Thank you to BBC for all the hard work and dedication it takes to make RAIN a great success! Team Visual Gravvity looks forward to the 2015 version.
It should not have to be stated that ethics, honesty, and courtesy should be the precepts of RAIN, but apparently this is not the case for all riders. Trashing people's yards or the roads with debris and wrappers, riding in sag vehicles to move to the front of the pack, sag vehicles handing items to riders at full speed and blocking other riders behind the vehicle, and riders being cut off by other riders were some of the behaviors observed. I would suggest RAIN adopt some simple rules that need to be stated more as a reminder of ethical behavior at this time.
Some thoughts on RAIN 2014.
The 2014 version of the Ride Across Indiana (RAIN) started at 7 AM on Saturday, July 12, at Saint Mary of the Woods College with John Bassett fulfilling the starter role.
Actually the ride started over a year ago, with planning by the RAIN Committee of the Bloomington Bicycle Club. The date was set and various contracts and commitments were arranged with Saint Mary of the Woods and Earlham College and rest stops in between. Planning and executing RAIN is a huge undertaking of the BBC and involves many, many folks. A core group voluntarily did PRERAIN (Pre-Rain Ride) the preceding weekend in order to give full time to the event the next weekend. John Connell chairs the RAIN Committee and was everywhere at the finish line. Jen Miers and Keith Bobay handled registration, John Bassett was in charge of route mapping and marking, Mark Villanova organized the rest stops, and Tammy Berger handled all merchandise. Ron Brown handled electronic recording of finish times and producing the finisher list. I hope I’ve mentioned the main people who devoted many hours over the year to make this event happen. Many, many other friends and club members were on hand to staff registration and rest stops as well as the finish line. A good crew of volunteers helped stuff over 1200 registration packets a few days before the event. It could not have been done without everyone’s enthusiastic participation. A big THANK YOU to all who pitched in on Friday and Saturday, too. It is a particular challenge that the event covers such a wide area and is so far from home. Somehow it comes together and gets better every year.
Recent innovations that continue to work well include the gatorade and water dispensers, plenty of ice at the rest stops, and more salty snacks at the rest stops, too.
Many people cheer on riders, providing welcome encouragement when energy flags.
A few firsts for this year: maps were released electronically prior to the event and riders were not provided printed maps and cue sheets (riders really don’t need maps or cue sheets, the route is so well marked, some SAG drivers needed help, though), packet pick-up without having to sign a waiver (assuming it was done in advance on-line), baseball and cycling hats available for purchase, a Friday evening buffet meal available for purchase through SMWC, a new location for the finish line at Earlham (one block further west and less inviting to motor vehicles to “accidentally” turn in there; indeed a little behind the scenes pull by Earlham security folks got the highway people to declare the right lane closed to traffic in the block or so approaching the end! For the first time we used only an electronic system to record finish times without the backup of tear-off numbers. Another first (not noted before at least) was a welcome burger and brat concession at the student union near the finish line. For the first time those welcome showers at Earlham were cold! Still welcome, but people didn’t spend so long in the shower!
At each rest stop it is fun to see friends from the club working to help make things work so smoothly and to provide more encouragement. The traditional ices and cold drinks at the Dunreith, not to mention the mister, are always welcome afternoon sustenance and relief.
The fee for participating in RAIN is relatively modest by comparison with fees for other comparable cycling events and basically covers expenses. Popular merchandise items including custom jerseys, decals, and hats have allowed the club to make a decent profit, which primarily funds our important community grant program as well as a few club activities. The club reimburses out of pocket expenses, like mileage, to all volunteers.
This year’s number of registrations was similar to last year’s, but the number of finishers is vastly higher. This year we had cool, overcast skies, a little light rain midday, and something of a tail wind during much of the day. My own group finished about an hour sooner this year than last year and felt in much better condition at the end of the ride. The rain was always a worry (that it might get heavy), but in fact it was a plus, helping to cool things off. Who could ask for anything more?
This year’s ride also seemed a bit safer. Of course I only saw a small slice of the ride, but I witnessed no accidents of any sort involving cyclists or the aftermath of any, and few mechanical issues or even flat tires along the way. Riding did seem kind of crowded for a longer stretch up to the lunch stop and beyond. I was happy that for the last 30-40 miles our group got to ride in its own style and pace with only a few “outsiders” joining us, rather than in huge packs of 50 or more, which always seemed to have a few riders weaving in and out or speeding up and slowing down, etc. Almost everyone was friendly and courteous, though.
At the finish line riders are cheered on and congratulated, times are recorded, pictures taken, and a traditional RAIN medallion keychain
handed out. Official recording of times ends at the stated time of 9 PM, although often folks determinedly finish those last few miles even when they know they’ll miss the cut-off. As long as volunteers are there, and while supplies last, all finishers receive a medallion.
