|For the price of a post card...|
Events that are shorter/easier have been added, ways to support charities have been added, and even a full support sponsorship type package has been arranged for which you can pay a company to allow you the best chance of finishing the event. (Hey- it ain't my personal idea of how it should be done, but it isn't my gig.) I imagine there is liability insurance in there as well. Point is, all this costs money and time, so the DK 200 event fee is very close to triple digits these days.
I've seen a few folks grousing about that, but ya know- services and benefits cost money. The more an event promoter provides, the more it costs somebody. Who that somebody is can be a moving target based upon several factors, but trust me, nothing is free. Not Almanzo 100, not Trans Iowa, not the little gravel grinder in North Dakota you heard about. Nope- somebody always pays.
Take Almanzo as an example. Promoter Chris Skogen has given the racers at that event cue sheets, race packets, and the like that are better than some wedding invitations I've seen. Not to mention the sattelite events- The Royal 165 and Dirty Nellie, and all of the foot race stuff besides. All at no cost to the attendee, but make no mistake- that fancy-pants race packet cost someone some cabbage. The services and benefits, ya'all- and by all accounts, Mr. Skogen has invested dearly. To the point that several Minneapolis based concerns have stepped in to help raise funds to allow Mr. Skogen's vision to continue. They are asking for donations, and had an apparel buy in, and a party. All to pay for the event. Remember- somebody always pays.
I don't want to make T.I. "bigger", and T.I. isn't some cultural epiphany with trappings worthy of an art show. Trans Iowa doesn't have a closed down main street with a band playing, nor does it have event insurance or sanctioning from anybody. So- it doesn't cost a whole lot to do this. I am not indicting those events that are growing into the visions their promoters have. No- they can do what they want with no quarrel from my side of the aisle. I'm just saying that if there is more offered- there is more costs involved, and sometimes that cost gets shifted off the promoter to fund raising, or directly to the attendees themselves.
But back to Trans Iowa- What you do see there is generally freely offered. The space for the Pre-Race Meat-Up, the nutritional items, the volunteer help, and any prizing we offer. All supplied at zero cost to Trans Iowa- but it cost those that the benefits came from. Sometimes there is a reward greater than the costs, (pre-race comes to mind), but more often than not, at Trans Iowa at least, you are riding there on the backs of a lot of folks efforts and investment.
So while Trans Iowa has no entry fee, the event is not free. I've been pretty vocal about this in the past. I am not complaining, mind you, but to my mind, there is a distinct difference as to expectations from an event depending on if the cost of doing something is on the promoter or on the attendee. As a rider, you have the freedom of choice where your dollar gets spent, or not. But the bottom line is, it's your vote. If you do not agree with high entry fees, or conversely, if "free" events don't seem to have their stuff together enough for your tastes, don't complain, just don't spend the time to come to that event. Simple.
Of course, considered, critical opinions are always acceptable to me concerning Trans Iowa, but generally those that give the offering of praise or criticism carry more influence if they have actually ridden in the event. I would assume the same for most promoters/organizations that do this sort of stuff. But be that as it may, the bottom line for me is that if you've invested something: Time, money, and physical/mental efforts, then you've got a stump to stand on. Entry fees and costs are a part of that equation.
Some things to consider before you sign on for that next event.