Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Experience plus math, equal the painful truth

I believe that I have mentioned in the past that when I'm not riding my bike in a bike rally, I'm helping Bikin' Mike Keel produce a bike rally. Each year, Mike produces four or five bike rides in the Dallas area. My job in putting on these rides is to supervise the course. My official title is Route Coordinator. I can tell you're very impressed.

The main responsibility of a Route Coordinator, (notice how I capitalize Route Coordinator to make it seem more impressive), is to prepare the course for the ride. That is, I'm the guy who paints the arrows on the pavement, and/or places the signs out on the course with the arrows to tell you which way to go. There's a little more to it than that, which we'll get into in a later post, but far and away, marking the course is my biggest responsibility.

In the world of Route Coordinators, there is one unforgiving reality, and two overriding guidelines that we live by.

The One Unforgiving Reality:
No matter how well you mark a route, if someone gets lost, it's your fault.

The Two Overriding Guidelines:
1. When marking a course, go in with the attitude that you've got to idiot-proof the course.
2. Just when you think you've idiot-proofed the course, they'll build a better idiot.

Please don't think that I am picking on cyclist, by pointing out that a certain percentage of them are idiots. It is my personal opinion, that 5% to 10% of the general population displays certain idiotic tendencies. Any group that you look at closely, will reflect that 5 to 10 percent Rate of Idiocy, or ROI as I like to call it. If you look at your local police department, you'll probably find a 5 to 10% ROI. If you sat down and talked to the faculty at your local high school, again, there would probably be a 5 to 10% ROI. A good example here in the Dallas area would be the Dallas ISD School Board. Actually, I'm guessing that they'd probably skew a little higher on their ROI, but you get the idea. There's idiots everywhere, and cyclist at a bike ride are no different.

So it is for this 5% to 10% that we, as Route Coordinators have to spend the majority of our time planning for.

We have to plan for the Collin Classic cyclist 3 years ago, who rode right past the right turn sign, that the other 2200 cyclist all saw, at the Northern most point of the course. That cyclist rode north for another hour and half, without seeing another cyclist, without seeing another route marker, and without seeing a break point, and still didn't know that she was lost. An hour and a half north of that turn, and your almost into Oklahoma. The only reason that she knew she was lost was when the Sheriff's Deputy stopped her and asked if she was part of the Collin Classic bike ride. The kicker of this was, that when our SAG driver went to pick her up, it was then that we discovered that she was a bandit. For those of you who don't know what a bandit is, a bandit is someone who rides in a ride, using the police support that the ride producer pays for, using the break points that the ride producer provided, but not bothering to pay the entry fee for the bike ride. She just showed up, started the ride, got lost, and figured she was entitled to use the SAG support that the ride producer had provided. Somehow, it was our responsibility to come and get her.

We have to plan for the Collin Classic rider two years ago, who decided that she needed to SAG in at the first break point of the 55 mile course. She climbed into the back of a SAG truck about 9:30am that morning, and proceeded to ride around in the back of that truck for the next 7 hours. Apparently, she didn't realize that when the truck got back to the start/finish area, she should get out. As she explained it to me later, quite loudly, we should have told her to get out of the truck.

We also have to plan for the Tour Dallas rider last year who finished the ride, laid his bike down next to his truck, and soon became distracted by a phone call. In fact, he got so distracted by that phone call, that he jumped in his truck and drove off, leaving his bike laying on the ground in the parking lot. By the time he realized that he had forgotten his bike and drove back to the parking lot, his bike was gone. He made his way down to the Communication Center, where we Route Coordinator's like to hang out, and explained what had happened exactly as I have explained it here to you. He wasn't even embarrassed. Like everybody just drives off and leaves their bike laying on the ground. He also seemed to think that it was our responsibility to locate his lost bike. Why he thought this, I don't know. I expressed the appropriate level of concern, all the while fighting like mad not to roll my eyes at him and pat him on the head like some poor idiotic dog. I started to take his personal information from him, so that if anyone turned in the bike, we could get in touch with him.

When I asked him for his rider number, he made the surprising confession that he too, was a bandit. Again, he said it without the slightest bit of embarrassment, like it's just crazy to actually pay to ride in one of these bike rides. I wanted to tell him that unless that bicycle fell from the sky and landed on my head, the odds of me finding it were pretty slim, because I wasn't going to invest whole lot of time in looking for a bandit's lost bike. I also wanted to tell him that he better find that bike before anyone associated with the ride did, because if we found it first, I was going to sell it to the first person who would give me $30 for it, to cover the cost of the registration that he didn't pay.

I wanted to tell him both of those things, but I didn't. I was polite and I pretended to be very sympathetic towards his plight. As a fellow cyclist, of course I feel sympathy for any cyclist who's lost his bike. Especially a card carrying member of the 5 to 10%.

And besides, I'm a Route Coordinator. I have to plan for these sort of things.

Peace out.....Nearly Famous Fred

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