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Ride competing with RAGBRAI changes dates, direction

Iowa's Ride will travel east to west one week before RAGBRAI

Cyclists ride up a hill south of Chariton during Day 4 of RAGBRAI on Wednesday, July 24, 2019. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Cyclists ride up a hill south of Chariton during Day 4 of RAGBRAI on Wednesday, July 24, 2019. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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The organizer for a new weeklong bike ride that would have gone head-to-head with Iowa’s iconic summer biking tradition called RAGBRAI — concerning many who felt the divide could destroy both rides — has moved the dates and direction to avoid the direct competition.

Iowa’s Ride has been rescheduled for a week earlier — July 12 to 18 — and the direction will be from Iowa’s eastern borders to western so those interested in doing both could finish Iowa’s Ride and then join RAGBRAI, which is July 19-25 and goes from Iowa’s west side to east.

“The most overwhelming concern that keeps coming up is the date of the event and how it is dividing long standing cycling teams,” according to by Iowa’s Ride posted to Facebook on Friday. “We have even heard from teams trying to decide who gets the team bus for the week. This was never our intent, and this is not good for anyone who just wants to ride their bike.”

“We want to do the right thing for riders in Iowa, so we will change the dates,” the statement continued

Registration for RAGBRAI, which costs $175 for a weeklong pass, opened on Monday.

Iowa’s Ride registration is also open. The fee is $150 through Feb. 1 and then raises to $175.

The founder of Iowa’s Ride, T.J. Juskiewicz, had been the RAGBRAI director for 16 years, but resigned along with his staff in October, posted a scathing letter about how the corporate entity over RAGBRAI had silenced him. RAGBRAI was founded in 1972 by to Des Moines Register journalists and has grown into tourism juggernaut for the state.

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The Des Moines Register and its parent company Gannett continues to own RAGBRAI, which is based out of the Register offices in Des Moines.

Juskiewicz announced Iowa’s Ride in coordination with his resignation and promised to reveal the route this month, two months before the RAGBRAI route announcement, and he vowed all proceeds would go back to Iowa charities.

That promise took new meaning this week with a report by WHO-TV in Des Moines suggesting for less of the profits from RAGBRAI return to Iowa then claimed by the Des Moines Register and Gannett, which is based in Virginia.

A message seeking comment to the Register and Gannett was not immediately returned.

The two competing rides caused a rift in the biking community with long time riders, vendors and other supporters torn on what to do.

“We apologize to those who have scheduled around this week and will be disappointed by this decision,” Iowa’s Ride statement noted. “We will refund 100 percent of those entry fees if they request since they no longer wish to do the ride.”

Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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