Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Rolling With The Changes

From my "DK My Way" ride last June
Registration season is in full swing it seems. Trans Iowa v14 registration went live yesterday, the Dirty Kanza 200 registration details, which weren't supposed to have been put out until the 10th, but some eager gravel related site slipped up, (No- not went out yesterday, and some mountain bike events opened up registration for next year's events as well.

This post will focus mostly on what is happening with the DK200's affairs as I see them. so........

NOTE: Large doses of "my opinion" will be handed out in gloppy dollops today. You've been forewarned.....
First and foremost, all of what you and I have witnessed over the past five years in regard to the Dirty Kanza 200 is due to the event's successes. Those successes are because of the riders. Yes, the demand, (in other words, the riders who want to come to Kansas every June to ride) has caused all of the changes you have seen in recent years with this event. The changes are reactions to this higher demand. So, anyone who balks at the price of entry, the new lottery system in place for choosing riders, or has any beef with not having full support stations or what have you has to keep in mind that nothing would have changed at all had the demand remained the same or went lower. 
 The beauty of the Flint Hills is stunning
So, if you don't like it, then simply don't participate. Vote with your dollars. Otherwise, in my opinion, any grousing folks do is a moot point. The DK Promotions team are not the "bad guys" in this. They are just keeping their heads above the water and reaping a bit of benefit in doing so. I would suggest that if the "dollar per mile" entry fee for the 200 is too rich for you, then your decision is simple. It isn't like there are no other gravel events in Kansas, or the Mid-west, or the nation. No, there are over 400 other events to choose from 
Those chasing the "grail cup" for 5 DK200 finishes may have a beef with this new way of doing things, but the DK Promotions folks are saying that they are taking those folks into consideration for spots in their lottery process. So, that shouldn't be at issue if the DK folks can make that work. 
Changes are tough for many of us, and the DK200 has been changing every year for.......well a while now. It seems that nothing stays the same with that event from year to year. Maybe this is their problem. A public relations issue. Perhaps. I really think it boils down to something else which I have noted over the course of 13 years of putting on Trans Iowa. 
In my opinion, the issue is that participants want things to be easier and guaranteed. Especially when the event is set up in such a way that chance occurrences, weather, or other factors beyond the control of anyone can play a huge role in the outcome of a participant. Take the lottery that the DK200 is going to instigate. Folks want some reassurances that past participation and goal seeking will be recognized. The DK200 is saying that they will do this in some manner. It's a sticky wicket that I feel might be a landmine unless their process is transparent and expectations are set up in advance. That is yet to be seen. Folks want to know that they can get in as a group, so the DK has had to instigate a policy for that as well. 
Then there is the "easy button" everyone wants to be able to push. The biggest deal the DK200 has to rekon with is "aid" for riders out on the course. People want regular "aid stations", such as you might find in running events, which, in my opinion, waters down the challenge of the DK200. Look.....honestly, there are tougher courses. Take Gravel Worlds, for instance. Take what was "Odin's Revenge". That was way, way tougher. I'm sure other events are as well, and many, if not all of them have no outside support allowed. But that doesn't stop the folks from demanding aid stations, and at $200.00 a pop for the 200 miler, they are going to expect some "bennies" on their investment into the event. 
Changes. Many of us don't really like them, but they are one of the only guarantees in life. I suspect that the DK200 will sell out once again and after a year no one will be ruffling any feathers about this change anymore. It will just be the way it is now. People get twisted and angry up front but generally speaking, this goes away in the end. 
 But the constantly changing entry fee and calls for more benefits from riders are probably going to come to a head at some point. Obviously, the DK200 cannot expect to continue to increase the entry fee in such a dramatic fashion unless there are some features that are coming with it. Otherwise, I would predict some blow-back from participants, and honestly, that has already happened to a degree. Of course, this is all just my conjecturing and opinionated opinioning on things, so take it for what it's worth.


Mrtwinpipe said...

Give out a belt buckle and charge 500 bucks and they'll come flocking to your door

Dave said...

I feel that anyone reading this who has not participated in DK should also know that there is an incredible amount of volunteers who work for hours making the event what it is. Namely the Jeep clubs who used their own equipment and 20+ hours of time picking up riders. I would not expect them to do this for free and when I needed one, the driver did not accept anything other than a thank you. I would only think that it is fair to compensate some of these folks for their efforts.
Id love to know if they are in any way paid.

Lastly-DK can be its own thing and if fees are a part of that, supply and demand will bear out the true tolerances of riders' ambitions and pocketbooks. I love free solitary rides but I can also understand the appeal for a larger production.

I also applaud Jim C's efforts to breathe life into that part of Kansas. It's full of great people and I wish them the very best.