2020 RAGBRAI

RAGBRAI XLVIII update to COVID-19

RAGBRAI Nation,

As we’ve stated previously, we are closely monitoring the situation as it pertains to COVID-19.  We want to thank you for your continued support and words of encouragement.

As the situation unfolds daily, we continue to have conversations with our towns & communities, riders, business partners, vendors, and leadership team to determine the best course of action for everyone in 2020.

In addition to the conversations, we are monitoring the discussions on our forums, blog posts, and social platforms and want you to know we understand your concerns and appreciate your support.

RAGBRAI takes months of planning and preparation to execute a safe and successful ride. Our plan is to make a decision that is in the best interest of our riders, towns & communities, business partners, vendors, and residents of Iowa by Monday, April 20, 2020.

Be well,

RAGBRAI Team

53 Comments

Sully, Apr 13, 2020 at 4:57 pm

Now more than ever, we need this.

CycloneTS, Apr 13, 2020 at 8:12 pm

The responsible choice is hard but correct, cancel this year’s ride. Both domestic & international riders going through Iowa communities and interacting with vendors, spectators, establishments, farms and homes & then returning to our homes around the world in just 3 months time is not possible this year.

Chris Ashton, Apr 13, 2020 at 9:44 pm

I would really love to see this ride continue in 2020. I do however feel that a decision right now is premature; nothing is opening back up yet and we have so little data about what the future will bring once we start to relax the social distancing.

Given that much of the country is still at home through May, the soonest we will start to have information will be June.

Good luck making a very hard decision!

smithjosepha, Apr 14, 2020 at 6:47 am

2020 will be my 16th consecutive RAGBRAI. It’s always amazing to see and experience how every ride unfolds, no two rides are alike. Unfortunately we take for granted the tremendous amount of planning required to pull this off year after year. We can’t thank those involved in that process enough, they provide everyone with memories that truly last a lifetime. My advice for you as preparing for 2020’s ride is this, ” err on the side of caution “. By doing this memories of 2020 will work themselves out.

Nancy Larson, Apr 14, 2020 at 2:29 pm

Is there a way to make hand sanitizer readily available and require masks? Increased handwashing stations? I know it seems like a lofty goal at this point but I just looked at the pictures from last year and I am just heartbroken. But I understand. Nancy from Long Beach, CA

Collin Rivera, Apr 14, 2020 at 2:57 pm

This will be the first Ragbrai my wife, two friends, and I will do. We’ve been looking forward to this since last year. With everything going on, we’ve been holding onto the dream of doing Ragbrai this year. I really hope it will happen this year. End July is a good while away. Anything can happen between now and then.

Moya Peterson, Apr 14, 2020 at 3:23 pm

As much as I love riding in RAGBRAI- the responsible decision is to cancel. I do not want to expose small towns who may or may not have already had the virus in their midst nor do I want to be exposed any more than necessary to it. I hope that it will be on the decline by that time- but there is the rub- on the decline- not gone. I want to be around to ride next year as well as thousands of my favorite people. I want to always be welcomed in my home state and not be feared for what I might bring to it. If it is not canceled we will be withdrawing- it is not worth the risk.

Mark Greene, Apr 14, 2020 at 4:59 pm

Appreciate the difficult situation that the RAGBRAI team is in. As a loyal 5-time rider, I’d of course love to see the ride happen this year. But with 10,000+ registered riders (and countless more unregistered), RAGBRAI is the epitome of “congregation” and the antithesis of “social distancing”. COVID-19 will almost certainly still be a crisis in at least some countries in mid-July. Given its international attendee list, RAGBRAI would be irresponsible if it tries to proceed this year. Make the hard but correct choice: Pull the plug next Monday on RAGBRAI 2020, and look forward to a healthy successful 2021.

Mark Shupe, Apr 14, 2020 at 5:39 pm

Please do everything possible to pull this off as planned, or as close as possible if overnight towns need to be replaced. No one has to be there. Respect the personal liberty of those that choose to. Send a message to America and the world that we’re not sheep. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!

