Which Ride Will "Win"?

It should be an interesting Winter, with both rides attempting to attract riders. I believe that tradition will carry more weight than disatisfaction over editorial decisions, and RAGBRAI will continue to be successful.

107 Replies

“Bicycle Bill”, October 15, 2019 at 7:46 pm

I’m suspecting that the Register has been looking for ways to get out of this, and seized upon this as a way to do so.  I base this on the fact that while they still hold all the rights, assets, and intellectual property that is RAGBRAI (including the forum, etc), they have posted nothing to attempt to explain their actions and even gone so far as to deactivate the original link.


jelly0317, October 15, 2019 at 7:50 pm

I suggest that you read their Twitter post.


“Bicycle Bill”, October 15, 2019 at 7:50 pm

I don’t do Twitter or Facebook.


“Bicycle Bill”, October 15, 2019 at 8:48 pm

OK, after reading a couple of other articles (including a great one posted by the Cedar Rapids Gazette) I see this was not the Register’s call on this one…. but they *HAD* pretty much started it with the whole Carson King coverage; and when TJ showed signs of pushing back they effectively backed him and his crew into a corner, pretty much ‘gagged’ them from further comment without first getting it vetted by the upper mucky-mucks, and no doubt reminded them that what happened to Aaron Calvin (and Chuck Offenberger, and Michael Duffy) could just as easily happen to any one of them.

I applaud TJ and crew for taking the ethical high road. Should I find myself in a position to ride next year, I know which event Iwould opt for….

Now all they need to do is come up with a catchier, more marketable name than “Iowa’s Ride”. Maybe something like “Crossing Iowa By Bicycle Once Again” — acronym ‘CIBBOA’ — which is perfect, since when we are all strung out along the road we look like nothing more than a huge snake (a boa?) winding its way along the Iowa backroads.


“Bicycle Bill”, October 15, 2019 at 11:04 pm

correction — BRIAN Duffy


Jboz, October 16, 2019 at 12:16 pm

I’m leaning toward Iowa’s Ride, and my reasons really have nothing to do with animosity towards the DMR over the Carson King story. Here they are:

Reason #1) It’s a northern route, and I simply like those better. If RAGBRAI selects an even better ride, I might do that.

Reason #2) TJ and the full-time staff that went with him are masters of the logistics. The complexity of all the moving pieces is staggering. Without out that institutional knowledge, not to mention the pre-existing relationships with the communities, vendors, law enforcement, etc., I personally think RAGBRAI is going to struggle. Where can they find 4 dedicated full-time experienced professionals with that kind of experience? I don’t think they can, and without TJ’s steady hand on the tiller, RAGBRAI could be a bit of a debacle.

Reason #3) The profits from Iowa’s Ride will go back to Iowa based charities, instead of Gannett’s coffers in NY. I really like that, and I’m from Chicago!

Reason #4) Curiosity…I’m really interested to see what TJ does with this now that he’s free of the DMR shackles. I already know what RAGBRAI is like (which I like), but Iowa’s Ride might be different enough to make it interesting. Worst case scenario, it’s still a 7 day ride across Iowa, which is great!

Reason #5) Missed RAGBRAI I (the 1973 ride). Always thought it would have been cool to have been the part of that inaugural ride, but since I can’t go back in time, Iowa’s Ride is an opportunity to kind of make up for that. If it blossoms from there and turns into something as special as RAGBRAI (or even better), then I will have accomplished the very first one!

All that said, I will be watching what the various charters end up doing. Also, I am not discounting the possibility that the DMR and TJ will find some common ground and reconcile. Or it’s also possible that Iowa’s Ride will not garner the traction TJ needs and he could pull the plug. It’s even within the realm of possibility that RAGBRAI will realize they can’t execute the ride without TJ and crew, and will cede the ride to him so the great tradition of RAGBRAI can live on, just without DMR or Gannett entanglements.


