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  1. #1
    Senior Member JimF22003's Avatar
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    Treated Like Crap on a Century

    If this post comes off as whining, and I should just HTFU, I apologize in advance, but I wanted to get this off my chest. It's way too long too, so skip it if that kind of thing bugs you.

    Last weekend I did a hilly organized century ride a good distance away from where I live. I won't mention the name, because it's for a good cause, but it's easy to figure out if you're interested, or you can PM me.

    I'd been looking forward to this event, because it was in an area where I used to live 20 years ago, and it involved some nice hill work including a 2500 ft climb on a section of the Blue Ridge Parkway that I've always wanted to do. The century was 10000+ feet of climbing, and the metric was 6500 feet.

    The ride was smaller than I expected. There were only about 100 riders. I don't know how many of them signed up for the century option originally. The day was very rainy. No downpours, but steady rain almost the whole way.

    On the way off of the BRP it was very, very cold and the rain was as heavy as it had been all day. I seriously considered just doing the metric. We were advised that if we didn't make the "decision point" for the metric vs. the full century by noon, we should just do the metric anyway for time reasons. I made it to the turn-off by 11:15am. I'm not the fastest rider in the world, but I thought that was respectable. I was certainly riding in front of as many riders as were riding ahead of me.

    I stopped for a minute to think it over, and then decided to go for it and push on. I was feeling pretty hard-core frankly. I was riding in the hills, in the rain, and was actually enjoying myself immensely.

    Because of the rain, apparently only 5 or 6 people chose to do the full century option. Needless to say they were all faster than me (and 20 years younger.) By the time I got to the rest stop at about 60 miles, the SAG guy came up to me and asked me "the ride organizer wants to know how you're doing. Think you're OK to do the last 35 miles?" I thought that was kind of an odd question. I didn't think I looked all that bad. I was feeling fine. I said no problem, and took off a few minutes later.

    At about mile 77, I was flagged down on the road by the SAG guy, who informed me that I was the "last one on the road". He said the ride organizer was complaining that everybody at the remaining rest stop and at the finish was ready to go home (it was only about 2:00pm at the time.) Nobody wanted to wait around for me to limp my way in. I was given the "option" of finishing the ride on my own, but there would be no remaining rest stop or other assistance in case I had problems.

    I was pretty p*ssed. I didn't know the area well enough to take my chances on finding my way back. And why should I? I paid my money like everybody else. I felt like I had no option but to get in the SUV and drive back to the start. Here I was feeling pretty good, pretty hardcore for riding in the rain, and I ended up having to SAG in which I've never, ever done before in numerous organized century rides.

    When we got back to the start the ride organizer was apologetic. She said, "I'm sorry you weren't able to finish the ride." I just said "I was able to finish the ride" and left.

    I think this is really cheesy behavior on the part of any organized event like this. I won't be doing the ride next year, which is a shame, because it was beautiful country and a beautiful route.

  2. #2
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    Wow......... you have a right to complain. They had several other options they could have considered-like having the Sag vehicle be the rest stops for you. They also have the responsibility to make sure you finish safely. Having said that they rely on volunteers--and sometimes that can make putting on an event very challenging.

  3. #3
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    I think you have every right to complain. You were well within the limits set by the organizers. They should have had rest stops open for you and you should have been met by cheers as you arrived at the stops and at the finish. Cheers to you for a solid and tough ride. None for the inconsiderate and nonsupportive staff of the ride. I hope you are sending them a letter expressing your complaint.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  4. #4
    Senior Member howsteepisit's Avatar
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    I have the same ting happen to me, except it was a nice sunny day. I did not mind at the time, but at the same time, after reading your account, as long as you were not exceeding a pre-set time limit, then they were wrong. But sagging in, I'd die first. I wonder what would have happened if you had refused the ride?
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  5. #5
    Senior Member roadwarrior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jppe View Post
    Wow......... you have a right to complain. They had several other options they could have considered-like having the Sag vehicle be the rest stops for you. They also have the responsibility to make sure you finish safely. Having said that they rely on volunteers--and sometimes that can make putting on an event very challenging.
    They did. They offered him a ride in.

    Another person did a calculation that it took him 2 hours 45 minutes to ride 17 miles.

    I'd suggest more training beforehand.
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  6. #6
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    I did the Bay to Bay ride a few years agao in Maryland. The volunteer at the last rest stop decided to close it down because he ran out of food, drinks, and other things. Of course he had a phone and could have called for more but didn't. The temps were around 90 and I ran out of water by then. Fortunately a fast food restaurant was close and I had money for a coke.

    Another year they though Tang was the same as Gatorade.
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  7. #7
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadwarrior View Post
    Another person did a calculation that it took him 2 hours 45 minutes to ride 17 miles.

    I'd suggest more training beforehand.
    In re-reading his account, I believe this is a miscalculation.

    He said he made it to the "turn-off" where you decide if you are going to ride the metric or century at 11:15. Then later he made it to the 60 mile rest stop. Then at 2 he was at 77 miles.

