Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Reflections #1 : First Experience In Ride Organizing

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Hah! One would have thought that my first article on Reflections would be something along the line of Joys of Cycling or Advantage of Cycling!

But I can't help it, I am just so excited from having organized a ride with a few friends that the feeling of euphoria of organizing a successful ride that I just have to pen it down first. We posted the event on FaceBook and was hoping to have around ten participants, in the end 23 bikers took part.
So let's get down to it, firstly.....

1. 5-10 pax = Mini Ride Group
2. 10-30 pax = Small Ride Group
3. 30-50 pax = Medium Ride Group
4. More than 50 pax = Large Ride Group

Majestic at top of Desa Parkcity
In organizing rides we have to take into consideration the type of cyclists participating and cater for their needs in terms of route difficulty and distances.
1. Power Riders - those who go for speed and endurance; no stops for sightseeing, photos or even food, until end of ride.
2. Leisure Riders - those who go cycling as a leisure and some exercise thrown in. Normally the routes are easy with little slopes & distance 10-15km.
3. Medium Riders - Those who fall some where in between the above two. A fair bit of challenge in their rides but without extremes. Stops for photography and food/drinks.
4. Newbies - Those who have ridden for less 6 months, normally during weekends.
Hey! I am still a newbie!

Mast-head of FB ride event by Kookkeong with strong emphasis on team work.
L-R Sin, Wee Kiat, Nash, Kookkeong, Jotaro Zen
1. Sin Tai Lim
2. Jotaro Zen (The AhPek Biker)
3. Nash Abraham
4. Kookkeong Fong

Sin was the pusher. It started with him sending out WhatsApp messages on a midweek day to see who was free to join him for rides. This was rather impromptu but exciting at the same time. Me & Nash would join him in the earlier of these rides.

Nash, Sin & me during one of the exploratory ride
Soon we were joined regularly by Wee Kiat and sometimes by Kookkeong, Siew Yung and even a Singaporean friend, going by the unique name of KarTak Chia Tan.
Most of these rides started from the Royal Selangor Club Bukit Kiara Annexe and went on to the Bukit Kiara-Sg Pencala area. The more we rode around the area, the more our curiousity were tickled. We wanted to find out if our ride route could connect to Desa Parkcity and it did! (see Sg. Pencala Exploratory Ride).

We found the ride route enjoyable and wanted to share it with our other biking friends.
So we said to ourselves "Hey why not organize a ride!"
And that was that.


Riding the Sg Pencala route was fine and interesting, but would it pose a good challenge for the participants? It was a nice shady, kampong area with some medium steep slopes.
We needed steeper slopes to stretch the more experienced riders and keen their interests!

So Sin pushed for a ride up Kiara Hills to be thrown in. And we did a ride up there one week prior to the ride with Wee Kiat and Kookkeong joining us. It was a tough climb and should definitely interest the more seasoned riders. I suspect Sin must have rode this route a few days prior!
The Proposed Kiara Hills Ride Map  (click for Map Link)
Even with this, it was not good enough! As it would entail riding the same route back.
And again Sin pushed for and extension from Desa Parkcity into the Segambut area and back to the Royal Selangor Club coming in from the other direction.

I was more the Ride secretary. Sin sketched out the route and I plotted it out on Google Maps and created the Event at My Cyclist Friends FaceBook Group (a group created by Rivern Yong), inviting all in the Group to the event.
The ride route was posted in the event too, so that participants will know what they can expect. And the ride was captioned "a good climb up Kiara Hills and a scenic ride through Kampong Sg. Pencala". Locations for breakfast, lunch and photo ops spots were also included in the ride map.

As it was I who created the event, I was the Host (rather embarrassing that) , I put Sin, Nash and Kookkeong as co-hosts. So I had to make sure that the participants knew that Sin was the ride leader and made a comment thus. Kookkeong and Nash would be the marshals and I would be the sweeper. Kookkeong even designed the ride masthead for the FaceBook event.
Initially, the response was a bit cool with about 7 riders registering their participation, but as the ride date got nearer more registered and on the day itself 23 (including ourselves) took part.

Final Recce Team - Siew Yung, Sin, Nash, Norman & me
Just to be clear of the route ourselves, a few days prior to the ride we rode a reverse recce loop of the Segambut Dalam Area. We ended that recce with a good dinner and chat at Subak in Sg Pencala.

Emphasis On Safety & Team Spirit
At all times we stressed that this was not a race or a speed ride. Although certain stretches were challenging, we assured the riders that safety and teamwork were the key points of the ride.
Teamwork - helping the rest.
A few newbie riders posted about their worries of being left behind in case they could not ride as fast as the rest. They were promptly assured by many of the other riders that they would be well taken care of - which indeed there were.
In fact, additional unplanned regroup points were added during the ride to ensure this. And the good thing is that none of the participants complained about waiting for the slow ones. That's the SPIRIT!

1. Read more of the ride itself at Kiara HIlls Ride. But the following stresses some key points.

2. Although I carried out the briefing, I felt that arising from my perennial stage fright I missed out some key points.
3. Be prepared for some things to go awry. Luckily for us, ithe hiccup to our plan was a busy coffee shop that spoilt our breakfast plans - we had to split into smaller groups & eat at various other spots.
4. Judging from the jovial faces of the participants after the ride, we believe that the Ride was a success.

What makes a successful ride? From this first experience, I gather the following:

1. Post as clear a map of the ride route as possible.
2. Stressed what type of ride this is, eg. leisure ride, power ride, etc.
3. Indicate areas of interest of the ride route, eg. tough climb section, scenic section, etc.

4. Plan where to eat and WHEN to eat. We had breakfast after the tough hill climb, this allowed the riders a good break for rest too.
5. Plan for photo op areas, that is if the group is interested in photo shoots. Some rides minimize this.
6. Hold discussions to discuss in detail the route, safety and responsibilities.

1. Stress that safety is of ultimate importance. Enforce this by having enough marshals to guide the riders.
2.Ensure no one gets lost! This is a terrifying experience especially for newbies in an unfamiliar territory. The sweeper must make sure that he is always the last rider in.
2. The leader, marshalls and sweepers have to be familiar with the ride route OR they themselves would get lost too! They must always bear in mind that they are responsible for the riders.

Bikers doing Limbo Rock led by Nash
(It is the what we do that makes the ride memorable)
3. Allow the riders to express themselves as long as they do not jeopardise the safety to themselves or to other riders. REMEMBER it is the people and what they do that make the ride enjoyable and memorable.
4. Improvise! When necessary have more regroups - Teamwork helps make a safe ride.
5. Do detract from the ride route slightly if this makes the ride more interesting. We went up to the top of Desa Parkcity for a tough climb and a wonderful view!

1. Evaluate the strong and weak points of the ride in order to plan for a better ride in future.
2. Thank everyone for their contribution towards the teamwork & safety that has led to the success of the rid.

These are an old man's thoughts on this subject. If others have some other important points on ride organization, please do tell me as it would help us plan for better rides.

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