Okay - before you go and start ragging on me about being sour grapes - take this for what it is. It's just a little pokin fun at what I see as absurd in an otherwise very fun activity.
I have come to find that for my tastes - large organized rides are such a mixed bag.
I do really like the comraderie of them. So many people are just plain stoked to be out with a few thousand of their best friends. It's actually possible to make a friend or two that will last beyond the end of the event.
I'm sorta luke warm on the aid stations. There are usually too many for my needs and the food options are sometimes bizarre but usually just sorta silly. I once did the Buena Vista Century and they served steak burritos at the 60 mile mark. That goes in the bizarre category. Yeah, I ate one - what the heck. Years ago I did the Copper Triangle with CO Heart Cycle ...they ran out of water about 50 miles into it at the Tennessee Pass station. That's just plain silly considering that the Copper Triangle is super easy to self support. Last year someone stole all the gel packs from each of the 6 aid stations from the TBP ride. That's probably about 15K worth of gel packs. Sounds like an episode straight from the Sopranos to me. Here's an exception ...One one leg of the Moab Skinny Tire Fest they served a Thai bowl. Now that was awesome. It was tasty and had good cycling ingredients for a 60 mile ride. Go figure, the Moab Skinny Tire Festival is a class act indeed. Although, I could understand if Thai isn't everyone's desire.
Bad behavior in mass groups of cyclists is a given. It's not every single moment from where I sit, but it is consistent to the point of being expected. Passing is the most commonly seen egregious behavior. When there are seven different speeds of cyclists in one spot - then sure enough there will be seven lanes each passing the slower one on their right (most of the time they at least will pass on the right - but not always.) I've also seen folks who will pass and slow down once they get in front of you. Then there's the passer who will cross his rear wheel into your front wheel. Hey it's to be expected when you put so many people in a room together. It's sorta like a general admission Rolling Stones concert but without the passing of the joint. Maybe that's what we need - a joint to pass. Oh, and I have to admit that I'm as guilty of the next guy. It's just simply part of the dynamic when there's a large mass of people of differing abilities. Kinda like traffic in Hong Kong - controlled chaos.
The money... the money is another ridiculous part of it. How ironic that we'd pony up a few hundred bucks to ride public roads with a few thousand other wingnuts. What's the money for? ....Ambulances and State Patrol - the two things I just rather avoid all together. Okay, I know that there's other stuff. But most rides I know are pretty easy to self support. So the other stuff is often superfluous.
All in all - it's sorta like a swarm of locusts. Kinda neat to experience.
Organized rides I like:
Santa Fe Century - < 20 bucks and off you go.
Moab Skinny Tire Festival - not cheap, but very, very well done. Are you listening TE?
Iron Horse Classic - Beat the train from Durango to Silverton. And they close the Million Dollar Highway to boot. Very, very cool.
Any organized ride that consists of hooking up with a few friends.
What are some of your favs?