    Whomever made your referenced calculation combined what appears to be two points, the decision point and the 60 mile rest stop, as both occurring at 11:15.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Not the Slowest's Avatar
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    From a Sweep Marshall of many rides

    I'm 50, so I qualify to respond.

    I just did a sweep of a 150 mile ride with really bad winds in NY and a terrible downpour that just made this a long tough day.
    That said, My job was to help keep people rolling and that my partner and I did
    numerous times.
    As I passed people I would ask if they were okay and kept rolling as the SAG wagon would collect people at a certain time.

    Now let's get to you. They did you wrong, simple.
    If you ride within the cut off time they should not pull you off the road. In fact they should stay with you until the cut off time and give you an option if possible to ride at your own risk and sign a waver. If no waver, then it should be witnesses by two SAG people.
    It's hard enough riding in the cold rain even if you ride 10 mph or 20 you should be supported and motivated.

    Don't punish the Charity, just put your butt on the saddle for another cause.

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  9. #9
    Broom Wagon Fodder reverborama's Avatar
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    I'd have been mad! And I'll tell you what, if I was running an event there's no WAY I would tell a rider I was going to leave him/her out on the course alone. If all my course workers wanted to go home, I would man the stops myself and only force riders to SAG if it was outside the originally agreed upon time limit. If you aren't willing to stick it out to the end, no matter what, you shouldn't be organizing events.

  10. #10
    Pat
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    That was cheesy behavior. I think certain groups see organized bike rides as ways to raise money for their favorite cause. They can often not be very aware of the mechanics of the thing. They are also not aware of their responsibilities. A century needs a certain amount of support.

    Here in Central FL, many centuries are just terrible. They route you through areas that have no convenience stores. So you have no way to get things like food and water on your own. Then they do not have the SAG stops up. Heck, I even had this happen on a century supported by Bike Florida which is the state's big bicycle advocacy group.

    There are groups that do a routinely excellent job on their centuries.

    Your experience of being informed that they were going to abandon you if you continued to ride the ride is pretty over the top though.

  11. #11
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    Out of about 100 riders, you were one of the 5 or 6 who stuck it out beyond 77 miles, and deserve respect. Deliberately discouraging you from finishing was uncalled for. Back when I was running cross country, we would always wait for the last finishers and cheer them the loudest of all, as they had to struggle as hard as the top finishers.

    Paul

  12. #12
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    I'll echo the others. If the weather was so bad that the support staff didn't want to hang out at the rest stops for the full allotted time, then they should have refunded everyone's money and canceled the whole thing. They had no business pulling support or pulling you off the road before the cutoff time. If it were me, I'd write to the organizers and tell them so, along with a request for them to 'make it right' by refunding your money or (if you're interested in this option) registering you for free next year.

  13. #13
    Pedal pusher... alicestrong's Avatar
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    Very, very poor support there. Short sighted on the organizer's side...

    Ask for refund, good idea...
    May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

  14. #14
    It's MY mountain DiabloScott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alicestrong View Post
    Very, very poor support there. Short sighted on the organizer's side...

    Ask for refund, good idea...

    Yup. Might not work but he's entitled to it. I'll bet real American money that the registration said "ride happens rain or shine - no refunds". They didn't fulfill their end of the contract... they shouldn't get the money.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member tntyz's Avatar
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    There's some information missing here. How long would the last 23 miles take for you to finish? 2 hours? 3? Was weather getting worse? How about wind? Was that last part of the course tougher than the earlier stretch?


    You did say you were the LAST rider out on the course. Typically it can be hard to get volunteers for a charity event. Even harder if the impression is that people sat around for 2+ hours in the rain because there was 1 rider left on the road.

    It seems like the communication could have been handled differently so that you would come away feeling better about the situation. Would you have felt differently if the organizer met you on the course, exlained the situation, offered a refund, and then called the event?

    I'd chalk it up to experience and move on. If I had to vote. I'm on the side of the organizer. She lost 1 rider for next year's event, but kept all of her volunteers.

  16. #16
    Pedal pusher... alicestrong's Avatar
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    They could have let most of the volunteers leave...

    The last rider is still entitled to support if the rider paid.

    There was no agreement on a cut off time.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by tntyz View Post
    There's some information missing here. How long would the last 23 miles take for you to finish? 2 hours? 3? Was weather getting worse? How about wind? Was that last part of the course tougher than the earlier stretch?


    You did say you were the LAST rider out on the course. Typically it can be hard to get volunteers for a charity event. Even harder if the impression is that people sat around for 2+ hours in the rain because there was 1 rider left on the road.

    It seems like the communication could have been handled differently so that you would come away feeling better about the situation. Would you have felt differently if the organizer met you on the course, exlained the situation, offered a refund, and then called the event?

    I'd chalk it up to experience and move on. If I had to vote. I'm on the side of the organizer. She lost 1 rider for next year's event, but kept all of her volunteers.
    +1. I also bet there's some info in his packet saying the organizers sweep the course at various cutoff times/points. He mentioned the sag wagon approached him at 2:00. Organizers can't expect volunteers to make an entire day of it.

