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Organizing a ride

Old 01-01-15, 07:24 AM
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Organizing a ride

Good morning and Happy New Year!

A friend of mine, who owns a local coffee shop/cafe that is popular with the local cycling groups, and I want to organize a charity ride. We have a few questions and hope they can be answered here.

--Legality/liability regarding injury along the course. What would our liability be?

--Proof of money getting to the charity. What's the best way to prove this?

--Route distance/terrain. What are good mileages/terrain types?

I think that is it. If anyone has any suggestions, please chime in!

Thanks--ROB

I cross posted this in the Charity ride section as well
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Old 01-01-15, 09:52 AM
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I'm not a lawyer, so I can't speak on the legal issues, but at the very least, I would expect some sort of waiver for the participants saying that they understand they are riding on public roads at their own risk.

For distance, depending on your audience and terrain, 30-50 miles is a good starting point. 10 miles or less if you expect to have a lot of new riders and families. Keep the terrain on the mild side so it is fun and not punishment. Century and Metric Century routes only if you expect to have a significant number of experienced riders. When I did an MS150, the century riders were a tiny fraction of the total.

To prove that the money got to where you said, you could have a presentation at the end of ride party to a representative of the charity. Or, if you do it at a later date, issue a press release to local media, including a picture of you presenting the check.
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Old 01-01-15, 10:14 AM
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I've ridden a few organized rides though not nearly as many as some people here. I can tell you a few things to avoid. First, imagine yourself good but not quite as good a rider as you are. Now ask yourself whether the imagined you would like to ride those particular roads and in that order. Would you intentionally save the 400ft climb or 12% grade for the 45-mile point in a metric century? Would you choose to ride rt.n on your own and in that direction at that time of day? Where might you get lost if you didn't know the roads already? For example, if a road changes name should the route instructions indicate a "go onto..." even if there is no sign to tell you about it? As you are riding would you like to know where the next rest stop might be? Could you bail out easily if necessary, and will you be aware of that option so you don't have to worry?

I've seen all these errors on organized rides, most on the same ride even.
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Old 01-01-15, 11:01 AM
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Any suggestions for printing out cue sheets? I tried using MapMyRide to print sheets previously and it was awful
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Old 01-01-15, 11:11 AM
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Sorry, it’s rainy, so I’ve got time on my hands, so you get The Essay.

Typically, charity rides are organized by the charity being benefitted.One of the advantages of doing this is that gives them a large group of non-riding volunteers to be out on the course for the ride.Or, as an alternative, our local bike club does a charity ride each year- but the club itself has the manpower to pull it off.For a business to organize it without having a bunch of volunteers available could get tricky.

It is possible to LOSE money on a ride like that!If you have the ride all set up, order umpteen thousand tee-shirts, then it rains on Ride Day, you’re potentially screwed.So how you work this: you make money on average and you do the ride every year.Then if you have one or two bad years, they’re offset by the good.Also, on any ride, it’ll take time for word to get out that you have a good course, good support, etc. (assuming you do!), so you can expect the ride to grow year by year.If you just do a one-and-done type thing, it’ll be harder to make a good profit.There’s got to be a learning curve on organizing everything, so it’s probably a lot easier the second or third time around.

Given the number of pre-registrations you have, how many same-day registrations can you expect?That is a sixty four dollar question, and the answer is:You use your past experience based on doing the same ride at the same time every year.Which, of course, makes it hard for doing the ride the first year.But those numbers determine how many T-shirts you order, how many portapotties you order, how much food and drink you need, how many volunteers you need, how much parking you need, etc.

Having a route laid out by non-riders is a bad idea, as they are not necessarily aware of issues like road smoothness or traffic issues and what seems to them like a fine route may be terrible to actually ride.

Some people love hills and seek them out, but a lot of people hate hills and would just as soon avoid them.If you have a diehard cyclist plan the course, you’ll have the hill-lover working in every hill he can, and then all your riders will hate you forever.One of the biggest charity rides in Texas just happens to be one of the flattest centuries around, too, and I don’t think that is coincidence.The exception would be if you had a particular notable climb that no other local charity ride went over.Even there, it would help if shorter distance options avoided that climb.

If a coffee shop is organizing the ride, you have the potential to have a really cool T-shirt for the ride, so make that design an integral part of the work, not an afterthought.

On the insurance end of things, the coffee shop needs to talk to their insurance agents and see what is required.A waiver for sure, but a waiver doesn’t remove all liability, either.

Consider whether another charity ride is actually needed in your area.Here in the Dallas area, during the spring and summer, there’s pretty much a big rally every weekend somewhere.So if someone needs to raise money, another one is okay, but it’s not any loss to the cycling community if it doesn’t happen, either.A smaller town with zero rallies, it might be more beneficial just to have it. It may be better for a business to sponsor an existing rally rather than to start a new one.

Look into the cost of having police man intersections.I’ve seen rides with none of that, rides with every stop sign/stop light manned, where riders could roll through all the intersections.Do NOT have police at the first 10 intersections, then assume riders will all just stop at the redlight at the 11[SUP]th[/SUP] intersection!Of course, getting this all lined up makes the ride better, but adds to the fixed cost that you need to cover regardless of number of riders. It's a real drag to get out riding and have to start waiting on 3-minute lights.

I rode the 16 mile option on one charity ride on my Worksman cargo tricycle.I took 2 hours, and I PASSED people while doing it.So yes, there will be people riding that average less than 8 mph.