Syrjanen, Apr 14, 2020 at 6:37 pm

The most responsible decision is to cancel RAGBRAI- we all love the ride, Iowa, and reuniting with friends, however most importantly we MUST take care of ourselves and each other so that we CAN RIDE together in 2021. Respectfully, I will not ride.

Jay Daniel, Apr 14, 2020 at 6:40 pm

I am looking forward to riding my first RAGBRAI this year. I am 66 and from California. With all the bike events cancelled through May this will be a great new experience. I have to question all the people writing to say please cancel it, because gosh they dont have to come if they feel like they are in danger of being exposed. What do they expect to accomplish by writing? As it is, if RAGBRAI 2020 goes on I am sure many fewer riders will participate, and it will be unlike many of the more recent years.

Kenneth Beck II, Apr 14, 2020 at 7:03 pm

I hope we do the ride. If we do not I hope RAGBRAI gives us the option of still receiving our Jerseys we ordered. Also I would like the option of RAGBRAI just keeping my money and automatically register me for next years ride.

Michael Strief, Apr 14, 2020 at 8:25 pm

The number of new COVID cases is declining, and I’m praying we spend a week riding through our great state. Many people may choose not to participate, and this may be the right choice for some.

tom mcgaffey, Apr 14, 2020 at 10:26 pm

Anne,
If RAGBRAI is cancelled, what happens to the Jerseys, shorts, and other stuff that was ordered when people registered?
Has the order been placed, or will we get a refund?
Thanks

Gallagher, Apr 14, 2020 at 10:33 pm

Wow, I already think this whole coronavirus thing has been beat to death with over caution. The entire country shutting down is crazy enough. If we haven’t moved beyond this idea of cancelling things that are still 3 months in the future, when will we be ready?

zeitz, Apr 14, 2020 at 11:29 pm

This would have been my 19th ride with Team Flamingo. I am 66 years old and I will not ride this year. PLEASE recognize that In the U S alone, over 1/2 million cases have been confirmed and over 26,000 people are dead from this disease. This is not going to clear in 3 months. People will be here from across the continent and around the world. Imagine all of the planes and buses they will use to get here. Let’s be safe. Let’s take a year off and have a wonderful ride next year.
If you do get a chance to ride near your home, ride safely.
Z-Bird.
(Leigh Zeitz – Cedar Falls)

Geoff Butland, Apr 15, 2020 at 5:34 am

To those saying it’s a personal choice to ride or not I have to disagree. Its a public health issue not a personal liberty issue. With so few people having immunity to a highly contagious disease and the fact that you can infect people without showing any symptoms, the responsible decision is to limit physical exposure. Let’s wait for RAGBRAI leadership to look at the numbers, understand the risk, and make the call thats best for everyone. Believe it or not, it’s still just a bike ride and it will be back better than ever in 2021, even if 2020 ends up canceled. Stay healthy everyone!

Chris Miller, Apr 15, 2020 at 9:15 am

I have enormous faith in RAGBRAI leadership, especially given their partnership with Iowa communities and the business partners who make RAGBRAI possible. I will certainly trust in their decision….and look forward to making my pilgrimage from New England to Iowa whenever circumstances (and public health) allow.

John Osbolt, Apr 15, 2020 at 10:35 am

To Geoff Butland and all others. Very well stated, Geoff. . Our team has been riding Ragbrai for the past 15 years – I personally have done Ragbrai for 20…. Last week our team of 30 riders decided to cancel our participation this year for exactly the same reason that you stated so well…. Stay safe everyone.

Kevin Mahoney, Apr 15, 2020 at 10:37 am

As much as I really looked forward to the ride and my annual visit to the great state of Iowa I cannot believe the RAGBRAI organizers would be willing to risk the lives of Iowans and others. We know there will be no vacine and we know that other parts of the world, if not the US, will still be contending with the virus, so it’s not a questions of personal liberty, but a question of the fundamental rules of a civilized society: we don’t intentionally mame or kill our fellow citizens. I really wish there was a way to logically support the ride moving forward for 2020, but there is not. 🙁

Terri Mitchell, Apr 15, 2020 at 11:43 am

The responsible thing would be to cancel. There is no way to keep social distancing in this event and not enough people have been tested. Do the right thing. A bike ride is not worth the consequences.

