RAGBRAI 2020 is canceled due to COVID-19

Cyclists ride in the 2009 RAGBRAI. — Dave Herholz/Flickr

There will be no RAGBRAI this summer, organizers announced on Monday.

“After deep consideration and collaboration with the eight overnight town executive committees, government agencies, the public health department, and official business partners of RAGBRAI, we’ve made the difficult decision to postpone RAGBRAI XLVIII to July 25-31, 2021,” according to a statement on the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa’s website.

“RAGBRAI takes months of planning and preparation,” organizers explained in the statement. “Based on the extreme disruption COVID-19 has had and will have on the planning, we didn’t feel it was responsible to move forward and put the safety of our riders, crew, communities, or residents of Iowa at risk.”

“The safety of our riders has always been the most important focus for our RAGBRAI team and we feel the decision to postpone to July 25 -31, 2021 is the right one,” organizers said.

Information about refund options are available on RAGBRAI’s site. Organizers said they are planning a weekend ride to be held in the fall, and will provide more information on this in coming weeks.

This will be the first time since 1973 there will be no RAGBRAI.

The event began that year, when two writers for the Des Moines Register, John Karras and Donald Kaul, invited the public to join them on a six-day bicycle ride across the state, from the Missouri River to the Mississippi River. The following year, the ride expanded to its current length of seven days, and Bill Gilbert, a writer from Sports Illustrated, joined in. Gilbert wrote an article praising the relaxed and friendly cross-state ride, bringing international attention to the event.

In October, a new week-long cross-state biking event was announced. Iowa’s Ride was started by longtime members of RAGBRAI’s staff who quit after disagreements with management at Gannett, the parent company of the Des Moines Register.

In a statement on the Iowa’s Ride site, organizers said it still too early to make decisions about canceling or delaying the race.

“We will remain hopeful that the health risks will subside towards the end of summer,” Iowa’s Ride organizers said in their statement. They added, “our top priority is the safety of everyone involved in our inaugural event.”

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