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.

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