Friday, January 17, 2020

Friday News And Views

Iowa's Ride was created as a response to a dust-up concerning charitable giving.
RAGBRAI Admits To Misleading Public On Financial Affairs.

Last week a report in :The Gazette", an Eastern Iowa news media source, stated that it was revealed by the current RAGBRAI staff at a recent meeting that RAGBRAI had not been very transparent in what their finances were and that charitable giving had not been as promised. (Read the article here) I'll let that stand on its own merits, but I will also add that this money making ploy that Gannett and RAGBRAI engaged in had been something many people close to the event had guessed at for years.

Newspapers used to be pretty profitable businesses back in the 70's and 80's. This brought about a time of consolidation and corporate take-overs of many independent newspapers. This consolidation of news sources under fewer owners, and corporate entities had many negative effects, but I want to focus in on RAGBRAI.

Gannett purchased the Des Moines Register in 1985 (Source: "The New York Times" article here) Back in the 80's and early 90's, this had little to no effect upon RAGBRAI. Prices were cheap, parties were wild, and everyone was having a pretty good time. But then the internet came along and newspapers weren't the main source of news anymore. (And partiers couldn't be anonymous anymore) This gradually put more and more financial stress on newspapers. Advertising, especially classified ads, started to disappear, and with them the revenue which was the lifeblood of newspaper organizations. Subsequently, RAGBRAI began to feel the changes. Gannett started dipping into revenues generated by the ride's shops, 14 of them at one point, by way of a sort of "tax" on everything sold on the route. T-shirts, which generated thousands of dollars for the supporting shops, were "taxed" and became far more expensive for the shops to sell. This negatively affected revenue for the shops on the ride. What's more, the Register set up its own concessions, selling, you guessed it- t-shirts, for less money, undercutting the shop vendors. Then they made their gear the "official gear" of RAGBRAI, and that killed the various t-shirts which used to be collected by RAGBRAI riders from the various shops at overnights. RAGBRAI made all the money there after that happened.

RAGBRAI then instigated a policy where overnight shops manned by the various businesses that supported the ride for the week, were placed at overnight towns in inconvenient locations, while the Register's concessions were front and center where the action was. Gannett was also not owning up to what it was taking in on the ride, and all the while they were stiffing towns and organizations supporting the ride with clean-up fees, and shutting down bars and moving people along the route in pass-through towns, and more, which hurt business and charities. Gannett reaped the benefits and made RAGBRAI a revenue stream where there wasn't meant to be one, and philanthropy and donations suffered as a result. Now the former staff has resigned, forcing this to come out into the light of day.

All this to say that many people close to the ride had hunches back in the day that this was the case. Whether or not you support the Iowa's Ride or RAGBRAI, that's a pretty sad tale for an event which is beloved by thousands of cyclists the world over.

A decade of Gent's Race madness- and I'll have been to every one of them.
 The Renegade Gent's Race Reaches its Tenth Edition:

If you've been around the blog for the last ten years you know that I love the Renegade Gent's Race. Or maybe it is just the "Gent's Race" these days. Anyway, I have a LOT of, (maybe too much at times) fun at this event.

You know, I've seen a thing going around of late from a site called "Medium" where some self-proclaimed "expert" on the gravel scene was saying a bunch of stuff, and a couple things he was saying were that women were under-represented in gravel and young people were too. Now, I'd wager he's never even heard about the Gent's Race, 'cause if he had, he wouldn't be saying such nonsense.

The Gent's Race is antithetical to where a lot of the "Big Time Gravel Machine" events are going. While the Gent's Race does have the ultra-competitive element, it has the "fun hog" element too. (To borrow a turn of phrase from 90's mtb-lingo) You'll see trains of fit, skin-suit clad freaks and a whole team of females on fat bikes with boas on and everything in between. Young and old participate too. It's a true amalgam of the gravel scene.

Anyway, this one is a big deal for me because it marks ten years ago that I met a few guys I didn't know and we've come together for nine years now every April to enjoin in some bicycle riding with a heapin' helpin' of frivolity. I wouldn't miss the tenth one for the world.

 New Podcast Up:

I know...... It'd been almost a year since we had put anything out, but there is a new Riding Gravel Radio Ranch podcast out now on its own feed! You can reach it via the link which takes you to the Riding Gravel site, or check out iTunes and look for "Riding Gravel" there. We are transferring over some of the older podcasts as well so check that out.

I know I've said this deal would be "more regular" than it has been, and well, now anything is more regular than it has been! In fact, this new podcast is only the second episode in two years. But if this doesn't get off the ground and going, I'd be surprised. It's all part of the joining up with Andy's Bike Shop. This new partnership and my employment with Andy's should help generate more episodes since Andy is keen on it to get going. I think my partner Ben is as well, and getting this shoved off on its own feed is a sign that the times are a changin'. 

So, I don't know what is realistic to expect, but I'd like to think maybe twice a month would be a good goal to shoot for. We'll see about that. Worse comes to worse and I could just podcast from my own place here, but let's not go there just yet. The plan is to stay the course and get more regular episodes out there. 

Thanks for the enthusiastic response so far to this new show. I know I have zero expectation that anyone should care anymore after almost a year since the last show, so I am overwhelmed that anyone should check into it at this point. Thanks!

And that's a wrap for this week. Look for more gravel related news tomorrow here, and in the meantime, stay warm and safe!


NY Roll said...

Can I get a link to this Medium? When I look it up all I get is medium gravel ads for landscaping.

Guitar Ted said...

@N.Y. Roll - It's a rubbish take and I'm not going to honor the author with clicks.

DT said...

So Happy to see the RGRR back (although I just checked iTunes and can't see it yet). I know Ben is a great guy and he's good for the sport, but he definitely lacks punctuality when it comes to uploading content. I am glad you are free to post on your own feed. Now if only Just Riding Along followed suit....

Rydn9ers said...

Looking forward to the Gents race, hotel is already booked and fantastic news about the Podcast. Have it downloading as we speak!