Ralph Swartwood, Apr 15, 2020 at 8:17 pm

The RAGBRAI team has a very difficult decision to make in balancing concerns for public safety and to continue the ride that so many of us looking forward to it. I appreciate that it is easy to form an opinion when viewing the situation from just one perspective. However, when you’re at the top you are exposed to all the different view points. I trust that the correct decision will be made given all the available information and with the interests of all concerned considered.

todd overholser, Apr 15, 2020 at 8:34 pm

I think the ride should go on and everyone involved needs to do everything possible to minimize risk and exposure during the ride. Perhaps the ride can be moved back as far as possible into August before school starts to buy a little more time.

Also, the decision to ride is a personal choice. Riders and everyone associated with the ride would need to utilize social distancing, masks and gloves in close quarters, etc. No doubt there would still be risk. However, it should be up to the individual to take the risk- just like we take a risk every time we get on our bikes. We could get hit by a vehicle, fall, strike a pedestrian…the list goes on and on. However, I think this would be just another risk that each rider would need to think carefully on, exercise due diligence, and follow their conscience. I wouldn’t fault someone for choosing not to ride this year, but I think there are plenty of riders who would still choose to ride and we should be able to make our own choice.
Sadly though, the easy choice for the organizers is to cancel the ride. I don’t see a way out for the organizers to fade the heat that would surely come from a large percentage of the public, should the ride continue. Unfortunately, there will be too much outcry against the ride and most public figures and organizations aren’t willing to risk it. I don’t see the ride happening this year, but I hope I am wrong. Pray for better days ahead!

Eddie Doerr, Apr 15, 2020 at 9:58 pm

Why don’t we look at what Jesus would do? Sounds odd for a bicycle ride? I love Iowa and have participated in RAGBRAI over 20 times. This ride is the highlight of my year. So what would Jesus do?

In His temptation, Matthew 4: 5 Then the Adversary took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.

6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’Psalm 91:11,12”

7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”Deut. 6:16″

What would Jesus do? He cares about the individual’s well being. Jesus wouldn’t ride or hope God would save Him from this dastardly illness.

Fine folks like you are probably caring and careful and respectful. However, just go out where you live and watch folks. Are they being safe? Are they maintaining 6 feet of separation? We know it is actually 13 feet that a sneeze or a cough travels. Despite what you may hear the politicians say, most people are not being safe. This event has the potential to become much worse.

Are you really going to put all your hard work, health and future on the line for 7 or 8 days of a hard vacation? Do you breath deep on a bicycle ride? What if the person beside you or in front of you is sick? Breath it in, deep. (Did you know Iowa is flat? Ha!)

Then imagine, even signing the waiver, the folks who will sue RAGBRAI if they get sick. They won’t take personal responsibility will they? No. They will blame RAGBRAI. And what about all the town folks, the nice farmers along the way who share their front porch with you. Lots and lots of people. You get near Des Moines and the bicycle ride swells to 30,000 riders. What about all the support vehicles and staff. What about the Beauty Queens and cheerleaders? Why risk it? Iowa deserves better from us. Next year isn’t very far away. We pray for vaccines and cures right? Not going to happen by July.

I am not sure what Muhammad and Buddha would do. I think “no harm” is their thought as well.

Jerry Wendt, Apr 15, 2020 at 11:55 pm

Give yourselves a little more time. The government is looking at at least May 1st, so I’d say give yourself at least that much time, instead of deciding on April 20th. tks

joseph riel, Apr 16, 2020 at 7:36 am

Although my friend and I are very excited to participate in this ride (I last attended in 2008) it would be incredibly irresponsible for the RAGBRAI committee to arrive a decision that allows this event to take place. Every ride, charity or otherwise, that I have participated in during previous years have cancelled their events, if they are held prior to August. Even the TDF has pushed the race back a month… if that doesn’t scream what’s at stake here I don’t know what does 😉 Please, the safety and health of the riders and residents is so much more important than letting this ride proceed as planned.

