, they would not have even over lapped one weekend in the schedule much less the full week. And in the same section of Iowa RAGBRAI is due to cover this year.

This reply was modified 1 month, 3 weeks ago by  mootsman.

#1312032

Logan Foltz, October 18, 2019 at 10:43 am

Agree that the KXNO interview was a bad look for TJ. He didn’t have answers to many crucial questions including whether there is buy in from the state patrol and local medical support teams. He also says he only thought of leaving RAGBRAI two weeks ago once the Carson King story blew up, which really strains credulity after working masterfully for 16 years in a pretty underappreciated position.

If there is really no axe to grind with the DMR, so many questions:
– as above, why not wait until 2021 to start a competing ride, and give everyone time to let the dust settle? Surely TJ and his staff can find other work this year?
– why announce a route in Nov 2019, unless it’s to get a jump on RAGBRAI?
– Why not take off the “muzzle” while still employed at the DMR and force their hand if they don’t like what you say?

I’m from several states away and do not want to sacrifice two days of travel for the experiment of a half-baked IR or a decimated, poorly run RAGBRAI in 2020. I hope the two sides can make peace, or I will stay home next year.

#1312039

reedkennethia, October 18, 2019 at 10:55 am

Agree that the KXNO interview was a bad look for TJ. He didn’t have answers to many crucial questions including whether there is buy in from the state patrol and local medical support teams. He also says he only thought of leaving RAGBRAI two weeks ago once the Carson King story blew up, which really strains credulity after working masterfully for 16 years in a pretty underappreciated position.

If there is really no axe to grind with the DMR, so many questions:
– as above, why not wait until 2021 to start a competing ride, and give everyone time to let the dust settle? Surely TJ and his staff can find other work this year?
– why announce a route in Nov 2019, unless it’s to get a jump on RAGBRAI?
– Why not take off the “muzzle” while still employed at the DMR and force their hand if they don’t like what you say?

I’m from several states away and do not want to sacrifice two days of travel for the experiment of a half-baked IR or a decimated, poorly run RAGBRAI in 2020. I hope the two sides can make peace, or I will stay home next year.

I love hearing a prospective of someone from another state on this topic. You are free of any bias to either side. This is exactly the way we should be looking at this problem.

#1312040

KenH, October 18, 2019 at 11:30 am

I am from out of state too but from right next door. I don’t have the same biases that an Iowan might have but let’s face it, none of us are completely free of bias as much as we like to imagine that we are.

I listened to the interview linked above and to one other that said little more than what was said in the email announcement. I don’t recall which media outlet recorded it but it was the day of the announcement.

There is no doubt that TJ has some valid points. But I don’t agree with much of what he says. For example the whole King affair means almost nothing to me. I don’t feel that the Register handled it properly but when the public called them out on it they made reasonable attempts to rectify the situation. That is what is supposed to happen in a democracy and that is what did happen. That is what a responsible business is supposed to do and that is what the Register has done. Expecting the Register or anyone else to be perfect is just silly. People and businesses who have made efforts to redeem themselves should be treated just like those who have never committed an offense because we all know it is only a matter of time before they do! As far as RAGBRAI goes I am an intelligent adult. I do not need TJ to tell me that a bicycle ride is separate from a news department. I can figure that out on my own. I realize that not all of his customers are able to do that but if there really is a lottery then there should be a supply of replacements available. And eventually most of those who boycott the ride will come back eventually.

It may have been frustrating for him to not be able to say any more than he did but do any of you think my job is frustration free? Do any of you really imagine that anyone who works for a medium to large corporation is free to speak publicly on matters pertaining to corporate interests? TJ faced the same restrictions on free speech that all the rest of us do.

It is nice that he worked on this on evenings and weekends. He did allow however that he has had multiple expressions of personal support over the years so clearly this move goes back farther than he claims at some level. Maybe he does not realize that but it is obvious to an outside observer. Doing things on your own time is no guarantee that there will be no lawsuit. TJ and his team were privy to all manner of inside information, intellectual property, and business plans. In order for them to succeed in court (if there is a lawsuit, there might not be) they will have to prove that they used none of that while setting up this ride. That will strain credulity given the extremely short time they claim to have spent putting it together. The best way to avoid this would have been to rely on those sponsors he claims to have to pay the team to put on a ride in 2021. If they cannot or will not reconcile with the Register that would be their best bet even now. But I think they have mentally crossed the Rubicon, I don’t know that there is any going back for them now.

