2020 RAGBRAI

RAGBRAI friends, we’re here to answer your questions

Greetings, RAGBRAI friends,

As you’ve probably heard, we’ve had a bit of change here. TJ and the rest of the RAGBRAI staff decided to resign  – and yes, we were surprised. The good news is that The Register is still committed to hosting RAGBRAI in 2020. The ride will go on.

You understandably have some questions. As you can imagine, we here at the Register don’t have all the answers yet. As with any transition, we’ve got a few things to work through. RAGBRAI and the Register have been through leadership changes before and we’ll get there. We want to assure you that the staff at the Register is working quickly and hard to address your questions and make plans for the ride.

There’s no group of people more committed to RAGBRAI than those of us here at the Register. A number of us have spent years planning for and sweating through participation in the oldest, largest and longest recreational bicycle touring event in the world. And many Register staffers have managed to sneak away from the busiest week in the office to ride a few days or even the whole week ourselves.

As you know, RAGBRAI was founded in 1973 by two Des Moines Register columnists, Donald Kaul and John Karras. RAGBRAI is at the very heart of the Register in the same way it’s in the hearts of all of you.

Thank you for your patience as we work through this transition. We’re grateful for that and for you. We’ll be posting updates to RAGBRAI.com often and will continue to update you via this newsletter too.

The forums are back up. Also, look for a Q&A once we know more about our plans for 2020 and beyond. In the meantime, if you have questions, please email me, Anne Lawrie, RAGBRAI marketing manager, at alawrie@dmreg.com. We’ll do our best to answer them.

I was born and raised in Des Moines. I graduated from Hoover High School and attended the University of Iowa. I’ve seen firsthand the impact that RAGBRAI has had on communities across Iowa and look forward to a great RAGBRAI 2020.

Anne Lawrie

RAGBRAI senior marketing manager
515-284-8388

32 Comments

just randy, Oct 16, 2019 at 1:44 pm

So . . . . . where are you hiding the forums that are “back up” ?

just randy, Oct 16, 2019 at 1:48 pm

Oops . . . . . see it now at the far right of the menu

Michael Nosbisch, Oct 16, 2019 at 6:04 pm

Appreciate the communication, keep it up I look forward to being on next years ride and plenty more in the future.

Michael Parrott, Oct 16, 2019 at 6:19 pm

After 19 Ragbrai’s, I guess last summer will be my last. Goodbye Ragbrai, hello Iowa’s Ride.

James Wilson, Oct 16, 2019 at 9:31 pm

I am glad I can ride across Iowa and my biker fees are either going for the ride with any left over going to the Children’s Hospital. The DMR supported something great and was a good steward for a long time, but, the separation of the ride from a corporate news company is a good thing. That is evident in this latest “editorial mishap” which will happen again. I hope the DMR will do the right thing for Iowa and Iowa’s Ride – just recognize the truth in this and move on.

Brian Miller, Oct 16, 2019 at 9:38 pm

When did the Des Moines Register turn into a publication with the goal of maligning and hurting good people (i.e. Carson King) trying to do good things?

kingkenny, Oct 16, 2019 at 9:46 pm

I finished my 27th Ragbrai this year 2019 with the goal of my 30th as possibly my last as I am 72 years old. You put the end to that goal as I will be a Iowa’s Ride Virgin in 2020 with many of the friends I have made over the 27 years I have ridden across your Beautiful State. This is your mistake and you did not own it. So you will suffer from your bad choices. You should just give it up.

StevenLawyer, Oct 16, 2019 at 11:09 pm

Carson King himself said the Register and its reporter had been very kind to him. I think the Register had a difficult question in front of it.

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.

Miss Curmudgeonly, Oct 17, 2019 at 3:06 am

StevenlLawyer – Yes, it certainly did seem petty to me, esp. using the Ragbrai mailing list to announce he was picking up his toys and going home. TJ isn’t Ragbrai, and he had no right to do that.

