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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

KenH, October 16, 2019 at 4:03 pm

I don’t have an opinion on which one will succeed. I do think it is likely that only one will. The next most likely thing is that both fail. In last place, I think, is that both succeed. I’m hoping for a reconciliation of sorts. I think it is long past time for the ride to move out of the Register. They need the operational and “editorial” autonomy that the Register cannot afford to give any of their subdivisions. But I am sad to see it happen like this and from the sounds of it John Karras is too. The best outcome is that they agree to equitable separation terms and there is only one ride next year and going forward. The Register deserves a lot of credit for creating the ride and carrying it along all these years. They are probably not the right environment to keep it going in the future however. They certainly could be a partner in that effort along with a lot of other groups and companies.

So what do you do if your team or club or charter or favorite food vendor decides to go with the other ride? That is the position this turn of events puts us in and no matter how upbeat you are about “your side’s” chances for the future that is a bad thing for all of us. And Iowa. And the ISP who I assume will have a major say in this.


Sunflower, October 16, 2019 at 4:25 pm

I ran this whole thing past a friend in Dallas who has wanted to come do the ride for several years. Her reaction was, “when the Register got between Carson King and the Children’s Hospital over tweets they stepped on their dick.” She wasn’t aware of the 1st Quarter Wave and when she watched a CNN piece on it and thought about the controversy she said, “why would anyone want to have to think about the Des Moines Register, Carson King, that hospital and RAGBRAI all at the same time?”

On that list, the one that’s the most dispensable for riders is the DMR.


ts, October 16, 2019 at 4:40 pm

If both parties continue their current paths, no one wins. I have never met TJ, but I have heard nothing but nice things about him. At the same time, I can’t help feeling that this is an extreme over-reaction to a communications policy that virtually every company in the world maintains and enforces. If nothing changes, I will almost certainly find another state to ride across in the future. There are lots of cross-state rides that sound interesting.


Sunflower, October 16, 2019 at 5:12 pm

You’re missing the point, I think, TS.

A big company’s communications policy and this ride have a fundamental conflict of interests.

I’m quite happy to see it settled in the sunshine of individual choices.


Rodcrosgrove, October 16, 2019 at 6:01 pm

I hope they sell the rights to TJs group. 2 rides at the same time causes too many problems. Register please do this.


Michael Parrott, October 16, 2019 at 6:28 pm

What does it mean to “win”? Maybe the two rides evolve into different experiences. I for one am excited about the chance to witness “Iowa’s Ride 1” and be a part of something new! Worst case scenario is shorter lines for the kybo and hot showers!


Jboz, October 16, 2019 at 6:38 pm

Question: So let’s say that the 2 rides proceed for the next few years concurrently, and each one takes approximately 50% of the original RAGBRAI rider base. I’m assuming TJ has done the math and figures that he can make the finances work with far fewer riders…and if he can, then the Register should be able to as well. So, on their own with 5,000 to 7,000 riders, each of these 2 rides would still be among the largest annual cycling gatherings in the US. Maybe #1 and #2 in terms of size..lots of folks and lots of fun. Would the experience really be that diminished to have a slightly smaller ride? Shorter lines, less congested pass-thru towns, easier to pitch a tent, charters like PBV and Bubba can set up closer to town, maybe even some new overnight towns that would otherwise be too small. Longer term, competitive pressures would cause each ride to innovate to make it even better. Does that really sound so bad? What am I missing?


Michael Nosbisch, October 16, 2019 at 6:46 pm

I’ll be riding RAGBRAI, TJ’s actions have turned me off from switching. They are the ones making us choose and I choose RAGBRAI.


Sandaltan ., October 16, 2019 at 7:14 pm

Team Gourmet has committed to Iowa’s Ride I. I look for a Sioux City start.



skb-mpls, October 16, 2019 at 8:41 pm

I think both sides need to come to their senses and work this out. To paraphrase Karras “I don’t see how the competition is going to work” and Openheimer (sp?) also said that the split may doom RAGBRAI. One can look are nearby states and see rides across the state that have a few hundred folks riding. RAGBRAI is a wonderful gem that should not deteriorate due to lack of communication and unwillingness to compromise. I’m a 9 year veteran of RABRAI & I’m not sure I will support either ride now.

Both parties need to meet and work this out for the greater good.

Sheldon in Mpls


Tom Hotle, October 16, 2019 at 8:52 pm

I’m thinking I’ll try both next year. As long as I have my own support vehicle and day passes for the days riding in each, what would stop me from 1st 4 days on RAGBRAI and last 3 on Iowa’s ride? (OK, maybe Iowa’s ride will only have a week long pass, so I’ll spend a few extra bucks for the week pass.)

I’ll wear my Iowa’s ride jersey on RAGBRAI and my RAGBRAI jersey on Iowa’s ride.

Would be kinda cool (and chaotic?) if the routes crossed on day 4!!

I’d still prefer to see the two reconcile.


StevenLawyer, October 16, 2019 at 11:03 pm

Does anyone know what TJ and the team will be paying themselves for salaries? I know a selling point for the Iowa Ride is that all proceeds will go to charity, but I can’t imagine they are working for free. Did this transition constitute a “raise” from their Gannett salaries? Also, did it leave a sour taste in anyone else’s mouth that TJ sent out his email announcing his team’s departure, airing his grievances with the Register, and hinting that they would be organizing a competing ride using the official DM Register Ragbrai email address and entire rider registration list? I may be old school, but I would never consider doing such a thing. I would turn in my keys, and get word out through other means, not send out such a message on my employer’s system.


Sunflower, October 17, 2019 at 12:00 am

I would consider the effect on communities of having to put on two rides each year. It would create some “fatigue” if uncoordinated between the rides. As it is the ride isn’t loved by all Iowans, believe it or not, and halving the time between rides is going to create some extra pushback at the margin. How much would be a WAG.

One outcome I can see is that one ride would be much more geared towards baggers and the other toward charters and well-outfitted teams.


Sunflower, October 17, 2019 at 12:06 am

Naw, no bad taste at all. Its hard to taste anything, still peeling that SJW slime off my skin.

People suck, find the ones that suck the least and drink with them.


Tony, October 17, 2019 at 12:57 am

Wow! I was charter service coordinator for 10 years. I was shocked to hear TJ and staff resigned. I’ve worked in broadcast media since 1984. So I know how media companies control their staff. I have to give TJ and staff a big thumbs up to standing up to Gannet. I’m sure there is more to this than the King issue. Its about control. I wish TJ and staff all the best. Gannet will be hard pressed to save the 2020 ride. The coordination is a nightmare. It takes special people with contacts to pull off an event of this size. I feel for all the charter services too. This has to be a nightmare for them. The decision to switch rides is not going to be an easy one. Due to logistics and service contracts. I pray that all coordinators find the guidance to make quality decisions for their riders. Personally I would have to choose TJ and his staff. He and his crew are second to none. Iowa towns will have some rough decisions in the months to come.


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