Sunday, May 05, 2024

Moving The Goalposts: Reactions

 Last Wednesday I posted my article here called "Moving The Goalposts" which covered  how the "DFL" celebrations might be getting "gamed" by riders. I also brought up the subject of moving or relaxing cut-off times for events overall and for checkpoints in events. 

There were some thoughtful comments on that piece from some of you and examples of how last placing an event draws out some negative actions in some cases. There was a comment to the effect that a cut-off time should be upheld despite the heart-tug to allow people to continue. 

Now, that said, there are a lot of people that likely feel contrary to those comments and feel that yes- last place should be celebrated and that cut-off times are arbitrary and dumb. I know this because that is feedback I got personally from people commenting on how I ran Trans Iowa. So, yeah, I know those people are definitely out there

Because it is pretty well known how I feel about those subjects, perhaps those dissenters did not bother to engage with me on those subjects, but in case you are not aware, my thoughts follow here. 

My over-arching theory on running a cycling event is that you have to assume that somebody, at some point, will try to cheat. People will do this at free events, events with no prizing, and events with zero media coverage. I know, because I have witnessed this over the period of my cycling career both as a competitor and as an event director. So, imagine the motivations to cheat if there is any sort of outside attention or valuable prizing at an event. Those chances of someone gaming the system, or outright cheating, is going to go way up. That is fact that cannot be disputed because we are talking about humans here. 

So, unless an event director is hyper-vigilant and ahead of the curve when it comes to cheating or gaming a system, you can bet that the cheating and gaming are happening. So, when comments dropped that people were noting that DFL prizes were being gamed, or whenever I hear that people cheat at events, I am not at all surprised. That's not only on the participants, it is also on the event itself. This is why I say that event directing is not for the weak of heart. It's no fun to find out people are cheating, gaming your event, or acting like a fool. It is really no fun to enforce rules, disqualify someone, or un-invite people to your event going forward, all things I have experienced as an event director. 

And if those things rub an event director the wrong way, then I would suggest that that person may not be cut out for the job, or doesn't care, or worse, both. I don't want anything to do with an event run like that. Your mileage may vary. 

Cut-off times are another thing I don't think should be messed with unless you want to change them for the following year. But during an event? No. That's not cool. That is definitely "moving the goalposts". And disregarding the cut-off for certain individuals is also wrong on many levels. Actually, holding to a faster cut-off time will eliminate people gaming to be DFL. That's my observation on the issue. Extending the cut-off, in my opinion, is not the way to do it. But I don't run events anymore, so whatever.... I'm just an old man with a blog, right? 

And finally, there are a LOT of gravel events everywhere. You do not have to do the ones with big, fancy promotions, triple-digit entry fees, and the ones the websites blather on about. Well, unless you want to do them, that's totally up to you. Don't let anyone dictate what gravel events are cool and what ones are "bucket-list" events because, well, those sites and media wonks don't know everything out there. There are many good events that are run well and cater to what you might like.


CrossTrail said...

Changing the cut-off time due to weather conditions, but keeping the route. Changing the route due to weather conditions, but keeping the cut-off time. Somehow, one is "not cool" and "moving the goal posts," while the other is lauded.

I submit that both decisions are within the purview of the Race Director, who is free manage the event without arbitrary rules imposed by others. That was the very nature of the gravel scene that I loved.

Guitar Ted said...

@CrossTrail - Condition specific versus doing changes for marketing/social/popular reasons. And then sometimes you don't do anything, even if the conditions "suck".

So, it all depends upon the motivations of the race directors, right?

I would still hold that changing cut-off times during an event is not cool.

Josh Lederman said...

I believe that Guitar Ted is the gold standard for gravel race directing, and any departure from his guidance, though permissible, is a lowering of the standard. This sentiment also extends to Matthew Lee's approach to TD.

Guitar Ted said...

@Josh Lederman - Hey, thanks. You're too kind. And again - THANK YOU for all those years that you supported Trans Iowa.

CrossTrail said...

Mark, I love that you decided how you were going to run your events and stuck with it, especially in the face of developing technologies and conventional demands to hit the "Easy Button." I also believe that you inspired countless others to start and run their own events in their own way, without sanctioning rules or quasi-sanctioning expectations of others. There was no "standardized test." Race Directors had freedom to run their events their way and riders had freedom whether to support them. Your example spearheaded a grass roots revolution for a staggering number and variety of gravel events. That's quite a legacy, which inherently does not depend on any particular rule that you chose to adopt for your events.

I love the variety of grass roots gravel events that still exist and still continue to crop up. And I'll look at any given event as it is and decide whether to participate.

So, I'm not advocating a position on any given gravel event's rule on cut-off times. That's for each Race Director to decide and I love the freedom that entails. I'll close with your own words. "Don't let anyone dictate what gravel events are cool."

S.Fuller said...

I've had to make post-race adjustments once in my life, and while it was due to an unintentional derivation from the course, it was a derivation none-the-less. Some people learned quite a bit about the "auto-reroute" function that day. While they wer disappointed, in the end, they understood what happened and why we did what we did.