My buddy Miles who is an uber cycler rode a century at the Tour of Hope, or Tour de Hope, this weekend which is in the nearby town of Marion. He’s wrote an entertaining report on his blog which I recomend reading. I had planned on doing this ride all year, but as the time approached I knew I wasn’t going to. I can’t say I’m not in shape, I’m in the best shape of my life, I’m faster and fitter on the bike then I have ever been. So what’s the deal?
It could be laziness, to do this ride I’d have to get up early and haul my bikes over to Marion, but I’ve been getting up almost every saturday and riding all year. My friend Terry likes to leave at 5 AM, and we drive all over the place and ride pretty tough rides.
It could be an anti-social attitude, but that’s not it either, I’ve went out of my way to try and recruit riders, invite people to rides, I do a week long social ride, I’ve spent a bunch of time messing with a bike club, I’m a pretty socialable guy I think.
That leaves with the honest to god truth, I’m cheap. I didn’t want to pay the 35 dollars for the ride. When I pay for something I want to get my money’s worth. Sometimes I want to get my money’s worth when I haven’t even paid a dime. Ayn Rand would call me a Mooch, but who cares what she says. Pay rides are never a good deal, the only time you get your money’s worth is if you don’t pay, which I have done on a few occasions. Yes most of them are for charity, but I’m not that charitable of a person.
Why are they not a good deal, first off they are providing you with access to roads you allready have free access to. Secondly, many offer a bare minimum in the form of food and shwag, a few cookies, some fly covered bananas, gatorade if you’re lucky, and a crappy hand drawn route map that has been photocopied so many times that it can’t be read. That leads us to the route, usually at some point in the past some body scouted out a nice route for the pay ride, from that point onward the route will never change, why would I want to pay year after year to ride the exact same route, sure it saves the organizers a lot of work but what are we paying for.
Next on my list is the T-shirt, I have a drawer full of ride T-shirts, but back in the day it seemed like rides were much more reasonably priced, like for 25 dollars you could register at the ride, get a T-shirt and enjoy much better Sag stops, may just be me though? Finally when you finish the ride you arrive at a deserted parking lot without a soul around other then a few folks loading up their bikes to go home, for what most rides charge these days you should at least get a little meal, maybe a snack and a soda, at the very least you should get a congratulations and thanks for doing our ride.
Now I didn’t do the Tour de Hope, and I’m not accusing it of being a ripoff, maybe it did everything perfect and I would have loved it. There is one ride that I’ve done which does everything I’ve talked about, there’s no wonder why it has grown so much in such a short time, while most rides get smaller every year. The Tour de Corn in East Praire Missouri was the best value I’ve ever got on a ride. The ride cost 20-25 dollars, T-shirts were optional and were like 17, but they were beautifully designed each year by a local artist and worth every penny. I got a great bag of freebies, stickers, product samples. They have a Friday night party for riders who arrive early, they have a mass start with the National Anthem, they have a ride marshal. Excellent rest stops, with lots of food and fresh corn on the cob. There is a full day and night of events planned the day of the ride. East Praire really rolls out the red carpet.
The Tour de Corn is a special event and all the planning requires the whole community to get involved. Even if a ride doesn’t have all that support there is a few things they could do that would draw me in. One, offer “bareback” shirtless options for a cheaper ride. I don’t need anymore ride shirts. Offer family and group plans so I get a discount for bringing more people. Bring the price down more in line with the service they are offering, 20-25 dollars is plenty. Offer a semi-competetive timed ride option, all that it would require is for a couple of people with clip boards to stand around at the end and check people off, that would give me a reason to want to ride the same ride year after year. Throw in something cooky, like the weirdest bike there gets an award, strangest dressed rider. In short make it funner and more worth my time and money.
Thank you and good night.