The Paceline Podcast 173

The Paceline Podcast 173

Selene and Patrick have been away riding. For Selene, last weekend was the nearly annual Bicycling Magazine Fall Classic. Unfortunately, even in organized rides, things don’t always go according to plan. Or the advertising. So what do you do when the aid stations don’t provide enough aid?

Patrick spent eight days riding down the coast of California with the Arthritis Foundation in the California Coast Classic—which would be why we missed recording last week. (It’s all his fault.) He reports that it was a ride unlike any he’s ever attended before. And as beautiful as it is to ride down the California Coast, especially through Big Sur, the scenery isn’t what made the ride so great.



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Show links:

California Coast Classic

Bicycling Magazine Fall Classic

Ocoee Baseline

Rebound: Train Your Mind To Bounce Back Stronger From Sports Injuries

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  1. Jim

    Maybe it is my innate cynicism, but even in races (and definitely in charity rides/events) I carry my small ID/essentials pouch. Small plastic zipseal style pouch with old drivers license, credit card, and $20,$10,$5 bills and 5x$1 bills. Never know when you need to hitch a ride home and want to thank the people monetarily, stop at a gas station (or Fall Festival, etc) for supplies or who knows what else. And the $1 bills make great tire boots. Fits in any jersey pocket and you never know it’s there.

    Also, Selene is right about so many people don’t know what goes on behind the scenes at events as far as prep and planning and execution of an event. They don’t know what they are paying for (permitting, emergency support, course marking, route scouting, aid stations, insurance, timing, back up timing, HAM radio communication in remote areas, etc) in addition to the customer facing details, so frequently they get upset at how much they are paying compared to just riding it on their own. In my experience, what separates the good event producers from the mediocre ones is the contingency planning. Most event producers with some experience can make an event look good when stuff is going right. The good ones have plans in place for when things don’t (because they will go wrong) or have a strong enough teams and connections to adapt when stuff isn’t. The mediocre ones just start making excuses for why stuff went wrong and expecting paid customers to understand. Bad event producers don’t even get it right when stuff is going right 🙂

    I think part of the issue / trend is that so many paying customers don’t really know what they are paying for or what goes on in the background, so event producers are driven to putting more effort into the customer facing elements like fancy website, bands on the course, t-shirts, finisher’s / participation medals, etc at the expense of the fundamentals that many customers don’t see. My analogy is a restaurant putting effort into fancy decorations or other nice to have items, but doing it at the expense of effort on kitchen cleanliness. You can get away with that and make customers happy for a while, but eventually it comes back to bite you.

    The good ones (restaurants and event producers) get the customer facing items, the fundamentals and the contingency planning right. And that is worth paying for.

    1. Selene Yeager

      You bring up outstanding points. Having been behind the scenes at many organized rides, stuff ALWAYS goes wrong! But the best organizers know how to cover up the slip-ups quickly so most riders barely notice if they notice at all. Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. Robert

    Rode the Fall Classic with a friend this year and in the previous Rodale incarnation in 2017- what was obvious to us was that the magazine and Rodale had put a lot of volunteer effort into the old race, and that was lacking this year unfortunately. In 2017 there was a Saturday shakeout ride, with a little beer mixer after in the velodrome, and there were plenty of magazine staff in evidence, as well as on the ride. Part of the ride in essence was pitched as a way to connect the magazine to its readers, and to be good stewards of cycling in the community. So maybe that comes back next year but I and my friend did not see evidence of any staff on the ride. Seems an opportunity missed.
    As to the snafus- lucky we had a good day with moderate temps and dry weather- if the heat had come as we have had this early fall in the NE lots of people would have been in trouble for liquids. They dodged a bullet. I get that you have to carry your spares for yourself and offer to those around you if they need, but whatever happened to crater the rest stops seems like poor planning. Also the signage near the end seemed mangled and we were in a headscratching group and had to crowdsource the solution!- I think that course markings are very important because I really don’t want to be looking at GPS or my phone during a ride, I want to ride like I know where I am going and not everyone has a decent head unit. (Plus the GPS file had changed evidently the night before so if you didn’t download the update or your gps craps out what are you going to fall back on, I guess printed directions….)
    I take your point that late registration makes it difficult to plan ahead- we registered on Tuesday prior, but work/weather made that a necessity. So I’m not sure how you solve that for regular people who have to plan around real life.
    Overall my expectation is as Patrick said, to ride new roads and be supported – the support is key because by taking the prettier road less travelled you likely are not running across gas stations etc. There were two amazing general stores and we hit one for a full on mexican coke pit stop around mile 75.
    Not sure I would do the ride again unfortunately, altho the roads are some of the best, there are other alternatives, the spring classics put on my Kermesse Sports- “Flèche Buffoon” and “Hell of Hunterdon” feature the same roads (albeit in probably nastier weather) with excellent on course support for a small field. Bonus points to them for getting WaWa Hogies at the finish line for 400!
    Also the NJ Gran Fondo in past years has had the most amazing rest stops with home baked good and one year had pizza near the end- my mind was blown:)!

    1. Selene Yeager

      You are correct in that there were not as many staff members there. I was in attendance for the 90, and I know a number of my colleagues did the 50 and a few were in the 25, but it wasn’t the same organized effort where we met everyone Saturday and were out in full force Sunday. I agree that that format gave the ride a special element that was missing this year. I’m a big fan of the Kermesse Spring Classics! Maybe I’ll see you out there next year!

  3. Fausto

    I have done the 50 mile ride every year since they started. The first year the course marking was bad and a lot of people got lost and rode extra miles. A few years later they had issues with food and water but it was only the one year and we raided the Landis General Store a mile up the road. What was nice about Bicycling was that you could tell Peter Flax or Bill Strickland what they needed to improve upon. They were always receptive and seemed interested in where their ride compared to other events we all rode. The food truck years grew into the best event of the year. A total notch above any other organized event, people loved hanging out.
    I had no issues with food on the 50 route, saw a good assortment of fruit, pbj, Honey Stingers. I didn’t like that there was no mechanical support at any of them, usually there is a local shop to fix or adjust. Since I was on a timeline to get back home I skipped the post ride food and hit the WaWa for the hour drive home. As a regular at the Friday night races I have eaten at the snack bar plenty, but after having the food trucks it would be a disappointment to anyone.
    The disappointment is that it puts the Magazine in a bad light since their name is on it but they are not involved in the same way. It also pushes the locals to skip it next year since “why pay for our local roads” when they had a bad experience in 2019, the ride shrinks. What sucks is many of us will ride the Bucks Cty Covered Bridge Ride in a few weeks and it is huge, put on by a local club and has so much food you could gain weight on the ride. No fancy promoter, no expensive entry, no big bells and whistles, but shows how if locals can do it, promoters should be able to do it better.
    Last, never ridden Battenkill but always have heard good things about the support and organization, hopefully next year the Fall Classic returns to it’s local glory. Does not need the fancy Gran Fondo extras, just great basics.

    1. Selene Yeager

      All your points are spot on! I did hear the aid stations were sorted out sometime after the debacle with the early waves of 90 mile riders. I forgot about the lack of mechanical support. That’s a real issue, I think. So many local bike shops are always happy to help out–and help is often needed! We’ll see what happens in the future, but you can be sure I sent my feedback along to the powers that be!

  4. shiggy

    DKXL has a $150 entry fee.
    For a self supported, self navigated, self rescue event.
    Coming from randonneuring and bikepacking that is tough to justify

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