Sunday, January 30, 2011

You can't please everyone...

Change, by definition can be this: A transformation or transition from one state, condition, or phase to another:

Some welcome Change, others resist.

Now, let's try Perspective: The ability to perceive things in their actual interrelations or comparative importance.

The process for registering for the Horribly Hilly Hundreds is changing, evolving, transforming...

I've been volunteering and working with this bike event since it's inception, participating in various roles and becoming the director in 2005. In the past 8 years, many things have changed and evolved. But none of them have thickened my skin quite so much as the transition of registration.
The intent of a full lottery is that of 'fairness' and equal opportunity for a spot in the ride. Many comments come across my desk about the issues with on-line fills within minutes, one doesn't stand a chance if they're not at a high speed connected computer at the precise moment of opening, etc...

So, let's work on a feasible option to eliminate many of these concerns.

I'd like to say "Much to my surprise" this has angered a handful of loyal riders. But it's not surprising.

Loyalty to this event is ever so appreciated. Truly.

Unfortunately, it's a bit challenging to correlate why the transition of a registration process is discounting our loyal participants. Luck and technology are on your side if you've been able to register on line for the HHH several years running. None have been given preference with the on-line process.

There will be a few snags and snafu's, change can be a learning process. It's in my nature and is a part of the way this event is run to smooth out the snags and solve problems to best benefit our customers.

Living in a less than perfect world, I've come to accept the fact that I can't make everyone happy. That doesn't stop me from trying, however...

As one loyal participant wrote: "Thanks very little for going to a full lottery. It really rewards those of us who have supported this ride for 6, 7, or 8 years. Now the lazy people who wouldn’t sit at their computers at the appointed hour with the hope of getting in the ride will get a “fair” chance - very “progressive Madison” of you. Oh well, there’s always riding rogue if I miss the cut. Don’t worry, I wouldn’t touch a thing at the rest stops – I’d make my own."

A GUARANTEE: If the routes of this event are overrun with a larger than approved number of cyclists, local authorities and townships will put an end to the Horribly Hilly Hundreds.

Here's where I ask for a bit of perspective from anyone reading this blog post.

You ARE important, we WANT you to participate in the Horribly Hilly, but supply and demand are not in balance for this ride. Please consider being fair, conscientious, honest and mildly selfless in regards to registration and participation.

The above was the response from the director of the HHH regarding the change he made to the change he made in registration.

Confused? You should be.

The HHH has turned into an immensely popular ride. Since it's inception, it was grown and grown, attracting riders from farther off in the country. Unfortunately, while the popularity of the ride has increased amongst cyclist, the popularity has not improved with the townships the route takes us through. As such, there has been a very strict rider limit for every year of the ride. Last year, 1,000 were allowed to register from the start, and then an additional 300 were selected via lottery. The whole idiocy of the local folk not accepting more riders is an entirely different issue all together and won't be discussed right now.

Clearly something needs to change with regard to how registration takes place. Before it was a free for all and you would sit at the computer at the designated time and curse, possibly cry, and constantly reload a dead server until you were fortunate to get through and have your spot processed. Some made it. Others didn't. The above statement from the director points out valid complaints with this, however I don't feel they warranted a change because of that. One comment was about slow Internet access, another was about it filling in minutes. While these are warranted, they are hollow complaints. I personally have registered the last 2 years with a computer that has been "touchy" with regard to Internet connection. And not being at the computer at the designated time, well, that's too bad for you. The people who put on this ride announce plenty early enough so that you can get your day in order to be at the computer at the time. And don't whine about your job or home life preventing this: The last 3 times I've registered I've worked in the healthcare industry with healthcare hours, my wife was working as well as going to school full time, and we were chasing around a toddler son. Point is, I knew when the HHH opened for registration those 3 years and made the necessary adjustments to allow myself the 10 minutes needed to register. If you couldn't do that, well too bad. Those of us truly interested in doing the ride knew what to expect and planned accordingly.

So what should've been done? Well they had it right this year...for about a week. They announced in December that the registration process was going to a lottery for all except those that rode last year. If you rode in 2010, you had first dibs and would fill out a form and mail it in. This is how most big cycling events do it. There is a grandfathering of sorts system that not only builds loyalty but rewards those that have already demonstrated loyalty. However, someone must've got there panties in a bunch and in tuned bunched other people's panties and rather than tell the people with bunched panties to shove it, the rider directors caved and said let's make this a completely open lottery.

They claim this to be fair. I couldn't disagree more. Those of us who have put years of hard work into this ride need to be recognized. If you're not gonna increase the rider limit then you need to build loyalty. Saying one thing and then folding and meeting demands of a few put a bad taste in the mouths of those of us who want to make this our thing.

I planned on making this the 5th year in a row that I participated in the HHH. I'll find out this coming week as to whether or not my name was drawn as one of the lucky few. If not, I'm gonna be particularly bitter and will probably pen a pointless letter to the director (pointless because it's obvious now that they only recognize a few individuals and couldn't care less what the whole say) and walk away from the ride. I did indeed plan on taking a break next year and trying my hand at a ride out west, but I had every intention of going back to the HHH. Whether or not I get in, unless they show some sort of recognition or come up with a better plan than the whole "open lottery" that planned one year vacation may just be a more permanent one. Which is really too bad because the HHH has been the whole basis of my cycling habit. It would feel really weird to not have that to look forward to.

