Friday, October 23, 2009

T.I.V6 Thoughts: Part II

<==Image courtesy of the Spot website
Last week I ranted a bit on Trans Iowa Radio and how I was getting a bit tired of saying what it was, and having people expect that it would be something entirely different. One of the comments I got was in reference to Spot Tracking and how perhaps it might be used in Trans Iowa to help diffuse the situation for me and the support/loved ones out there that are wondering "where the heck is my racer at now."
I put out word that I wanted to survey the potential field for the guys/gals that already had a Spot device, or were in the market for one. I got a lot of varied reactions to this, and today's post will cover my responses to those.
First off, I can not say at this time how, or even if, the Spot Trackers will be used in T.I.V6. Obviously they cost money, and I am looking into a possibility of a service that handles events like this that would be outfitting us with tracking devices. As of now the size of our roster likely will be bigger than their fleet of trackers. Thus the survey. Okay, I hope everybody has that straight now. By the way- if this happens- it will not cost the racers in T.I.V6 a dime.
Now on to the responses and my comments...........
I'm a Luddite- I don't want a tracking device on me!!: Yes, there are folks out there that don't care, want, or need a tracking device and I get that. The thing these folks might want to know though is that as the Race Directors, d.p. and I are tracking you! So, maybe we don't know where you are at on course all the time, but we do our best to find out what progress is, and obviously the DNF line lets us know when you are done. So, the Spot devices would merely be an extension of that fact. It doesn't mean we would come and get you, because we wouldn't. It doesn't mean you are not self sufficient, self supporting- because you are. Nothing really changes in terms of the event as you techno-phobes would see it. That said, if you really do not want one, no sweat. I get that.

I Don't Want/Can't Afford A Spot Tracker-But I'd Get One If Ya Made Me: Once again, we are not going to make anyone buy a Spot Tracker. If this happens it will be funded through sponsorship, or by "other means" yet to be determined. Obviously, you are welcome to buy one if you are so inclined. Also obvious- you can bring yours if you own one. If you don't have one and don't want to buy one, we may be able to outfit you with one and then you would return it post event. Again- if it happens at all.

Will there be enough "Cell Tower" coverage for a rider to make a cell phone call if said rider needs medical assistance or completely bonks? : Here's the deal- Cell coverage in the boonies of Iowa can be hit and miss, but you can figure on these three tips to get you by 95% of the time. #1: Any paved road, especially U.S. Highways, will likely have cell coverage within a mile or so either side of that road, maybe more. #2: Valleys are your enemy, hill tops are your friend. #3: If all else fails, find the nearest farm house. You usually will be in line of sight of at least one. If not, get on top of the hill!
That said- Know your strengths and know your bodies signals. This is an ultra-endurance event. If you have never done a multi-hour event, a marathon, or a 12-24 hour event, you might want to be very careful here. If there is ever any questions in your mind about your ability to be clear minded and have the physical strength to carry on, stop. Rest awhile. Re-evaluate your situation, and don't be stupid. It's just a silly gravel road ride afterall. It isn't worth losing your life over, or causing yourself physical harm over. Make the call in to DNF and get your ride coming. There will be other chances for gravely glory down the line.
Will there be a place for a riders "Driver", essentially a spouse or buddy, to hang out with WiFi and a computer or cell phone to go save the rider if said he/she fails, gets stomped on by cows, or drowns in possible sink hole? : (Yes- this is an actual question sent in. My favorite one too.) Okay, we will be working on a cheaper deal for folks to stay at a local motel, which would have WiFi free. As for a race ending deal, we are in talks with a potential sponsor that may get us hooked up with a really cool, rustic, Iowa relevant finish line that might just work out as a great place to hang out. Cell coverage: Yes. WiFi- probably not there. We'll see.....
That said, we stress that all riders have a cell phone and know how to use it! Riders are responsible for themselves and must arrange their own communication to support people! We are not going to provide any means of contacting your riders or support folks. YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN OUT THERE!
The GPS deal (if it happens) will only be there for entertainment and for folks outside of the event to follow tracks of their rider of interest. Spot trackers have a 911 button in case of an emergency, but obviously we won't be going to get them. (Or at least it should be obvious by now)

So, Are Racers Going To Be Tracking Each Other? No! This won't happen unless support people call racers with updates they are getting on their phones. I don't recommend they do that, but I also don't see that as being very helpful anyway. Probably would be more demoralizing than encouraging, but an offense punishable by DNF if I found out. At any rate, the point is that the only reasons anybody would be getting a Spot Tracker to carry at T.I.V6 is for the "audience" to follow along at any moment that is convenient to them. This means I quit getting the 3am in the morning, "How's my boy doing?" calls, the "Where's John Doe right now? Did he make it to checkpoint #2?" calls, and the all to often received "How far along are they now?" calls. Nope! These folks could just look it up on an internet page that would display every Spot trackers tracks on an overlay of an Iowa map.

But who am I kidding? I would still get all of those calls!

Like I said, this whole deal might just fall through, or not materialize anyway. And if it doesn't?
Then no T.I.Radio, no tracking, no nuthin. Just a self supported event that would leave loved ones, girl friends, wives, moms and dads, relatives, and fans chewing their fingernails until I posted the results the following Monday.

And lots of frantic phone calls in the middle of the night........

And maybe that's how it should be.

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