In spite of all that I want to encourage all of you to write BOTH parties and urge them to reconcile. Be polite, be kind, be even handed, but write. One thing is clear, they will not come together at this point on their own. It will take a LOT of encouragement from US to make that happen.

#1312043

Mark Bundick, October 18, 2019 at 11:38 am

Here’s a least one person’s legal analysis.

https://www.thegazette.com/subject/news/government/des-moines-register-legal-options-ragbrai-resignations-carson-king-20191016

Back to lurking . . .

#1312044

Randi Rogers, October 18, 2019 at 3:46 pm

Nobody’s going to sue anybody here, unless the Register and Gannett want to double down on stupid. Read the comments. Your side has squandered so much goodwill. Read the positivity on the new ride’s board. Read the bitterness on the RAGBRAI board. Please, ride RAGBRAI. We’re going to be having fun on Iowa’s ride. You can be bitter with other miserable people. It’s a win-WIN!

This reply was modified 1 month, 3 weeks ago by  Randi Rogers.

#1312055

mootsman, October 18, 2019 at 4:30 pm

Kenh makes some great points. And let’s talk abut the 3rd side. Not the DMR, not TJ but the riders. Is it in our best interest to split this ride into 2 camps. Think of all the various vendors that now have to choose. So each ride I;d assume will have fewer choices and less support overall for riders. Our best interest would be served by a reconciliation and 1 single ride.

And KenH’s best point, I like him think few care at all about the King issue. Especially as how it relates to a bicycle tour.

This reply was modified 1 month, 3 weeks ago by  mootsman.

#1312062

Kyle Torfin, October 18, 2019 at 4:59 pm

I think TJ’s argument of “if we let a PR firm from New York give us talking points about this, where does it end?” is weak. The more I learn about this the more I believe he was looking to split for awhile and this was just a convenient way for him to blame something else. There is a right way to handle this and TJ didn’t choose a good path by insisting that his ride happens during RAGBRAI week.

#1312066

Bob, October 18, 2019 at 5:43 pm

How about the 2 rides use the same route, starting on either side of the state? Meet in the middle at a large town that can handle everyone. Food & drink vendors may get a few days to re-stock and get ready for the next group. Traffic jams are reduced. Fewer bikers may mean fewer accidents. Both groups meet in the middle and there’s peace and love.

This reply was modified 1 month, 3 weeks ago by  Bob. Reason: typo

#1312070

Tim McTaggart, October 18, 2019 at 7:47 pm

My random thoughts.
* Whether or not the DMR apologizes, I think the DMR knows they screwed up. This may eventually be in future business textbooks as a case study on how NOT to handle a PR crisis. They got their black eye.
* Often a crisis like this will eventually strengthen an organization, if they act on it properly.
* I’m not aware of any corporate organization that does not try to control what employees say about the company. It might not seem ethical but I believe it’s legal.
* With the new IR announcing a northern route, I suspect RAGBRAI must be a southern route in 2020. I certainly hope they are not crossing paths.
* It would be cool if they coordinated the rides on consecutive weeks with one going west-to-east then the following week the other ride going east-to-west. The first one ends at the same town where the second one begins. Each being a different route. People can pick their preferred route or week. It should take some of the overflow pressure off a single ride. For people doing both weeks it would facilitate logistics.
* If they go head-to-head, I have to believe RAGBRAI will win because: they are going on 48 years of tradition; RAGBRAI has the political and government support; and if there is legal action, the DMR has deeper pockets.

#1312074

Jill Ellenbecker, October 18, 2019 at 11:10 pm

And KenH’s best point, I like him think few care at all about the King issue. Especially as how it relates to a bicycle tour.

I’m from out of state, too, and I was wondering exactly how many people were upset by the King issue? And how many would still be so upset by next July? All we got here where I live was the initial feel-good story, and none of this weird controversy that followed. I certainly never expected the Carson King story to have anything to do with RAGBRAI beyond the fact that both are in Iowa.

Were TJ and the RAGBRAI staff inundated with complaints due to the connection with the Register? I see a few on this board, but not so many as to think that it would have affected rider numbers to any measurable degree (unless they were cleaned up?) Per his radio interview, TJ was happy with his job before this happened. Was this Carson King thing really enough to exercise such a nuclear option?

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