We’ll be there in 2021 with bells on for sure!

Gallagher, Apr 16, 2020 at 1:02 pm

I think a lot of people are answering this question as if the ride will be next week, not just the DECISION to hold a ride to be held in 3 months. If there is talk of opening things up on May 1, is it not reasonable to assume things will be much better by late July? If you don’t feel safe riding or participating, then don’t. Seems simple to me. Also realize the extended (And perhaps exaggerated) lonngggggggg term doom and gloom of this is perhaps politically motivated by anti-Trumpers, but I digress.

TomAndrews3, Apr 16, 2020 at 3:26 pm

I’m glad to see that only one of 27 comments made it political. This is not a political issue. Sitting out here on the left coast and watching social distancing and stay-at-home practices actually working, and seeing what happens when the practices are not followed, e.g., Sioux Falls, South Dakota (right across the river from the route), and hearing that 15% of asymptomatic pregnant women coming in to the hospital to give birth test positive for COVID-19, it is clear that we are nowhere near the end of this crises, nor will we be clear of it the third week of July. The NCAA is already talking about how this is going to affect next year’s football season. Any further delay in making this decision is just going to involve more wasted effort by the tremendous number of people involved in organizing the RAGBRAI spectacle. The choice seems pretty clear to me — leverage the effort already expended in planning for this year’s RAGBRAI and reschedule for next year along the same route. All of us bikers lose out temporarily, and all the ride-through and overnight towns expecting the RAGBRAI windfall just have to wait one more year; and, they will be rewarded by MUCH larger crowds. My wife has already told me that she will not be getting on a plane in July.

ManleyJ111, Apr 16, 2020 at 4:35 pm

Just about all of us have seen our calendars warped and trips cancelled, but I think most of us are intelligent enough to realize that a July ride, even if possible, would deter most of us who are intelligent. Yes, I want to ride. Has the possibility of rescheduling to the end of September been considered, with a new decision point on the first of August? Yes, ridership would probably be down but it gives us something to look forward to, even if it is just another cancellation decision.

DanaPSC, Apr 16, 2020 at 6:27 pm

I was looking forward to doing my second RAGBRAI this year. My first was in 2011, and was every bit as much fun as other commenters here have shared. But I live in one of the hardest-hit areas of this virus, and even though I often am cavalier about such situations, this one scares the dickens out of me. Folks here in the metropolitan New York/New Jersey area are careful and conscientious, Things are locked down and many businesses are taking a huge hit. Even with all this, there is a frightening death toll and a shocking rate of infection.

I can’t imagine things being so secure in just a couple of months to allow 10,000 people from points near and far to gather safely in Iowa, where precautions have not been as great.

Naturally, people are within their rights to make choices regarding their own health. And every rider could make that choice for him or herself. But any rider who was exposed to the virus would bring that exposure back home, to people who didn’t make that choice. What are the odds that out of 10,000 people, at least a handful might be infected? Probably 100%.

What I think of most is the people in each and every town, small and large, along the RAGBRAI route. I think of every high five to an excited kid along the road. Every dollar passed to a Boy Scout or Little Leaguer for a welcome bottle of water. Every handshake with someone at a church supper. The contagion factor of the corona virus is high. Just a handful of riders with the virus – who might not even know they had it – could leave a trail 400 miles long of dangerous contacts. The effects of such contacts could be devastating in towns with just a few hundred residents.

I have great respect and gratitude for the people who have worked for a year to plan and coordinate this ride. This is an awful responsibility with great personal and financial consequences. But if even a small number of infections were to occur along the route, there could be dire effects on the RAGBRAI brand, not to mention lasting grief and guilt for people who love the event and would have to live knowing the consequence of the choice to let the ride go on.

todd overholser, Apr 16, 2020 at 9:47 pm

I love Manley’s idea about a late September ride- count me in. September in Iowa is as good as it gets.