The first charity ride I ever did, they had some other activities in connection with it, but still, it looked like they had about a thousand T-shirts and about a hundred participants.Weather was fine, that was just poor planning.

I did one ride that normally has about 2,000 participants, and it rained on ride day, and they had about 200 people riding.A month or two later, I was at a large local bike shop, and they were selling surplus ride T-shirts for $3 or so.If they get enough non-refundable pre-registrations, they can avoid actually losing money, but I don’t know how the percentages work out on that.

You can organize a ride and NOT benefit a charity.That’s called being a promoter.There are a lot of bike races that work that way.The main thing there is to be honest about what you’re doing, and don’t try to make it look like a charity ride if it’s not.

In this area, the “standard” charity ride is usually 100k with shorter options.There’s only a few that are actually centuries, and you feel sort of cheated if the longest route is less than 100k. Rest stops are normally 10 miles apart or so. Length of the shorter options will vary depending on what the roads are- typically 16 miles, 25 miles, 40 miles, 100k- something like that.

The ideal route is sort of a ladder shape, where you go out one way, come back another way, and depending on what distance you’re doing, you cut across at different points.It’s advantageous if multiple distances can use the same rest stops.Out-and-backs are not as much fun, but let you re-use rest stops. It should be okay for people to be able to switch to a shorter route while they're riding, and a course that allows that is advantageous. That'll save you having to haul them in.

It helps to have support from local bike shops for their sag support.

A few of the local rides are billed as “races”, and may actually give out prizes to the winners, etc, but they’re not normal licensed bike races, and 95% of the participants are just there for the ride.Better practice is to just bill it as a “ride, not a race” in the first place.
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Old 01-01-15, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by RobE30
Any suggestions for printing out cue sheets? I tried using MapMyRide to print sheets previously and it was awful
Use cue sheets for randonneuring and club rides. For charity rides, use pavement markings AND roadside signs AND people standing out there at each turn pointing which way to go.

Cities, counties, or the highway department may object to pavement markings. Roadside signs can be removed or rotated if left unattended.
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Old 01-01-15, 11:53 AM
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No legal expert, and you've already got a very full explanation from StephenH...

My $.02...

The best rides that I've been on are ones where you are handed a cue sheet, maybe an identifying number, and told you are on your own. Suggest a couple local flavor stops along the way, and a decent watering hole at the end. No timing, no road markings, no sag.

Getting a couple dozen experienced riders together where each puts in $20 or so, with $10 returned in raffle style prizes (maybe gift certs from your LBS), should generate some $'s for your charity. This is a good way to start small and get the ride part of the organizing under your belt before doing anything bigger. Not enough money that way to create "expectations", but some commitment from the riders so that they want to stick around at the end for a prize, beer, and BS'ing. Have whoever holds the $'s gets a waiver signed from each rider, and a representative from the charity shows at the post ride location to accept the $'s. Make sure everyone knows the $'s are liquidated by the end of it, so they leave wanting to do it again.
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Old 01-01-15, 12:10 PM
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One thing I've found quite useful is having the turns online well before the event. That way I can download them, track them out to create a route manually in DeLorme Street Atlas or Topo NAm. I can then use that software to print up route instructions. From Topo NAm I can also dump the route onto my GPS which I can then follow while on the bike. One problem with route mileage-based instructions is that for various reasons as the ride progresses they correlate to the actual turns less well. An on-bike GPS makes that less of a problem, and lets me find my way home when we finally abandon the route all together.
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Old 01-01-15, 12:21 PM
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Rob - if you want some waivers, I can draw up something for you with limits of liability and indemnifications.

Here's the thing to understand...a waiver won't eliminate exposure to suits. Generally, waivers signed and handed out the day of an event are not worth much in court because the signee didn't have a chance to consult counsel. Regardless of what the waiver says, it is unlikely to protect you from your gross negligence. Your best defense is assumption of risk on part of the participant, and the waiver can help establish assumption of risk. You have a stronger argument if the participant is informed of the route ahead of time.

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Old 01-01-15, 12:58 PM
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@StephenH, good info. Thank you.

I was planning on a 100k, 50k and a family/beginner friendly 20k ride. On the 100k, I'm considering adding a gravel/dirt road option. It's my personal favorite route, no huge hills, just quiet back roads and decent scenery
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Old 01-01-15, 01:07 PM
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I started a charity ride 11 years ago. I canceled one year due to a bridge being shut down. I went to the local Lions club and they sponsored it, and now I am a Lion. They might be interested in sponsoring the ride for you.

I would do a metric and a 32 mile ride.

Contact your local convention and visitors bureau. They might be willing to help.

Stay small to start with. Volunteers are the hardest to come up with.

Good luck.
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Old 01-01-15, 01:21 PM
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Also read the "open letter to Ride Directors" and associated stuff here:
Ride director Index
Also, look up some of the reviews on this site and you can get an idea of what people like and don't like about charity rides. Keep in mind, this is mostly north Texas, large metro area being Dallas-Fort Worth, and some of that may vary regionally, etc.
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Old 01-01-15, 01:34 PM
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Wow, thanks for all the info guys. Aaron, I'll get in touch in the near future regarding waivers.
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Old 01-01-15, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by RobE30
Wow, thanks for all the info guys. Aaron, I'll get in touch in the near future regarding waivers.
No problem Rob.
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