I Received An Email

Several of you suggested I email the folks at the Lake Anna Century to let them know of my experience in that event.  I haven’t done that, but I did respond to a query from Active.Com (the folks who handled the registration fees).  When I went to their website, I found several similar complaints, along with some who mentioned that they enjoyed the route and wished the group the very best.  None of the complaints were mean-spirited in their tone; they were simply pointing out the several significant problems with the ride.

Today, the Lake Anna Century sent me an email.  I’d like to think it was due to my status as an important blogger with international influence, but I suspect they sent it out to all the participants.  I include it below, unedited, for your edification.

Subject: Thank You For Your Support

Dear Steven,

Thank you for supporting our ride on Saturday! The weather was great and the rain held off long enough for all of the cyclist to finish the ride. 

Being that this was the first time we have held this ride, it was a learning experience for us, and there were a few problems that we encountered during the day.  We have received some very helpful suggestions from some of you on how we can make the next event even better, and, if we hold the ride again, we will certainly be more prepared.

One unfortunate problem we had was the lack of volunteers. We anticipated support from the local law enforcement community, because this event was a charity ride for Law Enforcement United. We tried Emails, phone calls and personal outreach but did not receive any help. As suggested by some of you, if we decide to do the ride again next year, we will be sure to reach out to the cyclist themselves, and invite their spouses and friends to volunteer. Again, this was a learning experience for us. 

The lack of volunteers put us in a tough position and we had to scramble to set up our last 2 rest stops, we apologize to the early arrivers who reached these rest stops and they were not ready for you. Also, we also did not anticipate as many cyclist signing up on the day of the ride, next time we will be prepared with more snacks, fruit and porta-potties!

One last note, this was a ride for charity. This wasn’t a big corporate sponsored event with a full time staff, and thousands of dollars to spend on fancy packets and frills. This was a beautiful ride through some very scenic parts of Virginia, put together by a 15 year old avid cyclist who decided that he wanted to hold a century ride to benefit an organization who’s cause he admires: Law Enforcement United. So please take this into consideration if you feel the need to post reviews on Active.com or anywhere else. 

We were happy to be able to provide this opportunity to the cycling community in Virginia. It was a fun and rewarding event for us. We met some very nice people on Saturday, and wish everyone the best. Thanks to you, we are able to make a very nice monetary contribution to Law Enforcement United so that they may continue the great work that they do.

All the best,

Lake Anna Century Classic

Ok, this is awkward.  As I mentioned in my previous post, Law Enforcement United is a worthy cause and I hate to criticize given the positive goals of the event.  Still, the following thoughts come to mind:

  • The event was run by a 15-year-old?!  Holy Crud, that’s a lot of responsibility for such a young man.  This was a serious event requiring a fair amount of organization and attention to detail.  Regardless of your abilities, 100 miles on a bike is no joke and there are any number of things that could go wrong, some with significant medical issues to be addressed.  If I knew this was the case, I would seriously have reconsidered my participation. 
  • If you’re short volunteers and need to scrimp on the rest stops, I would suggest the last two stops are the most important ones.  Take a chance with the 20 mile stop and make sure the others are manned.
  • If you’re short volunteers and you think there may be problems with food/water at the stops, tell people before you start so they can plan accordingly.
  • And finally, if you’re going to host a charity event, do not rely on the expertise of a 15-year-old enthusiast to get everything right.  Know what you’re doing or find someone who has done it before and knows what they’re doing.  I think the ride is very lucky nothing serious happened on their watch.

There, enough bashing on the good people at the Lake Anna Century.  Since so many were interested in giving the organization feedback, I thought you would like to know the riders’ voices were heard.

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17 thoughts on “I Received An Email

  1. I’ve seen this kind of problem with many 1st events. Always assume you are on your own! Randonneuring will help with that.

    • Indeed. This maxim begs the question, if you should always assume you are on your own, what benefit is there to organized rides? Precious little apart from the T-Shirt, it would seem. With a few notable exceptions, I am fast approaching this conclusion.

  2. You see, that’s what you get for being so dang fast! I’d have been so pokey that the last rest stops would have been set up by the time I reached them 🙂

    I’m sure there were adults involved in organizing the event and they really shouldn’t try to pass the buck and blame the kid, even if it was his idea (and a good one at that).

  3. I just read your last post and have been on several charity tours like that one. They always seem to underestimate when riders will arrive at stops and are unprepared.

    Sounds like you experienced your first hard bonk, as an expert on bonking out I welcome you to the club.

    My only concern was that you didn’t fill up your water bottles somewhere, water’s free man!

