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Old 05-13-12, 07:05 AM   #1
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Should I complain??

Did an organized century yesterday-first time doing this route. Great weather and route. Scenic views in the NC mountains. All but one of the climbs seemed fairly short except for the featured climb. I was needing to get in some extra time in the saddle and this was perfect for it. They offered 3 routes-30 miles, 70 and the 100+. All told I had about 108 miles with 7500 ft of climbing. The descents were about as much fun as you can have on a bike.

However some really strange things occurred during the event:
It appears they really designed this event around the 70 mile route. The featured climb was about 5 miles long and they had it timed. It was at 50 miles on the 70 route and 80 miles on the 100.
Only about 10-12 of us signed up for the 100.
They mismarked the route where the 100 route split off the 70 mile route at the 45 mile mark. All of us wound up out in the beautful very rural area of NC before we realized we were on the wrong roads. To make it worse the arrows not only directed us there they were still out there on the route. I was the only one with a gps on my phone so after a lot of time and debate I figured out where we needed to be. Most others got frustrated and just went back and got on the 70 mile route. I think only 3 of us eventually did the 100.....with several extra miles and climbing. One of the three missed another turn as it was not marked.......
Since only a small number of us did the 100 they opted to NOT do the rest stop on that extra loop. They told us that at the start so at least we knew. However with the extra miles that turned into quite a long distance between rest stops for some.
I managed to loop back to the same rest stop where the 100 route split off. We gave them our bib numbers as requested so they would know we made it back as that loop was apparently not sagged.
The next and final rest stop was at the top of the climb so I decided to just take enough fluids to get to the top of the climb. I didn't want to carry the extra fluids with me up the hill!
When I got to where the timing mat was supposed to be noone was around. I pulled off to take a nature break and that was a big mistake. Both legs cramped to badly I couldn't get back on the bike. After trying to calm them down for a while I didn't have a choice and swallowed my pride and tried to walk it off. I thought the sag vehicle might come by and I could get some assistance.
After about walking a mile I was okay again and got back on the bike.
I made it to the top but by the time I got there the folks had abandoned the rest stop-I couldn't even tell where it was supposed to be. I had used up all my fluids on the climb and trying to help with the cramps. So, about 20 miles to go, no fluids and apparently they had left the event unsupported. And while very beautiful I was out in the wilderness-at least it seemed that way to me.
We were out there longer than expected but it really wasn't our fault as we had a lot of issues with the extra loop we were doing.

I don't have any problems riding on my own as I do that all the time. However they should have let me know that they were stopping support of the route so I could have been prepared. The organizers took a realy huge risk doing what they did......
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Old 05-13-12, 07:08 AM   #2
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I don't know if informing the organizers is complaining. They should know about the problems at their event.
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Old 05-13-12, 07:10 AM   #3
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When this kind of thing happens to me I don't complain, I just don't go back.
My list of organized rides I won't do again is much longer than the list I will.
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Old 05-13-12, 07:14 AM   #4
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I don't know if informing the organizers is complaining. They should know about the problems at their event.
I would inform them that I was unhappy about some dangerous mistakes in the organization of the ride. If that's complaining, so be it.
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Old 05-13-12, 07:19 AM   #5
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Guessing the rest stop volunteers didn't know any riders were still riding.

I have done a lot of sag work and have seen many riders Miss Three Signs that show a Right Turn and they Keep going straight.

I would Chase them down and turn them around.

Also as a rider , I have missed signs.

Seems to be a normal part of rides run by volunteers.


This was was your mistake:

"I didn't want to carry the extra fluids with me up the hill!"

I always carry FIVE Bottles on a 100 mile ride.

Volunteer for a rest stop or sag on a big ride and you will learn much.

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Old 05-13-12, 07:20 AM   #6
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There's "inform" and there's "complain".

Keep in mind that probably nobody is getting paid anything for the time and effort they put into putting on the ride. By the way that you asked the question you sound like an "inform" kind of person to me.

If you verbally abuse whomever you talk to, they probably won't want to put themself into that position next year so you'll get somebody new without the experience and your message will have been lost.
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Old 05-13-12, 07:22 AM   #7
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I would send them your OP on this thread. It explains things quite well. They can't improve if they don't know about the problems. BTW, congrats on the 108 miles. Your rides always blow me away. I guess your health has recovered from a couple of years ago. That's great.
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Old 05-13-12, 07:26 AM   #8
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Give them feedback.

Don't do that ride again till you hear from others about how great it is, a sign that they have learned their lesson.
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Old 05-13-12, 07:46 AM   #9
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I have to add to my short reply, those rides which I look forward to year after year usually hand out a survey either via email or at the post ride meal, they seek the feedback with thoughtful questions. Year after year they get better as they utilize the information gathered in these surveys. If the organization doesn't even care to seek your comments and feedback they are liable to be equally interested in unsolicited comments. There are quite a few good organized rides that want my money/support all with good causes. A good ride will make sure their support staff is trained in their jobs and responsibilities. They will pair inexperienced people with experienced ones. If they can't get enough good volunteers then IMHO they should not run the event. People spend a lot of time and money to participate in these things and they deserve a good experience.