UPDATE: As of earlier this afternoon (Mon Jan 31st) I received an email from the HHH saying that my name was amongst the lucky ones who were chosen via the lottery to ride. While this made me happy and I'm excited as always to ride this event, I still stand by the above. Those of us who have devoted thousands of miles and countless hours both training and working out travel logistics and what not need to be rewarded for their dedication. Repeat riders should have first dibs; it's how you build loyalty and build a solid base of riders. Also, if more riders were repeat ones, they would get more familiar with the route and area and possibly less traffic run-ins and less littering would result. This in turn may befriend the host townships and they may be open to increasing the limit, which is the #1 problem anyhow. So no bitter email this year, but again I'll wait and see what, if anything, changes with the registration and see if I'll come back to the ride. Chances are good that I will. The ride is unique and truly is an enjoyable thing to partake in, rather I finish or not.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Great Man...

Everyday he took adversity head on. He did so with tireless dedication and charisma. He was harassed, threatened, and eventually cowardly taken way too early. But his legacy is a defining one, and everlasting. Take a moment today to truly appreciate what he did and what he went through to do it.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!!!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Dress the part...

So I've kind of latched on to this idea of the bloggies. I know that there are a gabillion other blogs much more worthy of me to win something (Jill Ouside, Hyperboleandahalf, bikesnobnyc, honey drenched asian feet), but it's got me thinking of ways as to how to improve this blog so that more people find it enjoyable. I know I know, this blog stands on it's own and has no need for extra panache, however a common theme I see with all those other really good blogs is that they include picture. So for today's post, I have a good idea as to what I want to write, however I'm gonna try something new and incorporate photos to help with the deliver. Let's see what happens.

As cyclist one of the things we accept is that we will look ridiculous. We may have great form on the climbs, however we are still squeezed into spandex. And no matter how fit you are, chartreuse mixed with fluorescent blue with a splash of green is just not gonna look great. But it needs to be done, that is you need to wear the gear to maximize the ride. Not really looking to go all out? Understandable. So what is the bare minimum I need to ride but not look like a strict commuter. Glad you asked.

1) Helmet--This is a must and with so many different styles to choose from, you can easily find one that works with the vibe you want to send out. Basic criteria? It should be visor less if you are on the road, the visor is optional when on the dirt, and it should fit rather snuggly but not uncomfortably. Sort of like this:

2) Shorts--With the headgear rock'n, it's now time for one of the most critical aspects: butt protection. Shorts or bibs? Full length or knickers? Solid color or multi? 4 panel or 8 panel chamois? It's all preference, as one pair of shorts will feel like silk to one person whereas another person will swear it felt like taking sand paper to their nether-regions. Regardless, a good pair of shorts are a must. They don't have to be flashy, and more than likely you're not gonna look like this guy:

But with the right shorts your ass isn't gonna feel like this:

3) Jersey--If you're serious about cycling and want to do it for long distances, a jersey is nice because it wicks sweat away from you and has pockets in the back to hold that oh so tasty gu. But this is where the selection is endless. There are millions of jerseys out there, and picking one is all in the eye of the beholder. Again, personal preference comes into play as they all have the same features. All you need to do is figure out if you want club or racing cut, and full length or 3/4 zip. Know that this is the focal point of your kit though. People don't ride up and say "nice helmet" or "where did you get those shorts?" as much as they will comment on your jersey. I suggest low key ones so people don't read too much into your abilities. And for those riders who may have the same interests as mine, may I suggest the following:

There are plenty of other things to worry about when going out for a ride, but these are kind of the essentials as to at least looking the part and having a somewhat comfortable ride. Even if you don't want to come across as a pro, you still can't be careless about your clothing choices. After all, you want to look competent and ungomerish. You want people to at least consider you sound, like this:

But not recoil in horror based on what you are wearing, like this:

Now squeeze into that lycra and get going!!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Truth shall set you free...

All people that write blogs say that they do it as a way to express themselves.


If that were true, then there wouldn't be the bloggies awards. I for one did not start writing this for expressionism and what not. No way. I wrote this for recognition and fame. I expect those to happen any minute now as a result of my fantastic written word.

But in the mean time, I encourage you to go to this website here and vote for this blog under the "Best Kept Secret" category. And then tell all your friends to do this as well. Promise them whatever they want in exchange for this (money, foot rubs, candy, alcohol, "special favors", etc...).

I'll be sure to thank all of you when I win.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

An Open Letter to Baby #2...

My dear child-

I suppose I need to get cracking with this letter, what seeing as your Mom has contractions pretty much whenever she's not laying down these days. This means (hopefully) that you are on your way. We are excited to have you make your presence.

Do I feel weird having another kid? Yes. I'm not entirely used to the idea that we have your older brother running around. And when people ask if I have kids, answering in the positive still makes me smile. Nonetheless, I can't wait to meet you.

I'm gonna repeat what I told your older sibling, and that is I can't promise that I'll always be the good guy. From time to time I'm gonna tell you "no" and you're probably not gonna like it. You will be put on time out, you will have toys taken away, and you may even receive the silent treatment from time to time. However, what I can promise you is that no matter what you do, I will always support you. Whether you get into gymnastics, hockey, basketball, pool, swimming, creative writing, MMA, wrestling, baseball, interpretive dance, whatever it is I will say go for it. Remember though that this does not include illegal or unhealthy vices, in which case I'll just use the same line my Dad told me:

"If you ever do drugs, I'll kill you."

Simple words, and effective seeing as though I've never done drugs.

I'll do my best to provide for you a comfortable life, but I also believe in earning what you get. Therefore I will try and let you develop into your own person but know that I will help you out whenever you ask.

Each child is their own, and even though we've already done the whole pregnancy and welcoming to the world with your brother, this in no way has dulled our excitement for you! We can not wait to show you off to the world, change your diapers at 3 in the morning, and watch you grow up. Daven is even excited for you to show up, as evident by him talking to you at night while he is being put to bed. He also likes to feel you kick in Mama's belly.

You're entering into a stable home, where all 3 of us already love you. So whenever you're ready, we'll be here.

-Your Dad.
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