Jboz, October 16, 2019 at 12:34 pm

One other observation I want to make is this. While most comments on social media have been positive about TJ’s decision, others have been critical. I’ve met TJ and find him to be a straight-up guy, no drama, no games, just solid. For him to have made this move, I’m sure it was MUCH more than the Carson King story. That might have been the tipping point, but we will never know what kind of BS the guy has had to deal with. Organizational bureaucracy, internal corporate politics, fighting for budget/staff/resources, underpaid, lack of autonomy, and on and on. He and his crew probably had simply reached the point where they had enough and needed a clean break. I like the fact that he’s taking the high road, and in his comments has honored the traditions of RAGBRAI itself.


jwsknk, October 16, 2019 at 12:40 pm

Kind of had experience with the change in leadership on BigBam (Bike across Missouri) When it changed pass through town entertainment and beer gardens stopped. Towns didn’t know it was coming, bars and restaurants closed or way understaffed. Fewer vendors in camp, the Saturday night before nothing at all in camp. Bike or wait for the one or two busses to shuttle into town. One pass through town had only a garden hose hooked up to the back of a building, gravel parking lot, no real shade. no food in town.


Sandaltan ., October 16, 2019 at 1:30 pm

The best outcome for all would be that the DMR – Gannett – GateHouse Media would sell RAGBRAI to TJ’s LLC. The rights to bike rides are bought and sold from time to time. As example the first large Wisconsin ride patterned after RAGBRAI was sponsored by a newspaper, since then sold a couple times. Forget which newspaper, help me out here Beebs.



Sunflower, October 16, 2019 at 1:38 pm

I agree with Jboz’s points. Regarding the idea that they will reconcile, I think that’s somewhat more likely than I initially considered.

The DMR now has to face up to the fact that there’s an enormous number of Iowans who feel absolutely no goodwill toward them. Its mostly political, a red/blue divide.

I doubt they keep this front and center in their minds so now they’re facing the idea that running two events in coincidence will be a constant reminder to everyone that the paper does badly outside of the 6 blue counties.


David, October 16, 2019 at 1:46 pm

It is hard to imagine the Iowa State Patrol supporting both rides at the same time. One of these rides is going to have a hard time due to that.

Every big event like this relies on champions/evangelists in their communities and organizations. It seems like the ragbrai champions at the ISP are discouraged by the way the register handled the situation. While the general public might forget over the winter these key people tend not to.

Charters would probably prefer to go where their clients do. The problem is that logistic planning starts well before people are deciding. It could be difficult for charters to know what people are really going to want come this spring.

My hope is that the Register sees that their own ride is no longer practical and sells the rights. These rides don’t make as much as people seem to think, most of the “value” comes from getting good PR. If they aren’t getting that then it is worthless.


Sunflower, October 16, 2019 at 1:53 pm

Yes, the problems stack up, and up, and up. Your opinion on the ISP seems likely to be true to me for the reasons I mentioned in my post above.


Sandaltan ., October 16, 2019 at 2:49 pm

Sunflower: Much enjoyed your link to Burge…iowahawkblog…gave me a smile, a chuckle and even a snort. Thanks. And, the duty officer at the newsroom has locked the thread. I must consider that a noteworthy accomplishment. “Let no sunshine in lest some be enlightened.” A. Non



jwsknk, October 16, 2019 at 3:18 pm

there was a radio program this morning with a poll about the ride, which would you do? over 80 % going with TJ https://www.iheart.com/podcast/487-kxno-the-morning-rush-28237133/?fbclid=IwAR0nWXjD4sC-YNcLl08PJ8EHfUHGeylDIenAhYCSdcfdeQSH7BmJ_7KfZGo


Sunflower, October 16, 2019 at 4:02 pm

Sandaltan- Burge wrote a blog for years and years before moving to Twitter.

He is a genius. https://iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2008/02/heere-bigynneth.html

When Michael Mann got busted with his hockey stick hokum Burge did a tutorial on how to use excel plugins and statistical manipulation to get Mann’s data set to create the hockey stick. A PhD level excursion into statistics….Hours of material at his old blog.

I consider him one of the finest satirists alive.


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