The RAIN Facebook group continues to grow and provides an outlet for many people to post pictures and comments, some during the actual event! Check it out for more perspective on this amazing event. Maybe you, too, have stories and pictures to share!
If you didn’t “ride RAIN” this year, you can start now to dream of doing it next year! And if that seems like torture to you, or if life intervenes with other priorities (how could that be?), then plan now to join the crucial RAIN volunteer corps! Planning is already underway.
I figure my four flat tires were just a run of bad luck. I could have caused my own bad luck with thin and worn tires. I had some inexpensive Performance Forte Strada K tires I got on sale for $12. Yeah, I know you get what you pay for but I got over 2,500 miles out of them. I guess I should have changed tires at 2,400 miles. I have Michelins on now.
Everyone I rode with was supportive and patient. No one complained. We were running out of 25mm tubes, though. The good thing is that I got a lot of practice changing tires. Sunday morning when I was fixing the fourth flat I discovered an easier way to do it. One of those "doh! moments": why didn't I think of this before?
I'm glad the flats weren't due to the 2 miles of gravel road. I heard about the hills after Dubois to French Lick. This route change was suggested by John B, Joe A, Stan E. I guess John B would have rather had the trafffic on IN-56.
A group of us “moderate” riders did the Middle Century out of French Lick on Saturday while the Double Century crowd was doing its thing along much of the same route as laid out by Jim Schroeder. Altogether there were around 20 riders more or less evenly split between Doubles and Singles (and two who started with the Doubles and finished the singles route for a total of 150 miles). The Doubles had 3 or 4 support vehicles. The Singles were mostly on our own.
A few of the Singles were up for riding a good part of the way with the Doubles providing some welcome drafts, I’m sure. My own group, however, took off shortly before the Doubles arrived at French Lick at their mile 50. We stayed ahead for awhile. But we got passed when one of our group had a flat.
CE expertly swapped in his spare tube in a short 10 minutes and we were on our way again. The repair included a stick-on boot provided by Craig over the tiny hole in the tire.
Before long Robin picked up a roofing nail that went through the tire and penetrated the rim! CE reported that he was riding next to Robin and heard a “tap-tap-tap”, which made him worry that something was mechanically wrong with his own bike.
At least it was a pleasant grassy area for working on repairing the tire. Cost us 14 minutes.
As a result we were only slightly late getting into the first scheduled rest stop.
Before long CE had his second flat. He swapped in a borrowed tube while carefully checking tire and rim for defects. None found. It seemed to be independent of his first flat. This one took 13 minutes.
The result was that we rolled into the planned lunch stop at the Subway in just before the main Double Century group was getting ready to depart, with our having had 37 minutes of down time.
Someone said that Doug was offering a spare tire to anyone who needed it at the Subway, but no one took him up on it.
Shortly after leaving the lunch stop. CE had another flat! This was really frustrating. He patched the tube this time. Still we couldn’t find any problem and it seemed independent of the other punctures. When we pumped it up it seemed to be losing air. So we backed off and looked for a problem. None found. Apparently it was just leaking air through the valve stem since we left the pump attached. So in the end this flat was changed twice. This one took 30 minutes and CE for one was feeling a bit grumpy. But we mostly stayed relaxed, knowing we had all day.
By and by around mile 60 CE had his 4th flat. At that point he told us to go on and to come back and pick him up after we finished. He gave his car keys to Gail, and we went ahead while he walked about a mile to the nearest small town. About this time Steve connected with us having left the Double group with his plan not to over tax his knee and limit his ride to 150 miles.
Soon Rachel had the idea of asking Sid and Jack who were at Sid’s new B&B in West Baden Springs and not riding to pick up CE, which they kindly did! That saved us from an extra couple of hours of driving after the ride, which was important when we were already running so late.
The rest of the ride was mostly uneventful. One wrong turn in Jasper that added a mile or two. Fun frozen yogurt treats at the IGA. Not too much trouble on the gravel.
All but CE finished our Middle Century doing well. It was a great day in southern Indiana and even CE, despite the difficulties with his tire, later reported “I really did have a fun ride yesterday. “
Thanks to Jim Schroeder for designing and promoting the ride and including a way for a group like ours to conveniently do a “short” option.
Last year sometime on a club ride we were coming back from a ride southwest of town when a mail delivery car stopped in front of me and I locked up my rear brake, skidding a little before coming to a stop. All seemed well. But Joe Anderson, who was ahead on the ride, commented afterwards that that tire would wear out sooner.
