Wednesday, August 19, 2009

pros and cons of large sponsored rides

since i just participated in a large sponsored ride, over 4000 riders maybe now is a time to talk about these rides and what they offer...

1. most times they are tons of fun and you get a chance to ride in other areas that you do not know, when i asked my son about sponsored rides, he said for him, in the beginning of his riding career, sponsored rides enabled him to ride 60-100 miles and not get lost, this was pre-GPS days for him,so he loved them, while now he shuns them as he has a GPS

2. clubs donate lots of money to good causes

3. you get the pleasure of support along the ride, potties and water

4. you can challenge yourself to do a Century when these sponsored rides are available, which is what i did last year by participating in the Seagull Century

so all of this is a good thing, but after a fatal accident on my ride on Sunday, I was forced to rethink the sponsored rides, so some down sides to a large ride, (also after a search on the Net i found many fatalies on sponsored rides involving cars and riders)......

1. more people on the roads than the roads can handle safely

2. cars forced to ride in the passing lane for long periods of time

3. many different levels of riding having to ride together, most bike clubs run rides every week but each level sticks together and they do not mix on the roads

4. very fast riders next to very slow riders

5. very bad riders next to very good riders

6. riders doing things that they never would if riding solo at home, crossing roads without looking, riding 5 and 6 abreast, riding faster than they do at home

So what to do. I just read on the Internet that in my county of Chester in Pennsylvania, that with government stimulus money, over 30 million dollars is being spent to redo all the curb cuts for the handicapped, the new cuts must have dimpled surfaces for the blind, this all coming about because in Erie Pa, someone sued the state of PA in regards to this matter and the result was the state had to redo the curb cuts, many many of these curb cuts are being put in places where there are NO sidewalks or if there are sidewalks, they are not handicap worthy sidewalks, but nonetheless, the lawsuit has forced this stupid waste of taxpayer money, and the state has to put curb cuts along highways etc where there are NO pedestrians

so what does this have to do with large sponsored rides

well this is the future i see, unless these bike clubs take steps to promote more safety on the rides, an eventual lawsuit being levied against a bike club

1.if a club wants to sponsor a ride with over 4000 riders, tons of support personnel is needed and not just at the rest stops, more folks at ALL intersections

2. possibly making pace lines forbidden

3. have folks sitting 100 feet or so ahead of dangerous turns with signs warning the riders

3. stagger starts possible

4. make several cues, one for A and B riders, one for C and D riders, with crossing points at the rest stops

While all of this sounds ridiculous to many, i do foresee a lawsuit down the road and these rides coming under huge scrutiny

what do you think?? these rides are hugely popular and are done all over the country but do you see local governments making some forced changes to these rides, and should they?? lawsuits down the road for these bike clubs??

angry local residents protesting the rides?? more police support being required??


Libby Maxim said...

got this from someone who did the CBM and another local ride.... good post by this cyclist..

Hey, Lib ...

Interesting blog this morning ... I too have been thinking about these sponsored rides ... although I only two under my belt, the Dog Daze involved my friend's injury and we all know the stories of the Covered Bridge.

I enjoy these rides immensely ... the pluses are certainly there ... longer rides, new areas, support, meeting new people, etc. Accidents are bound to happen, but people need to know both their own limitations and also be extremely aware of the limitations of those around them. We don't want either to cause avoidable problems. For my part, I'm a lousy climber, but I love to descend ... while I try to always go downhill alone, with a bit of distance away from anyone, a check of my own cyclocomputer revealed I went well over 30 mph at some points. While I feel comfortable doing so, I doubt my new-rider abilities justify such speed and I will be slowing down in the future. Imagine a crash at that speed!?!?!? ... I don't want to think about it.

The Covered Bridge is an inordinately large, and extremely popular event. I can see them having different routes for A/B, C/D and "family" riders ... flex start times ... even rides on different days, all which require tons more support than was evident on Sunday. LBC has a lot of logistical and organizational issues to address.

We rode the shorter course on the Dog Daze (a much smaller event) ride ... encountered very few riders ... surprisingly few cars ... and not too much support enroute. But my thinking is that, for sponsored rides in the future, I will plan to do the shorter route, and if I feel good after the first go-round, I'll just do it again ... netting the longer distance and perhaps a little easier overall ride and less crowding. That may have been the way to go in Lancaster. It doesn't solve the problems surrounding these events, but it will perhaps improve the enjoyment and safety of the ride for our group.

... just some thoughts

Libby Maxim said...

the suggestion of the shorter course does not always help as I did this once on a ride and was surrounded by families, children and very novice riders and it was actually worse, so again, the answers are not easy to come by on these popular rides