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There is a difference between fear mongering and predicting. Both are going on here and around the world but not everyone who predicts a RAGBRAI cancellation or postponement is fear mongering. As I have said I think the chances of a shutdown are around 50-50 at this point. But I also think the best evidence so far is that the death rate for this virus is lower than is widely reported. The virus may be more contagious than the common reports however and that leads to legitimate concerns about the capacity of our healthcare system since the disease can be quite severe among those who do survive and our hospital system is not designed to handle the potential case load especially when it is added to all the other reasons that people seek hospital care in any given time period. When this is over we should have a serious discussion about our hospital capacity. Modern transportation makes the spread of new diseases very easy and we can expect to have more, not fewer pandemics in the future. On the whole I don’t think there is as much to fear from this virus as people commonly seem to be doing but of course the fact that so many people are living in fear of it does add to the cancellation odds.
I view the mere act of speculating on the odds of a RAGBRAI cancellation as the equivalent of trying to guess the route every year. It is just a parlor game we all play to amuse ourselves. And a lot of us are sitting at home right now and are in need of amusement!
From what I read if the Chinese government can be trusted (and we all know that it cannot be trusted 100%) then it will take about three months for the types of control efforts that the US is still in the ramp up stage of deployment on to stem the tide of the pandemic. But when did we really start? Here in Illinois we did not get serious about it until a week ago and when I last checked a few days ago Iowa and many other states are still doing little in regards to lockdowns, shelter in place orders, or whatever you prefer to call them. Based on that timetable it will be mid June at the earliest before we could sensibly declare this thing over. The critical thing for RAGBRAI is that there be enough evidence that we have turned the tide to give all the localities and the state of Iowa confidence that the event will be safe to host by the latest decision date, June 1. I would assume that RAGBRAI is confident that they can still pull the event off successfully with a commit date as late as June 1.
Personally I think that if all the states were in the process if implementing lockdowns right now we would be confident enough by June 1 to issue a commit to launch. As it is, I think the odds are about 50-50.
We don’t really know the death rate from this virus. As one commentator put it we know the numerator, the number who died, but the testing rate in every country is too low for us to establish the denominator because so many get the disease and show no symptoms or mild symptoms that could be something else entirely and so are unlikely to be tested. Even so people will die from this so we have to make the terrible choice between killing our economy (which will also kill people in poor parts of the world) with strict lockdown orders or killing people by allowing the virus to propagate unconstrained.
At the same time since there are so many people who get the virus and do not know it the rate of infection is likely to be higher to much higher than currently reported. This threatens to overwhelm our healthcare system since a lot of people could require treatment in a hospital to recover. We are at risk of losing people who could have been saved if we let the virus run free. Italy seems to be in that state so the lockdown decision may be an awful one but it is hard to argue against it. China may be in same state as Italy. Lots of happy news coming out of the People’s Republic but there is a very real possibility that the state controlled media is just lying. If lockdown orders are issued in your state or locality, please comply with them. It is very important that we do.
It is too early to make the call on RAGBRAI and it is too easy to let events and decisions made the last two weeks cloud your predictions but it is certainly plausible that RAGBRAI will be canceled. A few weeks ago I thought that was wildly alarmist but now I think the odds are in the 50-50 region. There is still reason for hope but if this thing is not on the way down by the end of April I think it is likely that RAGBRAI will have to be canceled.
I believe that two vaccine companies say they have one ready for testing. It is the government testing that takes 18 months. The Europeans have been aggressively testing antivirals and other drugs that might be of use and from what I hear they are having very good results from an anti malaria drug that is cheap and plentiful. They are already tested and approved for sale. There is hope on the horizon.
On another topic I remember two centerline cracks last year that were easily wide enough to swallow my 55mm tires and send me to the pavement and the hospital. Wider tires are better but you still need to be careful out there!
I live in NE Illinois in the Chicago metro area. We are warmer than usual this year but no warmer than northern Iows.
Sorry for the psychic pain so many of you are having to endure. My modern, enlightened employer is taking extremely sacrificial measures to enable us to survive this time of fear, uncertainty, and a total lack of anything to do.
He is letting us work from home!
Yes, I have read recently that warmer temperatures and higher humidity levels do in fact kill the seasonal flu virus which helps to stop its transmission through the warmer months. I’ve also read that the corona viruses are not affected as much by warmer weather. And I have also read that maybe it is. There’s a lot we don’t know right now.