People on FB talk about Ragbrai being a “cash cow,” but quite frankly, I’ve always viewed the ride as a huge hassle in a lot of ways, tough to coordinate and pull off, and we were all lucky the DMR was still taking it on, especially these days with all the potential liability. For ONE PERSON to try to ruin a 48-year-old tradition, well, that’s beyond churlish.

Kevin Remillard, Oct 17, 2019 at 6:43 am

TJ’s team actions could be characterized as “reasonable people can look at the same set of facts and disagree on what merits publication. But rest assured such decisions are not made lightly and are rooted in what we perceive as the public good” when the Register’s editor Carol Hunter directed him “You may be asked about our reporting practices and our decision to publish this information. I encourage you to refer readers to my statement.”

“I was told I had to run everything through a New York PR Firm that was brought in to help manage the exploding crisis. For the first time in 16 years, the RAGBRAI director and staff was no longer calling the shots. Senior leadership and a PR team would approve public statement.”

RAGBRAI is an Iowa event organized during the Cowles era of ownership. The Hunter/Gannett publishing directives are your own business, but keep them out of RAGBRAI. We, the riders, run the show here and if we want to talk about Carson King with comments from the now past RAGBRAI team it’s not your call.

Lift your ban on comments, hire the team back, and we may return to Iowa normal.

mootsman, Oct 17, 2019 at 11:06 am

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. Someone 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 was a good idea. That would not have happened, not in Iowa. Maybe on the east coast. Now, LET’S RIDE!

Kevin Ross, Oct 17, 2019 at 1:37 pm

A Modest Radical Suggestion.

RAGRBAI is the oldest, largest, longest, and most beloved organized cycling tour in the world. We have reached a crises that may diminish it, destroy it, or replace it with unknown results. But perhaps the current crisis instead provides the opportunity to improve it.

So here’s a brainstorming suggestion that might avoid the likely chaos and certain conflict that will result from separate, competing rides (one of which would have to be organized by an inexperienced team).

Make the deep sacrifices to reconcile the current crisis (and also establish a better ongoing organization) by creating a new, nonprofit organization to own and control RAGBRAI under a new board of directors. The Register would voluntarily relinquish ownership of the ride and the intellectual property in the “RAGBRAI” name and merchandising. But in keeping with tradition and honor the Register’s years of facilitating the ride, the ride would continue to be called RAGBRAI and the Register would perpetually have at least one designated seat on the new board. On his part, Juskiewicz would surrender his threat to use the nuclear option and would also have to entrust his future relationship with the ride into the hands of an undetermined board, trusting that the board will act in good faith for the good of the event and respect his years of exceptional service.

The nonprofit board in the first year would consist of an equal number of members appointed by the Register and members appointed by Juskiewicz, with one additional member—the chairperson—to then chosen by the board itself from outside. The Juskiewicz team would serve as the organizer of the 2020 ride, compensated comparable to their arrangement with the Register.

Going forward, the board would consist of some number of members serving staggered, 3-year terms. The RAGBRAI riders from the previous year would choose the individuals to serve as board members replacing the outgoing members who are terming out and to fill any other vacancies, each rider having one vote in an annual online election. The Register would always have one designated board member, each serving a 3-year term.

The new board after the first election would determine the qualifications of board members and the role of and the relationship between the organizer and the board.
Consider whether this proposal, or some variation of it, is in the best long-term interests of the event wholly apart from the recent conflict that led to the current Juskiewicz-Register separation. I think that following a course like this will have lasting benefits and avert a RAGBRAI Civil War, including the following:

