DES MOINES, Iowa — Cyclists and organizations who have been a part of RAGBRAI for years are still dealing with the shocking announcement of RAGBRAI organizers resigning and the creation of another statewide ride.
Long time RAGBRAI supporter and Former Des Moines Register Columnist Chuck Offenburger said he was shocked that they scheduled the new ride, Iowa’s Ride, for the same week as RAGBRAI .
“I’m disappointed and it’s a bad idea. I guess I recognize competition is a reality in all aspects of our lives, but to start another week-long ride the same time as Ragbrai seems foolish to me,” Offenburger said.
Offenburger said because RAGBRAI runs from one side of Iowa to the other, it has a huge economic impact and would be difficult to put on two rides of the same magnitude.
“RAGBRAI is so big that it taxes Iowa to the max, including the host towns, the state patrol, other law enforcement, all the food vendors, it takes a tremendous effort. Everybody knows that’s been around it. And it would be a real challenge to have two rides going on at the same time,” Offenburger said.
Offenburger said he hopes Former RAGBRAI Organizer and Director of Iowa’s Ride TJ Juskiewicz can work something out with the Des Moines Register.
“I wish TJ Juskiewicz and his staff had taken more time to try to work out the differences that he’s obviously had with the Register bosses and I hope that might happen yet,” Offenburger said.
The Iowa State Patrol said they were also very surprised by the news.
Iowa State Patrol Sergeant Alex Dinkla said they assign 18 to 20 officers to keep people safe during RAGBRAI .
“We have to sit down and work out amongst those organizers to find out as far as staffing levels what do we have and then also look at the number of projected riders that might be on those rides and how we are going to feasibly do that amongst two different rides that might be happening at the exact same time,” Dinkla said.
Dinkla says during the ride they have officers on two teams: one stationed at intersections focused on overall safety and another on alcohol enforcement.
“Our main mission is to keep people safe so no matter what ride it may be that we have to support our main mission is that we are going to make sure that we keep people safe,” Dinkla said.
Dinkla said for RAGBRAI , the state patrol usually gets involved in the planning and safety process after the specific towns of the ride are announced in January.