Illinois is basically going into lockdown as of today. Not completely, there are still plenty of things that could be canceled but bar/restaurants/schools are all closed. You can get delivery or curbside service at many restaurants (but not bars for some reason 😉 !). Churches can be open, not sure the US constitution allows the government to close them actually, but most in the Chicago area are complying with the shutdown orders for other large gatherings. My employer unexpectedly ordered us to work from home as much as possible yesterday afternoon. I was literally having a conversation with a colleague who was very worried about the virus and who was upset with the company for not telling us to work from home when a voice from a nearby cubicle who was eavesdropping on our conversation chimed in “hey, you got your wish, look at what just popped up in your inbox!” I guess the president said this could go on until July or August in his address yesterday. I just checked on Iowa’s response and it appears that other than school closings they have not responded with general shutdown orders. Yet.
I’m still expecting that this will be on its way out by late July. But it seems like the RAGBRAI decision date will be around June 1, based solely on the fact that they have extended the registration deadline to that date. I suppose that in order to go ahead the RAGBRAI team will at least have to see the light at the end of the tunnel by then and at the moment it is uncertain that we will be in that condition at that time.
If it goes ahead then those of us who are older definitely will have to look out for ourselves. RAGBRAI and vendors will do what they can but other riders will short circuit any efforts they make, unless there is a fundamental change in human nature between now and then! Bring hand sanitizer (hopefully you will be able to buy it again by then) and use it frequently. It is not clear that age alone adds much to the risk the virus presents but it is clear that age plus underlying health issues makes it much more deadly. I am only old, I am expecting to attend if the event goes forward. If you are both old and have health issues you might want to give this one a pass unless the outbreak is well contained at least a month before the wheels start rolling.
No, I am not using the stock tires. I feel like they have excess rolling resistance which is to be expected since they are low to mid grade Bontrager knobbys. Bontrager makes some much nicer tires, I’m not dissing them, but of course when you buy a new bike you’d rather have your money going into the other gear on the bike which you will use for a long time than into tires which you will change soon enough anyway.
I looked around at tires and road “slicks” with efficient high thread count carcasses are a bit rare in mountain and 29er sizes. They are a bit rare in smaller sizes too for that matter but not as rare. There are some out there but my last name happens to be Hutchinson and since there is a bike tire company by that name I gave into the temptation to buy a set of their tires in order to have my name splashed on the side of my tires! I decided to try their Skeleton cross country racing tires which are low knobs with a nearly continuous stripe down the center for efficient running on very hard surfaces. There are probably some true slicks out there that would be better but I am happy with these. I also went tubeless so I have shed the rolling resistance of inner tubes.
Bike tire companies are odd. They all seem to make a great many models that seem to have little to differentiate between them and they rarely if ever give you any information that would help you understand what the differences mean to you. A great many of them seem to be inefficient anyway with very low thread count carcasses so I ignore most of them. And tire companies are only beginning to understand that there is a market for wide, hard surface, touring tires. Hopefully they will catch on soon but there are some out there for us pioneers to use.
Of course if you do a lot of riding in urban or other areas where punctures are a huge problem some of those inefficient tires are very puncture resistant so you can’t be too quick to dismiss them. I run Schwalbe Marathon Supremes on my folding bike that I use for bike/train commuting to work. They are inefficient but nearly bulletproof and the latter outweighs the former when punctures are a big problem. I’ve had very little issues with punctures at RAGBRAI and on my weekend “normal bike” riding so I go for efficient tires there.
Ok, enough of my tire philosophizing for one day!
They do not say this, perhaps because the Iowa authorities could force them to cancel at any time I suppose, but I presume that June 1 is roughly the date RAGBRAI has chosen for their go/no-go decision. Seems sensible to me. I think this will be on its way out by then and RAGBRAI will go forward as planned. If not, well, my new bike is pannier capable but am I????
Still expecting to see you all in July!
So, my new bike is a Trek 920 which came complete with racks. If RAGBRAI is canceled in theory I could bag it. We’d all have to find some kind of cross state transportation but it is doable, maybe some charter would provide a bus if there is enough interest. It could end up being like the first RAGBRAI if only about 300 show up. I’ll keep an open mind about that but I expect the virus to be on the decline by the time RAGBRAI has to make a decision.
I suppose that most of you have noticed by now but RAGBRAI is extending the registration deadline to June 1. They do not say this, perhaps because the state could force them to cancel at any time I suppose, but I presume that June 1 is roughly the date they have chosen for their go/no go decision. Seems sensible to me.