– RAGBRAI survives, improved, and remains the singular, spectacular gem of the cycling world;
– Those loyal to Juskiewicz but annoyed at the Register would remain committed to the ride rather than desert it for a different one;
– Those loyal to Register but annoyed at Juskiewicz would continue to enjoy the benefit of Juskiewicz-organized rides;
– No one would be forced to choose between one ride or the other and all riders would continue to enjoy participating in the single biggest and best cycling event in the world;
– Iowa towns who host the ride and the riders will continue to appreciate the full magnitude of a single event;
– The Register and Juskiewicz prove their true commitment to the ride and to the people (riders and towns) who depend on it;
– Iowans demonstrate maturity in conflict resolution in a fashion that continues to distinguish the state and its people in terms of practicality and virtue;
– All riders would have (and feel) a greater and more personal grass-roots sense of ownership in the event and, as a consequence, its causes; and
– The ride will continue to honor and retain its deep tradition as RAGBRAI.

Those are my two cents as an Iowa native (now a Minnesotan) and finally a very happy RAGBRAI rider (2019) who wants a reason to keep coming back.

Flatlander, Oct 17, 2019 at 3:33 pm

Very well written and thought out Kevin Ross. ^^^^^

It’s going to be interesting to see how this all plays out….

Bill Carter, Oct 17, 2019 at 3:36 pm

My take is that we the riders “own” RAGBRAI. This was my 33rd or 34th year – after awhile you forget if you missed 2 or was it 3? Anyway I figure I have a lot invested in this event. As an owner I need to see whom to hire to run the ride this year. Either way I don’t figure it’ll ever be as fun as it was back in the 80’s. As a guy in my 60’s I think that in recent years RAGBRAI caters too much to an older crowd. I’ll probably choose to hire whomever promises a wilder more untamed event.

Jimhand8, Oct 17, 2019 at 9:37 pm

I agree. Ragbrai is about coming together not division. There needs to be a resolution to keep the tradition. We are adults and people who love what this ride has been for 47 years. Let’s apologize admit wrong doings and actions on both sides do the right thing and come back together. This division of vendors and riders is ridiculous. No one will win. Show our leaders in Washington how people can disagree but we can still do the right thing. Long live Ragbrai. Mr Pork Chop, Tender Tom, Beekmans, Iowa Craft Beer, Chris Cakes, Farm Boyz, long naps under some random tree, slip n slides, Church Pies, Hot cinnamon rolls out of a local farmhouse oven and the list goes on.

pfiedler, Oct 18, 2019 at 8:48 am

I don’t see how the Register could ever trust Juskiewicz and his co-conspirators again.

Joseph Schlau, Oct 18, 2019 at 9:59 pm

Steven,

In the on air interview TJ gave to KXNO radio the morning after his departure, he stated the Iowa’s Ride was a registered charitable organization. If so, all salaries and expenses would be subject to disclosure. When asked about interim funding and sponsorship, TJ spoke in general and provided no real detail.

What I find interesting is his site is already accepting registrations for $150 per adult with only a 75% refund before May 1st. This before he has even had a meeting with Iowa DOT or Iowa State Patrol to see if they would provide resources during the same week as Ragbrai.

Those who register early would see their money supporting the early planning and possible legal expenses but if either agency says no, and he cannot hold a ride, they may just lose their money.

With no route, no towns, no sponsors, no confirmed public safety/EMT commitments to show, along with the possibility of litigation , it will take a leap of faith to buy into this ride at this time.

Donald Whitt, Oct 19, 2019 at 10:01 am

The pettiness of the move to “take our bikes and go” and create a competing event is incredibly disappointing and antithetical to the meaning of RAGBRAI. It’s about people coming together, not the divisiveness so common these days. To “TJ” and the rest: Grow the heck up!

Enrique De leon, Oct 19, 2019 at 4:09 pm

Can’t we all get along? I just want to ride !

