Saturday, January 24, 2009

2008 - How to Scuttle a 4X 508 Team Entry

In 2008 the lure of the 508 was still with me. My friend Rob and I conceived a plan to enter the 2008 Furnace Creek 508 as a 4-man team; Rob had a couple of friends that were potential team members.

Since the four of us did not live in the same area, I considered that there were unique complications that we would have to deal with right from the start. I felt that the main complication would be to judge the level of commitment for each team member before we could make a serious entry bid.

After discussing my concern with Rob I crafted a message to all of the tentative team members to address the question: How committed are you?

A few weeks passed and we got no response; it's easy to say that you'll do the 508. It's a bit more difficult to commit and actually do the 508.

The message said:


The 508 is a huge undertaking. The act of riding the bike is just a small part of having a successful event; the preparation and commitment is by far the most difficult stage.

Every team member needs to take a hard look at themselves and ask, "How committed am I?" The answer to that question cannot be a silent personal answer. That answer must be verbalized to every other team member. We all need to have complete confidence that each respective team member has a 100% sense of commitment to do what it takes to complete the 4X-Furnace Creek 508.

While I look forward to participating as a 4X Team entry, the prospect of negotiating through the team-dynamic introduces a whole new set of uncertainties. Because each of the team members here is not collocated, there will be additional uncertainty because of the distances between us. Typically 508 teams develop and train together leading up to the 508.

We must have a complete understanding of all rules and requirements. Take the time to read the rules a couple of times; we need to remove the uncertainty of a possible DQ because of a rules violation. For example, "Rule 14 D. Each team must enter with two or four racers (or eight if it is in the eight-racer tandem category). If one or more of the team members gets hurt or cannot ride, no substitutions or additions are allowed to their team roster. -DQ". We need a commitment to participate. My initial interpretation of the rule is once we register there can be no substitutions.

Everyone here is a cyclist; Training and physical preparation is a personal process. Ask yourself if you're willing to show up in October with the endurance and climbing skills that it takes to complete your stages. The 508 is a no-drafting solo event; you may want to prepare for that by doing most (or all) of your training solo; be prepared for wind. Before you can answer the commitment question you've got to consider the Team Entry rules. The rules state that if a team rider cannot complete a stage, the team must return to the last time station and start again with the next rider in the sequence (Rule 14 C.). Failure to complete an assigned stage will put a burden on the team's ability to complete the 508.

Every team member is responsible for the condition of their equipment. Everything should be in 100% operating condition well before the start of the 508. New bike, new wheels, new chain, new cassette, new chain-rings, etc. should be proven on a few shake-down rides before the October start. Discovering a problem on the day of the ride could result in a team DQ. Ask yourself if you can remove all uncertainties with your equipment before we line up at the starting line.

Support Van:
Each team member will be responsible to share in all of the support van rental, set-up, operating and maintenance expenses. We'll need to rent the van and have it ready for inspection on the Friday before the start. Those expenses will include: Rental Fees (including insurance), gas, lighting, signage, bicycle racks, etc. Ask yourself if you are able to commit to those expenses (and any other) that will arise. We need to have that financial commitment on the table before we can proceed as a team.

You're obviously going to be responsible to pay your portion of the entry fee and get yourself and all of your equipment to Santa Clarita early in the day on Friday before the start. In addition to that, every team member is required to share in the expenses for the accommodations at the start and for the accommodations at the finish (whether we make it to the finish or not). Ask yourself if you are able to commit to those expenses (and any other) that will arise. We'll also need to have that financial commitment on the table before we can proceed as a team.

This message is not meant to be the complete list of things needed to do the 508. The whole task is big. It is huge from the very beginning of our preparation. And it does not end until we shake hands and say good-bye back at the starting line in Valencia.

The 508 is a special event.
The 508 deserves 100% commitment.
Being part of a 4X_508 Team demands 100% commitment

How committed are you?

Eric Thrasher Troili

1 comment:

Rob James said...

Yep. That little experiment sure went well, didn't it?

I'm liking much more our 2X option.