    I know I wouldn't want volunteers to be out there with me in those conditions. A cue sheet, computer and cell phone is all that's needed. Plus courses are usually marked well.
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  18. #18
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    As a past and future ride director of charity rides, I know how tempting it can be to cut support for one or two riders coming in significantly later than all the others, but I would never allow a situation like what I am understanding this one was to occur. If the riders were within the stated time limits (if any) I would make sure there was road support and food and water at the rest stops until they finished. If we had promised food and/or facilities at the end of the ride, I'd be sure they had them. If it was a really long wait, I would give my volunteers the option of leaving, but I would support those remaining riders if it meant I had to do it by myself. And I would be sure to do so with a smile on my face and encouragement and appreciation in my voice. Basically, treat them the way I would want to be treated, not as an inconvenience.

    You can't please everyone on a ride, but you can make sure you deliver what you promise to your riders. Unless I'm missing something, this ride's organizers did not deliver what they promised. I would not want to ride on a ride they put on.
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  19. #19
    It's MY mountain DiabloScott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
    As a past and future ride director of charity rides, I know how tempting it can be to cut support for one or two riders coming in significantly later than all the others, but I would never allow a situation like what I am understanding this one was to occur.
    Thank you. "Rain or shine" should mean the same thing to the orgnizers as it does to the riders.

    Set reasonable cut off times and stick to them even if it's only one guy.

    Once I did a ride (AMBBR around Tahoe) that had to abort because the Nevada Highway Patrol closed the rode due to snow... the organizers had to shuttle hundreds of us back down the California side in school buses and bike trailers from a closed ski lodge. They knocked themselves out trying to do the right thing.
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  20. #20
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StanSeven View Post
    +1. I also bet there's some info in his packet saying the organizers sweep the course at various cutoff times/points. He mentioned the sag wagon approached him at 2:00. Organizers can't expect volunteers to make an entire day of it.
    Even given that you can't expect them to spend an entire day, isn't 2pm a little early to call time on a century ride?

    However I do have some sympathy for their position. All day rain, every other rider has given it up. One person left and they may be out for 2 more hours. Might be time to see if you can buy them off, with money or race gear. A persuasive approach is usually easier to accept. The OP says that they flagged him down and told him that support staff were complaining. It reads like the "pitch" was a negative one.

    Offer a hearty congratulations for sticking it out so long, a couple of extra shirts, refund half their ride fee, maybe something in the way of recognition on the ride's web site, whatever. You might still have a rider who doesn't want to quit & thus some conflict, but people tend to be reasonable.
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  21. #21
    Senior Member JimF22003's Avatar
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    I'm getting a much better response in this forum than in the Road Forum, but I expected that. Here's what I posted there:

    Thanks for the comments everybody. Sounds like the consensus is that I suck. I'm cool with that

    I'll just add a couple of notes:

    - Before the start it was emphasized "this is not a race. Ride your own pace." I believed 'em I was trying to ride a bit conservatively because it was a lot of climbing in one day for me.

    - The decision point was mile 47. I had no idea how many people were ahead of me. I didn't realize it was only 5 or 6. I assumed that there were at least one or two behind me, but I assumed wrong.

    - The only time cutoff mentioned was 6:00pm. They cut me off at about 2:00pm. We were supposed to divert to the metric if we hit the decision point after noon. It was 11:15am.

    - In retrospect I definitely should have finished on my own. I could have had the SAG guy fill up my waterbottles and maybe go rustle up a banana or something. My mistake.

    - I checked my GPS log. My avg. time for two recorded legs was 13.2 and 13.7. Man that really does blow.

    I probably won't have anything else to add. Thanks again for the feedback.

  22. #22
    Senior Member dorosz's Avatar
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    The consensus there is you suck for averaging over 13 MPH on hills in the rain What a bunch of winners there are in that forum.

    I think you ought to package the great advice the 50+ ers have given and send it on to the ride organizer with a polite note that explains how they let you down and what they ought to be doing to ensure it doesn't happen the next time they run the ride. One thing is for sure; they won't change if they don't percieve a need to and they won't see the need unless you let them know not only how you feel about the treatment but how many other riders you toutch through the forums and personally who will all end up sharing your perception if the ride doesn't address things.
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  23. #23
    Randomhead
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    I've had worse, (i.e. zero - "here's a map") support on a century. That being said, I don't think this organizer should be doing centuries. It's extremely common for people to take 10 hours to do a century, and organizers should plan for that. If someone is just collecting money for charity, they need a different vehicle.

  24. #24
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    By the Road Forum standards, yes you suck. But that's their standard answer, so you suck no matter what. Don't worry about it. The thing is, they took your money and promised you support until 6:00 PM. It's too bad that the rainy weather wrecked their money-maker and a single rider wasn't worth their time; but that's not an excuse to breach the contract they had with you.

  25. #25
    don't be so angry clancy98's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
    By the Road Forum standards, yes you suck. But that's their standard answer, so you suck no matter what.
    lol ain't that the truth
    Irregardless is not a word, and you do not sound more intelligent using it.

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