Evaluating Organized Rides

How do you evaluate an organized century ride? What’s the most
important facet of the experience for you? Is there something that says
either “I can’t wait to do this next year” or “Never again.”?

Publicity – I like it when there’s a good web site. The more info, the more I
like it. Tell me about the route, the history of the ride. Describe the
food. Let me read some reviews. Post some photographs. Where is my
registration fee going? What does the tee short look like?

Registration
– It’s the 21st century. Figure out a way for me to register online. I
don’t remember how to address an envelope and I sure don’t have any
stamps.

Pre-ride
Please have plenty of bathrooms. If the ride is big, it’s nice to have
a chance to pick up a rider packet ahead of time. If parking is an
issue, have someone directing traffic. A nice spread of breakfast food
is always a plus. If riders have to wear a number, please have safety
pins. Make the riders’ meeting short and sweet.

Route
– Do I need to say “offer shorter routes too”? Make sure your cue
sheets are accurate! Ride the route on a bicycle, don’t just drive it
in a car. There’s only one way to evaluate road conditions. It involves
pedaling. Make sure you let folks know how much climbing is involved.
Try to space your rest stops evenly. For some riders “just a few miles”
of riding on a bust highway is a non-starter. Of course the more scenic
the route can be, the better it is. I don’t use convenience stores and
I don’t really like going though small towns, but some folks like both.

Rest stops
– The more you have at the rest stops, the more I like it. Bring on the
food. I know the books say to never eat anything on a ride that you
haven’t eaten in training but I have a cast iron stomach. Having said
that, some folks want the typical stuff, so have some bananas,
quartered oranges etc. If you make sports drinks, read the directions.
At most rides the stuff is usually too weak. I usually stop two or
three times in a century so try to be consistent in your spacing.
You’ll get no complaints from most folks for having too many chances to
refuel and use the bathroom.

Post ride
– You get extra points for good food. Having showers (that work and
are clean) is a big plus. I love having a spot to sit down and rehash
the ride with other participants.

SAG
– I’ve never had to use a SAG for anything more than giving my cold
weather clothing a ride back to the start point. Still, put a working
phone number out there. I get really mad when I get told to call 911 if
I have an emergency. I often travel long distances to participate in
century rides and it isn’t like I can call Aunt Millie for help. The
more I see the SAG vehicles, the more I feel like yu have your stuff
together. You care (sob) you really care!

Extras
– Having a photographer (even better when the pictures are available
for free), free camping the night before an event, on site
entertainment for spouses who do rides of different lengths