Kevin Ross, Oct 21, 2019 at 9:46 am

From a distance, it appears that the Register inappropriately attempted to gag TJ’s opportunity to respond to the Register’s controversial handling of the Carson King tweeting episode, and that TJ inappropriately overreacted by breaking with the Register to create a competing ride. If both sides can see the chaos and harm a competing ride will potentially create and acknowledge that they could have handled things better, I bet a reasonable and skilled arbitrator could help them arrive at a conclusion that mends fences, rejoins the organizers to RAGBRAI, and establishes guidelines or rules for an improved relationship. This would also not only restore confidence in the overall organization but also would enhance it. But I bet that if something like this does not happen, RAGBRAI will loses some of its faithful followers, TJ will lose some of his faithful followers, and one or both of the competing rides will be a severely diminished version of the original, if not a total disaster. The stakes are high. Who will be responsible and make the first move?

Joseph Schlau, Oct 21, 2019 at 5:06 pm

There can be no reconciliation between parties on this one. This has gone too far. TJ not only left, he did so in a most public manner coldly calculated to maximize the harm to RAGBRAI. It has forced riders, clubs, vendors, towns, charters and government agencies to pick sides.

TJ showed everyone what he is capable of doing to his former employer when things don’t go as he wished. He put on a good front right up to the end. He is now putting up another good front with his self centered TJ Ride he calls Iowa’s Ride for charity. Iowa does not need another ride at the same time, it needs a mature director able to guide RAGBRAI through a difficult time and years to come.

TJ was around during the time that Lance Armstrong and his Livestrong folks were trying to co-opt RAGBRAI and turn it into the cult of Armstrong. In the case of Armstrong, looking at what he did spoke volumes on his character much clearer than what he said.

Maybe It is time to start taking a hard look at what TJ has actually done to his former employer and how this effects the riders and vendors rather than his carefully crafted press statements and ask yourself, do I want to buy into the cult of TJ.

RAGBRAI is refusing to be bullied and will find that qualified director to move on. The organization rather than a single personality will get the job done.

Chris Ashton, Oct 22, 2019 at 10:21 am

Had a great ride last year and am looking forward to riding again.

Once the excitement behind the newest, greatest, hottest, most exciting thing dies away, people are going to realize that that RAGBRAI is a lot bigger than five egos and some controversy.

Were this ride about charity, Iowa, Iowans, and principle, it would be on a different week such that the state could be blessed by two great events and we wouldn’t have to choose between one or the other. Certainly that would in the final analysis raise more. But this is about ego isn’t it.

Paul Schupanitz, Oct 22, 2019 at 1:11 pm

Quondam RAGBRAI. Semper RAGBRAI.

Slowpoke Rodriguez, Oct 23, 2019 at 2:14 pm

Two questions:

1. How does one start a new thread in the Forum? I logged on, but I don’t see a “Post New Thread” or anything like that on the first page of the Forum, top or bottom.

2. Bubba’s Pampered Pedalers is supporting Iowa’s Ride. Their reasoning does not provide many facts about the issue. Can anyone recommend other experienced charter services for RAGBRAI?

Paige Palombo, Oct 25, 2019 at 10:53 am

Cry Baby TJ ( whoever he is ) just made yet another “Us vs. Them” split in our country. As if we didn’t have enough of that these days. He needs to grow up. I’m disgusted. But RAGBRAI is what I love – and RAGBRAI is what I’ll ride. His intent on doing his personal ride the same week is obviously petty and with intent to destroy. I will probably be signing up for Ragbrai in 2020, but my enthusiasm has kind of been destroyed by all of this crap. And I definitely won’t go on that other ride.

David Cover, Oct 25, 2019 at 8:48 pm

This isn’t over yet. Stay tuned. This will get ugly in court, and TJ doesn’t have a chance. Nice try, but you were stupid in the manner in which you tried to bring down RAGBRAI. Your staff will also be included in the lawsuit as well.

Matthew Robinson, Oct 26, 2019 at 10:09 am

Won’t be supporting a media source that chose to expose petty nonsense for a story to sell more papers instead of choosing to lift Mr. King up and help him raise more money. If I were TJ and the register forced my hand and didn’t allow me to speak and respond I too would have done the same thing. For those of you who don’t see how poorly the register handled the Carson king situation then used $50,000 of RAGBRAI $ to look good, have fun on a ride that the register helped build but also has been a big part of why the ride has also become far less fun(damental) than in the past.