As an example, I drove 8 hours round trip to do a ride that wondered through the coast of Southern Mass. The scenery was great, the rest stops well spaced. However the rest stop food was poor and all they had was water. Then, at the end, you had to purchase your lunch, it was not included and no free swag was provided. After paying what I consider a premium price ($70) I decided that was the last time I would do that ride. My friend thinks it is a great ride and he will keep going back, each to their own. Now I compare that to the Pat Stratton ride (in the Adirondacks), Beautiful scenery, a very nice sports shirt (not a cotton T-shirt), well supported rest stops with a nice variety and a real BBQ with home made pies and salads all for about $40. Last year it got rained out by Irene and they mailed me my shirt! Now that's a good group of people and a good cause. Another is the Ididaride, one of my favorites, the party at the end is fantastic - beautiful scenery, evenly spaced well stocked rest stops, great professionally catered BBQ, a band, nice swag and a free local brew beer. It is no wonder that this ride has grown from a small group a few years back to a pretty big event. Each year they have taken the survey feedback and made finer and finer adjustments (from moving/adding rest stops to even adjusting the volume of the music). These people care about the rider experience.

Life is too short for a bad ride.

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Old 05-13-12, 08:05 AM   #10
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Call it what you want, a complaint or an inform, I would report the problems that you had on this ride. I do one of the three annual MS 150 events that are held in Florida. They have been doing these rides for the past 25 years and last months ride was my third. A few years ago, the MS group changed the event staff with new people and they changed pretty much everything about the ride.

The past two years, all route markings were sprayed on the streets with different colors for the different distances. The markings were small and often missed by many of the riders, myself included. Many riders were getting lost from missing poorly marked roads. There was also a very dangerous railroad crossing that we had to cross after leaving the last SAG stop. It was dangerous because of the angle that the tracks crossed the road and the very wide opening in the road where the tracks were laid. A lot of the less experienced riders dumped their bikes crossing these tracks and some required medical attention.

I, along with many other participants, made calls to the event staff about the problems, since I was one of those that got lost last year because of the poor markings. This year, the markings on the road were much larger (about 3-4 feet high vs a foot or so last year) and they also had regular signs placed along the route. They also had some carpets laid across the track to make it easier to cross and increased the number of SAG vehicles on the routes; stocking them with more than just water.

The only way to improve the ride is to let the organizers know about the issues and/or hazards that participants face while doing these rides. I don't see where you will be out of line by reporting the problems you encountered.
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Old 05-13-12, 08:08 AM   #11
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Life is too short for a bad ride.
I try to take a different approach. Life is long, and you can take the good from any experience, particularly a ride. If there are issues on an organized ride, I provide feedback, but I don't let the issues get in the way of my enjoyment. I put in quite a few extra miles on a century last year because I missed a right turn. The sign was small, it was early in the ride so I hadn't gotten used to their signage approach, and the turn was on a 30mph down hill, so I blew by the sign really quickly. But hey, the course is always ultimately the riders responsibility, so I used my iPhone to find my way back, and shrugged it off. They got feedback on signage, as well as some sketchy sections of the course that many felt were potentially dangerous for less experienced riders.
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Old 05-13-12, 08:27 AM   #12
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When I started writing to the elected officals that represent me many years ago, I learned quickly that they were much more likely to listen to the "complaints" if I had told them what I appreciated about their service first. It does make a difference if you want to see changes. Some folks can take negative feeback straight on and see complaints as valuable information. Others? Not so easy for them it feels too personal. If I were in your situation I would try to identify the things they did correctly, complement them on those things, and then point out the areas I think need attention.
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Old 05-13-12, 08:51 AM   #13
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Believe it or not, ride organizers do want your feedback, both positive and negative. Write your letter from their point of view: how to improve service and safety, make the participants happier, and encourage them to come again. If you write your letter from your point of view only (I'm mad as hell), then they will probably blow you off.
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Old 05-13-12, 10:37 AM   #14
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Most rides offer a ride survey. Check the website of the ride; there may be a page already set up for you to voice your complaint. I learned pretty quickly not to rely on the volunteers of a charity ride, that goes for law enforcement support too! I almost got killed riding through a red light that an officer was directing me to go through. Ever since that day the officers can wave all they want; I'm still checking things out for myself. Its nice to have the volunteers around, and the rest stops are nice but I always carry my own energy and nutritional supplements, and always make sure I've got enough water.

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Old 05-13-12, 11:27 AM   #15
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I wonder if the course was actually marked incorrectly. I've seen groups of riders miss turns that were clearly marked. Unless you drove back to view the sings as verification, I'd say it "could" have been your mistake. I've had rides complain about coursed marked incorrectly on centuries that I rode. How in the heck did I get back?

