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Level Playing Field & Self-Supported Racing

Ok, I will play…but 1st let me say how much I enjoy following the TD &GDR and all the racers….my hats off to all of you self supported racers!!!!!

With regards to any 'rule/ban' on fairings, sat radios, cell phones, GPS or Spot, I think we should not focus on if that particular piece of tech gives some 'advantage' real or perceived, but rather…..

Level Playing Field:
Does it create an unequal playing field? I.e.: Is it only available to one (or some) once the first had used it??

Self-Supported Racing:
Does use of the questioned device/technology automatically force the rider to receive outside support or automatically force the rider to pre-arrange support down the road? I.e.: does having it and using it force the rider who chooses to carry/use this technology to ride "supported"?

And…since we can all access and use the above items I say none of them create an unequal playing field (except perhaps for the smart guy who makes something work the 1st time)

And…. since none of the above technology forces a rider to get outside support from an other person (either you honor the self-supported concept or you do not), I say the use or non-use of any of the above items is fine as long as they are not used to receive or pre-arrange support

And finally
Past efforts/records:
It's just about impossible to truly create an 'equal playing field' across time (yr 1 vs yr 5 etc), can not be done and it's silly to try

Ok I had my say, bash away……
 

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nathan bay
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Good one

But you forgot an important point for arguing, doesn't ones bank roll give them and advantage or disadvantage? I mean a guy who eats top ramen can't be expected to ride as well as a guy who eats filet mignon can he?
 

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Blue Dot Junkie
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I'm surprising myself by even replying here...but I might have a good perspective to contribute from.

Con: With Mary out there, I've obviously been glued to the computer screen, wondering "why is she still in that town?! Or, is she still moving this late?! Yikes! Why is she still at that house?- it's given me plenty to worry about. Without it I'd perhaps be blissfully unaware and she'd be on her journey just the same.

Pro: The ability to track her, and other racers, has undoubtedly made the following of this race more accessible. While there are obviously arguments for & against that in itself, I believe it is a good thing- speaking from what I've seen, the number of people following the race is huge. There are comments all over the TD blog, and on the personal blogs alluding to the inspiration the fans have felt, and the vicarious experience they've enjoyed. I believe that motivation is valuable beyond the "fishbowl" (my cheeky term for the endurance community at-large) and well into the real world. This racing is a great story to tell & I'm very happy to hear it finally getting out.

Moot:
1) I don't buy the "gadet as a crutch" thing. Its value is limited in the backcountry, where emergency response times are slow no matter what. (tissue death is 2 hrs from incident, right?) I think most racers recognize this... same goes for cell phones- they're a significant psychological detriment in my eyes- but so is overpacking, under-training, etc. I say let the racers make their *mistakes.*

2) gadget as advantage- from my Tour Divide Spouse perspective, this hasn't panned out. As a timely example, several of us were hoping Steve G would catch Mary, or she'd slow down over the last several days. They were within 5 miles of one another for hours! Neither of the two racers knew it until today- after 3 days of constantly being within 15 miles. To my knowledge, Mary has had little or no beta from the SPOT. Far more beta comes from racer call-ins.

So that's what I've got, pretty much.
Thanks to the poster for pulling this discussion out of the race threads.
 

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nathan bay
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I don't envy your situation, well I kind of do ...I mean I wish I had a bad ass cyclist for a special lady friend, but if I did and she was out there riding she would be carrying a spot. I don't see how anyone could logically argue that a spot helps a recer any more than call-ins.
 

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Costs

nathan bay said:
But you forgot an important point for arguing, doesn't ones bank roll give them and advantage or disadvantage? I mean a guy who eats top ramen can't be expected to ride as well as a guy who eats filet mignon can he?
If we look at the cost of only the tech items mentioned, I would contend that their cost is a total non issue (with the possible exception of fairings) relative to the overall cost of doing the GDR or TD. So cost in their case is a non-issue

Cost in general:
As long as it's 'self supported' racing no one is going to be able to 'buy' their result. I believe that this was one of MC's rationales for 'self support' format in the beginning but I will let him extrapolate on the subject if he wants to
 

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Blue Dot Junkie
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nathan bay said:
I don't envy your situation, well I kind of do ...I mean I wish I had a bad ass cyclist for a special lady friend, but if I did and she was out there riding she would be carrying a spot. I don't see how anyone could logically argue that a spot helps a recer any more than call-ins.
Well, it's been stressful for sure... I worry a lot. But I worry a lot anyhow; it's like a hobby of mine. Admittedly, the added safety of carrying that gizmo is nice, but not as comforting as you might think.