Steven Carlson, Oct 26, 2019 at 4:19 pm

The both parties should be ashamed. This was suppose to be about riders having fun in the great state of Iowa. Instead it is an embarrassing fiasco. The DR screwed up, we get it. Carson King was great, we also get it. But, I believe TJ, who was embroiled in a typical workplace rub, could have handled this way more maturely and in not such a vindictive manner. Don’t let his righteous “non-profit” approach get to you. He will pay himself handsomely, likely more than prior, and the vendors lining up with him are not committing to “no profits” either. Sounds good, I but certainly am not going to get all wrapped up in those claims. I think he is gravely mistaken to believe he can rob this state from a tradition. Only one ride can survive, Iowa is not that special and there are only so many towns to ride through….they could overdose and bail totally. I will continue to support the tradition. Iowa’s Ride will get a couple thousand riders in 2020 who will return to RAGBRAI in 2021.

Jose, Oct 27, 2019 at 8:46 pm

Ragbrai is here to stay. I have been in 30 Ragbrai’s. I have earned a voice in this. I also met my wife on Ragbrai. We have been together 20 years. I feel the other ride will be unsafe. There will be a lot less riders and a lot more auto and truck traffic on the road. The public will not take the other ride seriously and use the roads. I predict a lot of accidents. When Ragbrai route is announced , the public is generous to avoid that route. Bless them , and thank you ! TJ is responsible for all accidents on His ride. I look forward to many more safe Ragbrai’s.

Cory Hedin, Oct 29, 2019 at 1:59 pm

As an outsider from Minnesota following this story, I’m struggling with why anyone would defect for the Iowa’s Ride? Based on what I have read and listened to, I am a firm believer that it doesn’t have a chance to be as safe or well supported as RAGBRAI. It sounds like the makings for a wet, hot mess. PBV has already committed to RAGBRAI. They are the backbone for transportation outside of the RAGBRAI trucks. Bubba’s…who is that, besides one of TJ’s closest friends? The leftover proceeds going to a charitable cause is pretty laughable, because as someone who has been part of cycling rides and races for a long time, I can tell you that most of them break even or even lose money (unless you are Lifetime Fitness, which is ridiculous for fees)..and my understanding is there will be similar or identical pay for the staff on Iowa’s Ride, and I see expenses being much higher for a start up ride. RAGBRAI isn’t MS150 or Tour de Cure. If you want to ride for charity, go to one of those worthy causes. The whole concept of having the same dates, locations, and overall concept of the ride itself shows this act is completely out of spite; the notion of this similarity due to vacation dates is the biggest crock, and I can’t believe anyone is falling for it. TJs entity for the ride was set up over a year ago…so how is this related to the Carson King issue? The issue was a scapegoat for a premeditated exit strategy planned well in advance. Say what you will about DM Register, but TJ is not operating above board at all. Wake up fellow riders, you’re being sold a false bill of goods. Hope to see you on RAGBRAI in 2020!

Tom Dennis, Oct 30, 2019 at 7:34 pm

Joseph Schlau and Cory Hedin made some good comments. The Register obviously didn’t cover itself with glory regarding an issue that they’ve already taking pains to walk back on, but it was very, very obvious that TJ had plans in place well before that little tempest in a tea cup. If people want an alternative multi-day ride, that’s fine, although there are already alternates in other states and have been for some time. None of them is RAGBRAI, and anyone thinking that starting a rival ride the same week is at all practical is living in a fool’s paradise.

Francisco Mira Cervera, Nov 11, 2019 at 11:03 am

When will you put on sale a jersey for recumbent riders with pockets in the front? We are many reclining riders who participate and none of us suits a sweater with pockets to the sword, since all of it is resting on the seat.

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