Monday, September 21, 2015

Tour de Pink V

A selfie taken at our start of the 2015 Tour de Pink. The start/finish line is to the left of my head, marked by the pink and yellow decorations. There is nobody else there because we got there a bit late and everyone else had already left. This picture would have been better had we used a selfie-stick, but when I attempted to purchase one at Best Buy, I was told that I was over the legal age for purchasing this device.

This year, my wife and I rode in the Tour de Pink for the fifth year in a row. As in previous years1, there were rides of 12, 23, 34, 47, 63, 81, and 100 miles. The routes were the same as for the previous four years and are shown on the map I posted in 2012. Because of my dad's illness and death, we were unable to train this year, so instead of our usual 63 miles, we rode the 34 mile route. I confess that it was discouraging to "go backwards", to have to decrease our mileage from previous years rather than increase it. On the other hand, because the 34 mile route goes over different roads than the 63 mile route, this change provided some much appreciated variety.

There were changes to the signup and fundraising aspects of the ride this year that I did not like. Since last year, the organizers had their website redone. Somehow, the developers who did that were not able to bring forward the membership information from the previous design so I had to re-enter all my information. Then, after I had committed to riding, I was informed that the fundraising schedule had been changed. In previous years, we had until one month after the ride to complete our fundraising. This year, I was informed, fundraising had to be completed before packets could be picked up, a few days before the ride. Honestly, I always self-fund so I really didn't care, but my wife enjoys getting some of her friends to support her ride, and this made it more difficult for her to do so. Compounding the problem, and another consequence of having had a rough year, we were signing up relatively late, not the organizers fault, but had we known about the tighter fundraising deadline, we might have pulled it together to sign up earlier. But the coup de grĂ¢ce came when, in a last minute email, the organizers told us that although the deadline for fundraising was Thursday, they needed to "run the numbers" on the previous Monday, so the real deadline was not Thursday but Monday. At that point, we gave up on my wife being able to fundraise and I sat down to donate to both me and my wife. I did that the Sunday prior to the new deadline of Monday, since I had no idea what time on Monday they would "run the numbers." When I went to donate to myself, I was dismayed by the huge amount of information the organizers insisted they get from me before they would deign to take my money, but in the end, the donation was made. I then went to donate to my wife. After redundantly entering all the same information, I was told that "something had gone wrong" and that I had to "contact their fundraising department."  I would have hoped for a phone number for the fundraising department as part of this message, but it was not provided. Further, try as I may, nowhere on their website could I find any such thing as a fundraising department. I called their main number and left a message, hoping they would call me back before "running the numbers." The next day, my wife called them to resolve this issue, and they told her that this was a feature, not a bug. "The anti-fraud feature of our new website was triggered when two donations came in right after another from the same credit card." (Of course, nobody would ever want to make donations to more than one rider. Sheesh!) Next, they didn't want to take her money. "Just pay when you pick up the packet" they suggested. This didn't work for us because our team captain was picking up packets for the whole team, so when my wife insisted, they reluctantly took her credit card number. The final irony came when I went to my LBS to pick up some last minute parts and found that, coincidentally, they were the site of packet pickup. I asked the people giving out packets if our team captain had picked up our packets, and when they checked, they said he had not. "We had a very early deadline for registering teams for team pickups this year" the person behind the counter said. I am sure I am just projecting, but I could have sworn that person took perverse satisfaction in this inconvenience. When we got to the ride the following Sunday, it seemed to us that there were many fewer riders this year than previously. I wonder why (he asks sarcastically)?

So, bad year, discouraged at doing a shorter ride, annoyed at the organizers, getting up at 5 am to drive in the dark to the ride start, getting there a bit late and missing our team, this was not a good start. A few miles into the ride, we encountered an unfortunate stretch of road with a lovely wide shoulder ruined by a rumble strip. It looked like there might have been enough shoulder on the far side of the rumble strip to use, so I gave it a try. The rumble strip was brand new and especially aggressive, and riding over it caused my headlight to fall off and be ruined, and shook my cadence sensor to bits, both ruining it and preventing me from collecting stats for this ride. To top it all off, we got back to the finish early and lunch was not ready. We had the choice of sitting around and waiting for what in the past has been a mediocre lunch, or just blowing it off and going home. We chose the latter. I was all set to entitle this post "The Last Tour de Pink?" but as we were riding back to the car, my wife turned to me, graced me with her world-famous smile, and said "What a lovely ride!" All of a sudden, it was worth it. I guess we will be going back next year.

1) We rode the Tour de Pink in 2011 before I started this blog, so that ride is described in my post for the 2013 ride. Here are the links for the rides we did in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

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