Charity rides getting too crowded?

Discussion in 'The Bike Cafe' started by Chance3290, May 16, 2005.

  1. Chance3290

    Chance3290 New Member

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    Yesterday,I rode the Tour de Cure in the Metro Atlanta area and I noticed a few things and wanted to see if anyone else notices that same. Not just of Tour de Cure, but any large ride, usually with SAG support.
    First, at the start, all the people who KNOW that they will only go 10mph max, will make their way to the front of the bunch waiting to start. Then you have to fight your way clear once you get going.
    Second, after the start, people just seem to cruise along, 3, 4, 5 abreast, forcing anyone wanting to pass to get into the on-coming lane to go around. This also causes cars to get stuck behind these groups and causes everyone behind them to breath in the exhaust fumes from the cars.
    Next, people riding alone will ride to the left of the lane (U.S. type, driving on the right side lanes.) instead of staying to the right so others can pass. (BUT, to their defense, most Metro Atlanta motor vehicle drivers also stay in the left lane-its some kind of birth defect that makes them do this.:mad: )
    And, for a lot of riders the answer to "On Your Left" is: "What's on my left?":confused: And this usually applies to the riders mentioned above.
    Finally, the 'go-fast' types don't even bother with "On your left." So as you're trying to break away from the slow ones in the front, you have to be careful not to run into an unannounced 'go-fast' coming up from behind.
    Well, there's my vent for the morning. What are your thoughts?
     
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  2. Eden

    Eden New Member

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    It's not exactly a charity ride, but I've been doing one of the nations largest rides for several years now. I think only the RAGBRAI is bigger. Its called the STP (Seattle to Portland) bicycle ride. 2 days (1 if you choose), 200 miles and its pretty amazing. It sounds like some of the charity rides could take some tips from the organizers.

    Registration is limited to 800 (whoops I meant 8,000) riders - this is still a lot of people, in 2 days, over 200 miles if you look in front of yourself, behind yourself you never lose sight of other cyclists. Pretty incredible

    Riders start in small waves of about 30 to 50 people. The riders that are planning to ride in one day start earliest as they need the extra time and are usually the fastest riders.

    Until the ride gets out of the city and past the first rest stop (this breaks things up quite a bit) the major intersections have traffic cops directing traffic - be nice and thank them!

    These steps seem control things pretty well. Even so, the first 25 miles are pretty crowded and you just have to go with the flow -so do the cars hah! The first rest stop breaks things up pretty well and after that the "big" hill does the rest to string everyone out better.
     
  3. DiabloScott

    DiabloScott New Member

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    I did the Tour de Cure in Napa (1600 riders total) and it was very well run. Of course with the 100 mile riders there aren't too many cruising along at 10mph. They staggered the starts of the 100, 50, 25, and 10 mile rides and it worked out pretty well. The fast 100 milers were passing the slower 50 milers in the last 10 miles - they might have done some route changes to prevent that but it wasn't that big of an issue.

    The whole idea of a mass start for this many people is insane though - even in waves. Most of the centuries I do are just show and go. What time you start is up to you and anytime after registration opens and you get your wristband or whatever. I think the Tour de Cure people like to have a photo opportunity and give everyone a pep talk at the start line.

    Now with STP everyone is already registered and with RAGBRAI registration is "optional" but there's hardly any cars. Those are both different animals than your basic charity ride or club century.
     
  4. Eden

    Eden New Member

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    I realized I left a zero off of my last post STP has 8,000 riders :D not 800, that's a bit of a difference.
    The start is open a bit between 4:45am and 7:30am, but with 8,000 people they still have to stagger the starters.
     
  5. Chance3290

    Chance3290 New Member

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    Eden, my ride did have blocked major intersections, but still had a lot of cars on the route. What bugs me is the riders that stay 3 or 4 abreast in the left lane, even while going around corners or over hills. Then if a car is trying to pass, they have to go into on-coming traffic.

    And, being a cop, I agree 100% about thanking the guy or gal that's standing out in the sun (or in our case, the pouring rain) stopping traffic.
    One exception on our ride, an officer pulled her car across two lanes of traffic and simply stuck her hand out the window to stop traffic. It was a divided highway. We were lucky to have someone with us that yelled for us all to stop as a car came from the other direction. That cop didn't get a "thank you," but I believe a few people gave her a modified Vulcan salute.
    Diabloscott, we had staggered starts. And yes, a lot of people riding our 100k course were just strolling along at 10mph.
    On most of these rides its the same for the first 5-10 miles or so. I think having a police car, with working PA system, cruise the course and call out instructions or violations, such as: RIDERS! NO MORE THAN TWO ABREAST. Or STAY TO THE RIGHT.

    I know I won't stop riding for charity. But maybe we can make it better, and safer.

    Hearing 16,000 cleats clicking in for a good cause must really sound good.
     
  6. artmichalek

    artmichalek New Member

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    From what I've seen at a lot of charity rides, the registration materials don't include any information about safe riding practices beyond, "helmets are required". The reason a lot of faster riders don't call out when passing is because they've seen too many people react by swerving to the left.
     
  7. Eden

    Eden New Member

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    I think with STP the fact that it has been happening for 26 years helps too. The communities along the way know exactly when the ride is and to expect to be overrun by 8,000 bicycles. They've taken it in stride and even learned to enjoy it. The midpoint communites can raise a lot of money putting riders up in churches, schools and private homes. If your charity rides continue with regularity the kinks will get worked out, the riders, the orgainizers, the communities will all get better at it.

    Cascade's posted policy
    Rules of the Road
    All participants are asked to stop for every red light and stop sign, yield to traffic at intersections, to speak up when passing and to ride in single file. Riders are asked to limit pacelines to seven and to take responsibility for their group. Likewise, riders should always ask before joining a paceline. Group Health STP is not a race. Local and State police will be on the course and will be writing tickets to those cyclists who break the law. Remember that cyclists who disobey the rules of the road give all cyclists a bad name.
     
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