The Tour de Corn is coming up in a few weeks, its one of my favorite cycling events in the area, in fact it’s also one of the largest events in the area. The Tour de Corn enters its 15th year in 2016 and it has grown just about every year. Someone posed the question to me recently, what’s one of the best time’s you’ve had at an endurance event? I have to say some of my favorite moments have been riding the Tour de Corn. It’s just such a good event, that it’s hard not to like it.
What makes the Tour de Corn good? Well first off it feels like a real event. Endurance events that charge to use the open and free road are a bit of a problem for me. What exactly am I getting for my money? Especially when it’s common now for the event to cost 20-40 dollars and the T-shirt costs extra. Seriously how many event T-shirts does a person need anyway. All too often I’ve paid for rides and felt like I was screwed by poorly marked routes, horrible SAG stops, and lack of pizzazz. Sure these rides are often for a charity, but shouldn’t the riders get something for their money.
I did a ride once where the volunteers doing registration were rude, the ride had an open start from 7AM to 10AM, the route was barely marked, and the two available rest areas were a completely joke. I won’t say what ride this was, Beautiful Southern, but I hear that it’s much improved in recent years.
What that ride did wrong, the Tour de Corn does right. It’s held in a small Missouri town where the volunteers are genuinely friendly. They are glad to see everyone and the town really comes out to support the ride. It begins with a mass start. All rides should begin with a mass start. If you can’t make the mass start no problem, if you don’t like the crowd start early or later, but most of us like the excitement of hundreds of people all embarking at the same time. The ride begins with the National Anthem and usually a guest of honor, it’s just one more thing to make the ride seem like a honest to God event. Then it embarks with a parade out of town, it takes about 5 minutes or less but it’s really awesome. Many locals are there to cheer the riders on their way.
So Tour de Corn has pizzazz, but it also has great stops that are well stocked with goodies and spread out so you’re not waiting in line, they always have plenty of porta-johns for when nature calls as well.
One thing the Tour de Corn didn’t have a few years ago was enough volunteers to handle the volume of registration. It wasn’t really their fault though, they had 4 tables set up to register riders, but they underestimated the bump they would get from being featured in Bicycling magazine. They attracted hundreds more riders then they had the year before. They even ran out of rider numbers having only printed one thousand. The lines to get registered were huge and the ride had to be pushed back a bit to accommodate everyone.
In the days of old if you were serious about doing an event you mailed in a registration form before the event, this assured you a speedy and easy time registering, and usually got you a discount. In today’s world all events should offer an online solution to registering, a serivce like Event Brite makes it easy to find and register for events.
If more people registered online than huge crowds would be less of a hassle and everyone can have a better time. In fact one of my favorite things about the Tour de Corn is the huge number of riders it brings in, there’s always a pace line to hook up with. Once I connected with a small group of serious Triathletes, they were so serious that they refused to draft each other and instead rode in a strung out pace line 40 foot long. I tucked in behind the guy at the rear and soon we were cruising at 24 mph. One by one the other Tri-athletes began to slow up but the guy I was drafting keep getting faster. Going 27 mph was like warp speed compared to many of the cyclists around us.
Eventually I said, “Hey want me to pull for awhile?” The guy looked backed startled, he didn’t even realize I’d been drafting him for 5 miles.
“No, tri-athletes don’t draft,” he replied. He said he didn’t mind if I hung on though so I did.
Eventually I was feeling the strain of riding way, way faster then I usually do and after a slight rise I said, “Dang man, my heart rate just hit 170.”
The man laughed, “My heart rate just got up to 120.” That’s when I realized how out classed I really was, what was putting me in the red was barely getting this guy’s blood pumping. I was happy to see the first rest stop approaching and even happier when Mr. Triathlete kept on trucking while I wheeled in to try some of that delicious sweet corn.
The Tour de Corn is June 25th this year, don’t miss it!