RAGBRAI staff leaves and creates a competing bike ride

Published: Oct. 16, 2019 at 6:55 PM CDT
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Bike riders can expect some changes to RAGBRAI, the annual bike ride across Iowa. The ride's organizers split from the Des Moines Register after the paper's handling of the Carson King story with one of their reporters revealing an old tweet from King.

Some bike riders aren't making any decisions or reacting until they hear more from both organizations about what the rides will entail, since they are on the same dates, dividing the riders.

"When the news came out of Des Moines, our organization hit the pause button and said 'wow this is big news'" said

President and Ceo of Visit Quad Cities, Dave Herrell.

"My initial opinion was it seemed like an extreme measure that may have been taken to get some action," said Chad Jensen, President of Riverbend Bicycle Club. He said he was surprised by the announcement that RAGBRAI's staff stepped away from the event to create their own, "I'm just interested to see how this plays out."

Jensen explained most people that joined his bike club do so to be sure they have a spot in RAGBRAI. Now with two races, he isn't sure which event they'll choose: "I'm really not sure. Maybe club members will wait to see which routes are which and then make our decision. I don't see many of our club members will take a political side but if all things are equal maybe that'll be a part of the decision making. But it's really hard to say until we get together with more people and find out."

The races being on the same dates is not only splitting the riders, but the money going to the cities the bikers travel through as well. "Instead of a big economic boost in towns, it'd be a smaller economic boost but it would go through more towns," said Jensen.

Herrell says RAGBRAI brings in millions of dollars to whichever town is picked as a stopping point during the ride. "It's great to see the people participating in an event of that magnitude. We get participants from all over the world that are consuming the state of Iowa and when we get a chance to host it like in 2018, it's a big deal for us. It's a great opportunity for our brand, for our story and a great thing for tourism and economic value so certainly it's a big deal."

Whichever way the organizations go, bike riders will still get to enjoy the summer. "If you've ever been to RAGBRAI before, it's mostly about fun" shared Jensen.

RAGBRAI typically announces its route in January, and The Iowa Ride will be announcing theirs in the next month. Those will make a big difference in which ride bicyclists will choose. RAGBRAI attracts about 10,000 riders each year. Next summer will be its 48th annual event.

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