Also agree, wanting to minimize water on a ride with 7500 feet is your mistake.
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Old 05-13-12, 12:51 PM   #16
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By all means, let the ride organizers know about the problems you experienced. As a ride organizer myself, I can tell you that we need to know what goes wrong as much as we enjoy hearing about what went right. It takes a lot of effort, coordination and a bit of luck to pull off an event like an organized bike ride. One of my biggest fears in organizing my rides is that there will be some aspect of the ride that gets mishandled due to a lack of understanding among volunteers and that riders will simply go away and not let us know that there was a problem. You'd like to be on top of everything that goes into a ride, but things do go wrong and it is hard to fix them when you don't know about them.
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Old 05-13-12, 01:37 PM   #17
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When you pay to do an organized ride you have the right to expect to be supported. The fact that only 12 riders were doing the century doesn't remove them of that responsibility. I would certainly write the ride organizers and tell them of your experience on their ride and that you couldn't recommend the ride because of what happened.

Last year at Issaqueena's Last Ride, Neal and I were doing the century. The second sag was supposed to be at mile 42 so we skipped the first sag at mile 20 or so. Well no one setup the second sag and we were faced with having to do a long hot climb until mile 62 to get fluids. They heard about that I can guarantee you.

So let them know you were not pleased with how the ride was managed yesterday. That is the only way they will improve their logistics and make future rides better and safer.
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Old 05-13-12, 05:51 PM   #18
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Yes. Give them some feedback.
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Old 05-13-12, 05:59 PM   #19
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I agree they need the feedback

It seems they did not put much thought into the 100. From what I read they should not have offered it.

Do it right or don't do it at all

I would hesitate to take the longer distance in the future
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Old 05-13-12, 06:02 PM   #20
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As the others have said: Yes, give feedback.

When one of our local clubs helped put on a century a few years back we got plenty of feedback, which made subsequent centuries much more pleasant for the participants (except the one year when it was 100-ish degrees in mid-May).

Promoters do not want their riders to suffer -- so do them & future participants a favor and let 'em know.
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Old 05-14-12, 06:16 AM   #21
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I'll assume you paid to ride the century and certainly expected a clearly marked route and support. You definitely should send them a letter or an email detailing your complaint. If the respond and seem helpful and receptive, think about the next ride, if they blow you off, as said vote with your feet and do not ride with them again.

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Old 05-14-12, 06:26 AM   #22
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let them know-- I wouldn't really "complain"... think positively! You are now ready to tackle Indepemndence Pass and the century ride a couple of days later And you will have plenty of support there-- nt just from RTR, but also from your fellow 50+ers who you will hopefully be around (at least a little).

Sounds like your training is going well- see you in 4 weeks...

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Old 05-14-12, 03:25 PM   #23
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I wonder if the course was actually marked incorrectly. I've seen groups of riders miss turns that were clearly marked. Unless you drove back to view the sings as verification, I'd say it "could" have been your mistake. I've had rides complain about coursed marked incorrectly on centuries that I rode. How in the heck did I get back?

Also agree, wanting to minimize water on a ride with 7500 feet is your mistake.
I agree it wasn't very smart to cut it so close on fluids. If I had not had cramped so badly on the climb I'd probably been fine to the end of the ride. I guzzled a lot trying to get fluids in me-but should plan better for the unexpected.

We did go back to the intersection where the arrows were incorrect-the 100 mile took us back through that intersection. The arrow directed us to turn left when it should have pointed for us to go straight across the intersection. What was so confusing was that at the exact mileage the next turn was supposed to be an arrow directed to us turn..... and even in the right direction. These were really unusual arrows---looked like a fork---so they were just for this event.

I didn't mention that I struck up a conversation with the fella at the start that parked beside. As we were getting ready I asked him if he knew the route. He said he had marked it the day before......he went on to say that he got confused on the 100 mile route and tried to explain it to me. I didn't know the roads or where in the heck he was talking about but I sure wish I'd listened better. He should have gone back and corrected his mistake and made it crystal clear as well.

I have sent a very well crafted email to the organizers. If I were in there shoes I wouldn't be offended by it but would be concerned. I'm guessing that with the few number of 100 riders and the issues we created they will probably just abandon that loop in the future. It's unfortunate as those were the nicest roads and views.
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Old 05-14-12, 09:17 PM   #24
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Although I haven't consciously minimized water on an organized and supported ride, I would have never worried about having enough water. As Buelito said, I don't think we will get lost or run out of water in CO. It sounds like your training is coming along quite well. It has been a while since I rode a century. As with your ride, I was one of the few who did the century in the Gran Fondo Texas. As I stopped at rest stops near the end of the route, I heard people telling the volunteers to get packed up. I finished earlier than some of those riding 87 mi. I suspect some of the riders finished without refreshments at rest stops.

See you and Buelito soon!
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Old 05-15-12, 06:48 AM   #25
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Most rides advertise when the rest stops will be open. If they weren't open at the published times, you've got a legitimate beef. OTOH, if you got there too late, then you can either suggest that thy stay open longer (which may require making a case that you were traveling at an average speed,) or either start earlier or do the shorter route.
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