That was in the back of my mind last week. I don’t really keep track of how many miles are on my tires or other equipment or when I last changed or serviced them. So I thought maybe I should examine my tires more closely than usual.
Here’s what I found on my rear tire:
Joe’s bald spot! He was totally right. I felt lucky that I hadn’t already had a blow-out. Fortunately I had that old spare, which I immediately swapped in before going out that evening. I had already been thinking that I should probably put on new tires before RAIN. Now I know I will.
We had a very congenial group of 20 riders and a beautiful Saturday morning for riding. We mostly followed the club map and cue sheet, with a few exceptions. We took the B-Line trail from Grimes to Tapp rather than Rogers. And as we completed the Popcorn Loop folks opted to stay on Popcorn back to Rockport, rather than take Spencer Pike and Wells Lane, which bends toward Springville and makes for more retracing one route in the homeward direction along Rockport. Maybe we should just give in and change the map to show this.
Note that Ron Brown has been updating maps and cue sheets to show some current club preferences. In particular this ride now finishes via Church Lane, Walnut Street Pike, through Cardinal Glen. Also, the map shows the preferred back road way out of Springville to Highway 54, on Bedford Street now that it is nicely paved. This blown-up bit of map shows us backtracking from the Convenience Store to Bedford Street.
We had a couple of new riders. We lost one rider to a missing cleat screw early (at least he was intending to go short) and another who had a flat coming out of Springville and sent the rest of the group on. A collision involving three bikes on Rogers Road on the way out town was fortunately minor, with no apparent injury or damage.
We had several pleasant stops, including Harrodsburg, Springville, Popcorn Church, and Tramway. There was so much fun conversation it was sometimes hard to get everybody going again. Here’s Klaus’s picture of the group at the Popcorn Church:
You can tell just by looking that it was a fantastic day. It worked out great that we offered an alternative local ride.
Al is also known around town for the unique tandem he and his wife Kathy ride. It might be called a “semi-recumbent”: The captain rides in an ordinary upright position behind while the stoker sits low in front with legs extended forward. Maybe you’ve seen them!
Recently Al got to reminiscing about that tandem. What follows are some of his recollections. Like some other cyclists I know he really keeps track of numbers. (Unlike me, who only vaguely knows when and what repairs have been made, how many miles on my current tires, etc.)
In Al’s own words,
We ordered the bike in March, 1984, and picked it up at the Indy airport on Sept. 22 that year. The 2.8 miles today make a total mileage of 59,303.0 miles. And I took a bit of time today to break that down into 5-year totals, which are: 16,332.8, 14,695.0, 8,672.6, 6,881.0, 7,216.4, and 5,505.2. The last total is 4 months short and alas I won’t be able to catch up to the usual standard. We have recorded 10 rides of 100 miles or longer, but none recently. The purchase price was $2355 and to that I have added some $3,629.66 for replacements and repairs–tires, tubes, hubs, rims, bearings, headsets, and so forth. That total would have been much higher had I not done almost all of the repairs myself so there have been essentially no labor costs. If you have done the math, you see that the average cost per mile is just slightly above 10 cents. It is fair to assume that we have averaged 13 mph while riding, which gives us a healthful recreational cost of about $1.30/hour.
I wonder if you are still reading; the numbers may well have glazed your eyes. Let me wake you up with brief accounts of our three major accidents. The first was on a solo trip that Kathy and I were doing in ’85. While riding along the waterfront in Madison, IN, I hit a very diagonal railroad track that threw the front of the bike sideways, depositing both of us on the pavement. Kathy got a good case of knee and hip road-rash but we patched up ourselves and the bike and pedaled on to the east along the Ohio. Three days later we had our longest ride ever, some 111 miles, as we did the last portion of the ride home with the wind at our back. Our second accident happened almost in slo-mo as we were riding east in a group along Third Street out toward Smith Road. Someone stopped in front of us quickly and unexpectedly. As we bumped their tire from the rear with our front pedal assembly, they rolled forward and lifted our front wheel off the street. Unable to steer, we slowly toppled over and someone coming right behind us rode over our horizontal rear wheel and pretzeled it. I pushed the bike home holding the rear wheel off the ground. The last accident was perhaps the most spectacular of all. We had ridden north on Kinser Pike and continued across route 37 onto Bottom Road. There is a great hill there to scoot down, with a bridge and then a turn to the right at the bottom. Usually we are going about 18 mph when we straighten out there. And that is where our front tire blew. And I mean BLEW!! I kept us upright on just the rim for a few yards, but then we were down. Both of us got road-rash from this one. I hitched back into town to get the car to haul our bike home. No chance to boot up the tire and fix it. On each side of the 20-inch front tire, there was a 13-inch long blow-out hole! Since then I have tried not to use tires for quite so long.