Victoria brown, Apr 17, 2020 at 4:07 am

I am deeply grateful to the organizers the towns and the people of Iowa for RAGBRAI. I have loved the three I rode. I apologize for people that have resorted to name calling in the their posts. Please use your best judgement for all concerned. Thank you for the hard work you have done this far. I respect your decision and wish you well.

Joseph Schlau, Apr 17, 2020 at 6:22 am

DanaPCS

Well stated. Your perspective as a New Yorker is particularly relevant to the discussion.

Yesterday the Federal Coronavirus Task Force announced guidelines for a 3 Phase plan to get the nation back to work.

None of these phases has provisions allowing large unrestricted gatherings. All of the phases recommend persons with risk factors to continue to isolate themselves.

Even at the phase 3 level, Iowa could not hold an event like Ragbrai. The only hope for 2021 will be an effective vaccine that can put us past this. (That is of course, unless the virus returned in a significantly mutated form rendering all past immunity ineffective).

Ragbrai would be on safe legal and moral grounds by postponing the event until 2021. I am thinking they too will be announcing a postponement like so many other summer events.

This is the link to the new guidelines.

https://int.nyt.com/data/documenthelper/6890-guidelines-pdf/124d0959e9a00d2779b0/optimized/full.pdf#page=1

Charles Gerding, Apr 17, 2020 at 8:32 am

The team has confidence in leadership making the right decision. Only RAGBRAI knows the work that goes in to the ride overall and each towns preparation. Good luck. If it’s 2020, we are in. If it’s 2021, see you then.

Larry Robinson, Apr 17, 2020 at 10:06 pm

Let’s have a virtual RAGRAI via the internet.

Ricky Zohfeld, Apr 18, 2020 at 7:03 am

My son and I are registered to ride. 2nd time for us. We been conflicted as to what the right thing is to do. Heart says ride. Brain says not this year. Right now we’re leaning toward listening to listening to the brain.
Ricky Z. Mokena, Il.

armladies, Apr 18, 2020 at 7:27 am

All I got to say , is listen to the medical experts not the politicians…

Jose Medina, Apr 18, 2020 at 11:12 am

We have heroes within the Ragbrai family. Porkbelly Ventures donated the use of their trailers to help with the virus situation. God Bless them and thank you. We need to acknowledge their contribution in the newspaper. Thank you.

Steve Hexom, Apr 18, 2020 at 11:49 am

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that RAGBRAI will be postponed until July 2021. It is the rational, responsible and truly the only course of action that must be taken. Transportation, close quarters, small towns and host cities unable to do fund raising, concerts that can not happen, housing and host families afraid to have guests stay in their homes, social distancing impossible, shared port a potties, standing in long lines for food and everything else. All other events have been cancelled or postponed in our lives. Why should RAGBRAI be an exception? Let the cities and pass through towns selected for this year be able to plan for a time when hopefully this virus is gone.

Gregory Foran, Apr 18, 2020 at 4:40 pm

If for no other reason than to be fair to the people in the host towns of Iowa, I think you have to cancel. It’s not fair to the people who live there and extend such kindness to the riders. Please don’t put them in a position to have to say, “you’re not welcome here.”

Kellene Mullin, Apr 18, 2020 at 10:37 pm

I am begging you to cancel the ride. I know my 75+ yo parents will go if it’s held. I have been working in NYC as a paramedic during this time. You don’t understand how infectious this is and how devastating a 1% fatality rate is. I have seen so many dead and dying people who a week ago lead active healthy lifestyles. You will have asymptomatic riders who will spread this to the small towns and communities and you will have hundreds if not thousands of deaths that were totally preventable. Please, please do not hold RAGBRAI this year. I beg you.

Nancy Pierce, Apr 19, 2020 at 8:51 am

Postpone. I’d ride a cold RAGBRAI in October in a heartbeat. Hot soup food trucks.