So many people are being reported to have the virus now in so many walks of life that it is not clear that closing events will help much. The time for that may have come and gone already but if it helps to dampen the hysteria then I suppose it is worthwhile. We do need to protect those who are vulnerable and that appears to be mostly the “elderly”. I am in the age group where the reported death rate starts to rise steeply but other factors besides age play into that and it is not clear to me how high my personal risk is. The thing that gives me pause is the fact that my eighty-something mother in law lives with us. She’d be safer in a home right now because around here they are all on lockdown but we can’t get her into a home right now — they are all on lockdown!
Here’s a data based view of the pandemic.
The NEED to cancel RAGBRAI or any other event, really, appears to minimal. The PERCEIVED need to cancel is what really drives cancellations, however, and that is driven by mass hysteria, not the real risk. So it is much more difficult to predict what will happen than it is to predict what should happen.
RAGBRAI’s ability to refund will be determined by when the decision to cancel is made. They can do the generous thing and accept some financial loss if they so choose but they are already expending money and I would think that after a point they would have to offer a partial refund instead of a full refund. As a RAGBRAI customer I would be willing to accept that because it would be an investment in the future of RAGBRAI and I find that a worthy investment to make, whether for my sake or for the sake of those who follow after.
I guess that what you could legitimately call a panic is continuing to build. The stock market did recover briefly and then has tanked again and again and…. There’s talk of canceling the Giro which does seem likely and appropriate at this point but the infection could peak and decline in Italy before that decision has to be made. There’s concern about the Tour as well. US employers, mine at least, are imposing travel restrictions and facility visit protocols. Businesses and trade groups are canceling shows and seminars. The reported death rate is about 3% now but I also think it is likely that deaths are being accurately counted but those who are sick and recover on their own are not necessarily being counted so the true rate is likely to be lower. If you are both elderly (I guess I qualify!) and have other health issues (I don’t) you should be very, very careful.
At the moment it would seem that a RAGBRAI cancellation is more conceivable now than the last time I spoke but still not a certainty. There is still plenty of time for the infection to peak and fade. Do take the commonsense precautions that are being published. Even if you are not in a vulnerable group and most of you are not, by being careful you can prevent someone who is vulnerable from being infected.
Hope to see you all in a small town in Iowa in July!
Comfort beats speed for me, I don’t even own a road bike. If your road bike is even a little uncomfortable at the end of a century, how bad will it be at the end of 7 days, or more importantly I suppose, the morning of the 4th day? That is the question only you can answer. Aerodynamics will not kill you unless you ride quite fast or have the pleasure of riding into a headwind. If your hybrid has a decent aero position available (both my old and new bikes did/do) then you are set for headwinds. Hybrids typically can run wider tires than road bikes and my 8 years of riding Iowa’s roads (which are pretty much like everyone else’s roads) convince me that wider tires are better. I’ve never run less than 38’s and I currently run 55’s. I am still cautious about road cracks and the like but if I should miss one or two they are unlikely to ruin my week because the tires I ride give me much more margin for error. I’m currently riding a Trek 920, its a great bike for any ride unless you are racing.
My previous bike was a road biased Fuji hybrid. I think it had a very similar geometry to their entry/mid level road bikes but it used flat bars and it had much more tire clearance than most road bikes. After trying some others I put a Jones Loop H Bar on it and that makes an excellent long distance handlebar with a good wind cheating position.
Whatever bike you ride, if you find you are uncomfortable on it for long distance rides you should have a good bike shop do a fit for you. That might make a huge difference in how you feel and at RAGBRAI you are not doing a long ride, you are doing seven in a row. Comfort is very important!
In my experience YMCA and school showers tend to be excellent. Ditto for college showers. Showers in aquatic centers can be good but they are the ones most likely to be lacking in anything remotely like warm water. The pig barn shower in Fairfield has been excellent, both times I have used it. The horse barn shower somewhere in 2018, not so much. School showers sometimes have excellent organization, sometimes they have none. One time in 2018 I steered my team to a school shower instead of a shower trailer and my, oh my, what a zoo that was! There was one young man who must have been home schooled because he clearly had never been in a locker room situation before and was quite self conscious of being naked in the presence of his peers. Shower truck showers are generally good but the coldest shower I ever had at RAGBRAI was at one where the heater had failed and sometimes they are operated by new owners who, well, still need a clue or two. It’s RAGBRAI, not everything is perfect but everything is bearable or at least will make a GREAT story in a year or two when the pain wears off!
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