    • What you call a bonk, I call flirtation with heat exhaustion. And you’re right, not stopping someplace for water was a big mistake – a mixture of stupidity and pride, I suppose.

  4. My 1st reaction is similar to yours & the above viewers. A 15 yr old – and already avid?! At least they complimented you as being the “early” arrivers.

  5. Gotta agree with ya. It sounds like their volunteers were intending to go from the first rest stop to the fourth, and because you rode straight through, maybe you got there before that happened??? In any case, it created a dangerous situation and they appear to be protecting the young person, which is understandable. All organized rides seem to improve over time. Kudos to the kid.

    • I don’t see them protecting the kid. If that was their intent, they should never have mentioned him in their email. To me, they are using the young man as a scape goat, which isn’t very becoming of them. And I agree – kudos to the kid. I wish he had slightly better supervision.

  6. I hope that is a misprint and they meant a cyclist with 15 years of experience and not a 15 year old.

    I had a similar experience last year on a ride with lots of problems, although none of them sounded nearly as serious as this ride. Initially I did criticize the ride on my blog, which was circulated via the Internet and got back to the organizers. At first I received some hate mail, which later cooled down into a constructive conversation, and I think they learned from my points. We are now good friends and they have promoted my website. They also support a cycling advocacy charity that I can get behind.

    After that experience, I decided then that I would not use my blog to point out flaws unless they would put riders in danger, but instead would address my issues directly with the organizers. After reading the email from your event, which sounds smug and uses the charity as justification for putting riders in jeopardy, I think you did the right thing. They clearly have a lot to learn before trying this again.

    • No, they really mean the impetus for this event was the vision of a 15-year-old boy. Extremely commendable, but he should not be held up as an excuse for problems which occurred.

      I take a different tact with this blog than you do with yours. This is merely a catalog of my experiences. Being my experiences, the stories are told from my perspective, which is hardly authoritative. Mine is but one view, which I share for the amusement and possible education of those who stop by for a read. When I make mistakes, I share them. When I encounter others who help, inspire, or sometimes even those who make mistakes, I share their stories as well. I try to avoid ad hominem attacks and focus solely on the events/issues as I experience them. In this way, at the very least I learn something from the comments of people like you. For example, I now know from earlier comments that churches can be counted on to have water spigots! 🙂

  7. Ahem, this is even more awkward. I looked up Law Enforcement United (LEU) and while it is a 501c “charity”, it seems that a better description would be that it is a non-profit organization that raises money (through bike rides) for two other charities. The charities that LEU supports appear worthwhile; however, it seems a bit indirect (?) to host a charity ride to raise money to give to a fundraiser so that they can host a charity ride to raise money for other charities. Especially when the LEU does not list the Lake Anna event as one of its fundraisers (http://www.lawenforcementunited.org/Default.aspx?pageId=1211294)
    Why not just give the Lake Anna money directly to the underlying charities?

    I point his out because, like the curmudgeon that I am, I like to check out the charities that charity events claim to support with their events.
    All too often for my tastes people say or think “its for a good cause so overlook the problems” but how often do folks find out how much money was raised by an event and just where the money went? Was that information provided by this ride? Lake Anna had sponsorships and charged for participation then staged a ride lacking in support. Then it had the nerve to say forgive use we didn’t know what we were doing?

    Ordinarily I would say nothing about this since I did not even ride the event, but the fact that the ride wants to claim that the logistical problems you described are the result of a 15 year old seems ludicrous at best. How could a 15 year old be responsible this event when a 15 year old can’t sign a contract or even be a member of LEU? It seems to me that the adult ride organizers, and in my opinion, all charity event organizers that play on folks good nature need to be a lot more upfront about what they are doing.

    End of rant. Thanks for your time.

    • I’m learning that this was not a LEU-sponsored event. Rather, our intrepid 15-year-old decided on his own to organize a charity ride and donate the proceeds to LEU. This is why LEU doesn’t list the event as one of its fundraisers. LEU was not involved in planning or conducting the event in any way. They will simply take the money raised by the ride organizers as they would any other charitable donation. It appears the well-intentioned teenager received some assistance from the adults in his life (not nearly enough of whom have experience in these sorts of things) but did not get the volunteer support he hoped for from the local law enforcement community. I agree with you that it would have been good to understand the details up front as I thought it was an LEU-sponsored event until the day after the fact.

  8. Thanks for writing about this. I’m new to your blog so I didn’t know about the event until after it happened. I’ll gladly sign up next year. Seems like a great cause, and even with the difficulties, it seems like a great ride. I hope they do it again next year.

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