Bruce Woodrow, Apr 19, 2020 at 2:07 pm

I sympathize with all of the people who would love to salvage a RAGBRAI in 2020. It would have been my 4th. But most of the comments in favour of going ahead are aspirational, not based on evidence. RAGBRAI needs to decide sooner rather than later (to avoid sinking more resources), so I urge it to cancel tomorrow, as discussed.

Covid-19 is still worsening in Iowa. As reported on Friday in the Register:
“Positive cases in Iowa, however, have been consistently rising over the last several weeks.
“The 191 new cases announced Friday were the single largest-day increase since the coronavirus was first confirmed in Iowa on March 8 — and a 9% increase in cases from the day prior.”

As a person in my late 60s, with asthma, there is absolutely no way that I would participate in a “congregation” like RAGBRA this year, and not until the Pandemic is over (i.e. a vaccine has been developed and deployed, 2021 at the earliest).

For those willing to take the risk for yourself, do you have the right to take the risk for others? You can catch it and give it to others without knowing you are contagious. That includes team mates, fellow riders, people in every town, law enforcement and emergency personnel, plus everyone you encounter on your way home.

We all love our RAGBRAI memories, even the ones overcoming adversity (storms, heat, etc.). Do you want RAGBRAI 2020 to go ahead and risk that the biggest memory will be RAGBRAI being identified as the probable trigger of a massive second wave in Iowa?

I will be cancelling for my sake. I hope RAGBRAI cancels for everybody’s sake.

jerry1975, Apr 19, 2020 at 5:59 pm

I say Lets RIDE, if you are worried about catching something stay on the porch and let the big dogs Lets get things back to normal.

Papa T, Apr 20, 2020 at 5:29 am

Well!
We’re waiting!

Joseph Schlau, Apr 20, 2020 at 6:04 am

jerry1975, Apr 19, 2020 at 5:59 pm
I say Lets RIDE, if you are worried about catching something stay on the porch and let the big dogs Lets get things back to normal.

You can ride all you want but there will be few if any towns that will welcome you.

Take some of your off time and read up a bit on topics like the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1917-1919. 100 years ago they had idiots who ignored medical advice. You can probably find their headstones in the many graveyards you pass on a Ragbrai route.

Garrett Fortner, Apr 20, 2020 at 7:09 am

tough decision no doubt! I really hope this happens though! great week of my year bo doubt always look forward to it! I know itd be a challange but what if you moved the dates back?

Dan Holmes, Apr 20, 2020 at 8:48 am

I’m recovering from Covid 19. Trust me, it’s not worth the suffering……..for ANY reason!

Laura Beal, Apr 20, 2020 at 9:17 am

I doubt too many towns are going to welcome the riders.

laxpatrick, Apr 20, 2020 at 9:35 am

Soooooooooo, when’s the announce?

KDeanMiller, Apr 20, 2020 at 9:36 am

As a health care worker in Iowa and 12 time RAGBRAI rider, I say Please Cancel and return strong next year. Currently social distancing is our only proven way to lessen the chance of spreading this disease. This is the time that Iowa and world bike riders alike, need to be leaders and set a good example for the rest of the world. Give our scientific community a chance to come up with reliable testing and a vaccine that works. Show respect for the health care workers providing care for the inflicted and countless others working to keep our essential services up and running. Then we can all come together for another great time riding across our state.

Joseph Schlau, Apr 20, 2020 at 1:25 pm

Ragbrai just announced the postponement until 2021. Good call.

DanaPSC, Apr 20, 2020 at 2:50 pm

Dan Holmes

I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with this virus, and glad that you seem to be recovering. I wish you a fast and full recovery. I live in New Jersey, just outside New York City, and see the effects of this disease every day.

Thanks for offering your personal experience and encouragement to the ride directors. A lot of folks here, me included, agree with you, and it sounds like they have made the decision we suggested.

Good luck. I hope you can join the ride in 2021.

Leave a Comment