8.01.2010

10 Minutes - RAGBRAI 2010: I'm Back!

Hi. It's Joe.

I am back from RAGBRAI 2010 (aka RAGBRAI XXXVIII, I think). It was a total blast, although not quite as much of a blast as previous years.

It's become a little bit too corporatized and sterilized. This was illustrated best when I saw STANDING HAMPTON perform in Charles City, IA on Wednesday night 7/28/10.

On RAGBRAI in 2004, this band was performing on a flatbed truck bed and several members of our RAGBRAI bike team (named Team Crazy Bird) jumped up on stage and rocked "Only One Way to Rock" (by Sammy Hagar) with them.

This time around, they were playing on the RAGBRAI main stage at the overnight town. As such, they were totally isolated. They couldn't even interact with the crowd. I am glad they are becoming successful as a band, but the crowd participation aspect that makes RAGBRAI so cool has been lost. Everything has to be licensed and approved now. You can't sell food or play music without permission.

In 2004 and 2006, Team Crazy Bird had a full rock band on the ride. We performed at bars and on the tops of busses of the various RAGBRAI team names. I wonder if we could even do that today, or would we be shut down by the corporatists on the RAGBRAI committee?

Now, don't get me wrong. I know the Des Moines Register newspaper that hosts the week-long bike ride across Iowa is a for profit corporation, and without the proceeds of RAGBRAI, this midwest newspaper would probably go under like so many others have.

But it is just a shame that the essence of the original RAGBRAI, the human interaction, is going by the wayside. Now it is all about making money on beer, food, and entertainment. Lame.

Case in point - Mr. Pork Chop. In earlier RAGBRAI's, Mr. Pork Chop would set up a stand by the side of the road on RAGBRAI and sell big fat juicy Iowa pork chops for $4 or $5 bucks. They were yummy.

After Mr. Pork Chop himself retired from RAGBRAI a couple of years ago, his son took over the operation and started exploiting the Mr. Pork Chop name for pure greed, charging $7 for the same exact pork chop. You can't tell me that pork is that much more expensive now than it was then.

You can tell me that the young tike Pork Chop has probably hired a few minimum wage minions and has a higher overhead than his dad, who did everything himself.

Sometimes the good ol' fashioned way of doing things is the right way.

Lastly, the Iowa State Troopers (poopers?) have really cracked down on the RAGBRAI parties. They don't think RAGBRAIers can take responsibility for their own actions (granted, some are total idiots who actually can't make a rational decision if their lives depended on it, like the "creepy drunks"). I can see their ends, I just don't think it justifies the means.

They come into the towns and force the local watering holes to stop serving alcohol for an hour so the drunk bikers will move on. The idea is to get all the stragglers into camp before dark. Notwithstanding the unconstitutionality of it, it doesn't work very well, because the really creepy drunken RAGBRAI teams usually roll into the towns after the curfew has lifted and the beer is flowing again. Secondly, the troopers' M.O. when they shut down a town is to tell all the cyclists present to pound their drinks and get back on their bikes. Real smart...

But we still had a fun time. You can view pictures on my Facebook page and probably on the Team Crazy Bird web site soon too.

Here's a sample...



My time is up.

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