ANKENY, Iowa — After the director of RAGBRAI announced Tuesday that he and his team are leaving to start their own ride during the same week, some long-time riders are saying it might be for the best.
Former RAGBRAI Director T.J. Juskiewicz said his team’s resignation is due to how the Des Moines Register and its parent company Gannett handled the Carson King story.
The former RAGBRAI team’s new bide ride across the state is called Iowa’s Ride. According to its website, Iowa’s Ride will begin in western Iowa on July 19, 2020 and travel across northern Iowa before finishing at a town along the Mississippi River on July 25. Those are the same dates as next year’s RAGBRAI.
Long-time RAGBRAI rider of 14 years, Carrie Zeisneiss, said she was shocked at first but thinks this breakup might be better for bringing the ride back to its roots. She said over the years, RAGBRAI has shifted to aiding corporate interests.
“It’s gotten a lot more commercialized and not necessarily for the better in my opinion,” she said.
She isn’t alone in that sentiment. RAGBRAI rider of 11 years, Jay Ross Carlson, said he hopes the new ride will get back to “grassroots cycling.”
“We liked stopping at the mom-and-pop stands on the side of the road or getting pies from the churches,” Carlson said. “RAGBRAI has gotten away from that and Iowa needs to get back to its roots.”
When asked whether or not they will continue with RAGBRAI or join Juskiewicz’s new Iowa’s Ride, both said they will join the new ride, despite their long-time commitment to RAGBRAI.
“Absolutely not going anywhere else but with T.J. That’s where my heart and soul is. It’s not with the Register. That was just an umbrella on the corporate tyranny I think we’re going towards a little bit,” Zeisneiss said.
Carlson said he is not sure if he sees RAGBRAI lasting in the long-term after this news. He also said many cyclists have also grown close to Juskiewicz through RAGBRAI, and he predicts they will keep their loyalty.
“I’ll switch and I know T.J. will put 110 percent effort into it,” Carlson said.
The Register announced it will continue RAGBRAI in 2020, despite the staff resignations.