BUT- the worry & stress & time it's taken from work (uh, I hope there aren't too many customers reading this) has all been worth it. This kind of racing is a great opportunity for personal growth- which, getting back to my "pro" point, can be infectious by way of the spectator-ship of the leaderboard.
 

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Spot

BrendanC said:
I'm surprising myself by even replying here...but I might have a good perspective to contribute from.

Con: With Mary out there, I've obviously been glued to the computer screen, wondering "why is she still in that town?! Or, is she still moving this late?! Yikes! Why is she still at that house?- it's given me plenty to worry about. Without it I'd perhaps be blissfully unaware and she'd be on her journey just the same.

Pro: The ability to track her, and other racers, has undoubtedly made the following of this race more accessible. While there are obviously arguments for & against that in itself, I believe it is a good thing- speaking from what I've seen, the number of people following the race is huge. There are comments all over the TD blog, and on the personal blogs alluding to the inspiration the fans have felt, and the vicarious experience they've enjoyed. I believe that motivation is valuable beyond the "fishbowl" (my cheeky term for the endurance community at-large) and well into the real world. This racing is a great story to tell & I'm very happy to hear it finally getting out.

Moot:
1) I don't buy the "gadet as a crutch" thing. Its value is limited in the backcountry, where emergency response times are slow no matter what. (tissue death is 2 hrs from incident, right?) I think most racers recognize this... same goes for cell phones- they're a significant psychological detriment in my eyes- but so is overpacking, under-training, etc. I say let the racers make their *mistakes.*

2) gadget as advantage- from my Tour Divide Spouse perspective, this hasn't panned out. As a timely example, several of us were hoping Steve G would catch Mary, or she'd slow down over the last several days. They were within 5 miles of one another for hours! Neither of the two racers knew it until today- after 3 days of constantly being within 15 miles. To my knowledge, Mary has had little or no beta from the SPOT. Far more beta comes from racer call-ins.

So that's what I've got, pretty much.
Thanks to the poster for pulling this discussion out of the race threads.
I have a SPOT, but its not for me, its for my wife (ok it is for me cause now she sort of, kind of says, well I guess, OK, you can go do the AZT or CTR etc)
It will not make me any faster and it will not make me make bad judgment calls, but back to my main point, it can not make the playing field un-level if anyone can use it

oh and GO Mary!!
My wife and I have been following her Spot and call ins closely!!!!!!!!
 

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Blue Dot Junkie
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trail717 said:
I have a SPOT, but its not for me, its for my wife (ok it is for me cause now she sort of, kind of says, well I guess, OK, you can go do the AZT or CTR etc)
It will not make me any faster and it will not make me make bad judgment calls, but back to my main point, it can not make the playing field un-level if anyone can use it

oh and GO Mary!!
My wife and I have been following her Spot and call ins closely!!!!!!!!
I'd agree- carrying the SPOT is much, much more for me & other followers than it is for the racer. I kid you not, I've probably checked it 20 times today. Maybe more.
 

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trail717 said:
I have a SPOT, but its not for me, its for my wife (ok it is for me cause now she sort of, kind of says, well I guess, OK, you can go do the AZT or CTR etc)
It will not make me any faster and it will not make me make bad judgment calls, but back to my main point, it can not make the playing field un-level if anyone can use it

oh and GO Mary!!
My wife and I have been following her Spot and call ins closely!!!!!!!!
i agree. use of the spot as a simple locator in no way gives the rider an advantage... if anything a disadvantage over riders who are not carrying a spot (if they choose to take the time to track other racers with the spot).
use of the help or 911 options though do in my mind make things less self supported than if not carrying a spot. in this regard, and in remaining consistent with the cell phone rule I think it would be logical for the GDR to allow Spots but with the stipulation that any rider who sends a help or 911 signal is DQ'd.
 

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grroes said:
use of the help or 911 options though do in my mind make things less self supported than if not carrying a spot. in this regard, and in remaining consistent with the cell phone rule I think it would be logical for the GDR to allow Spots but with the stipulation that any rider who sends a help or 911 signal is DQ'd.
i'm curious to hear how the use of the 911 feature on the spot is any less self-support (either de facto or in spirit) than carrying a cell phone for 911-Only purposes...the possible exception being that the SPOT actually works immediately sending lat/long coords. to the closest dispatch and with the mobile phone, we're sorta kidding ourselves into thinking it will work everywhere for 911 or definitively have battery juice when needed.

TD `08 rule: TD racers who use their SPOT to signal 911 and such a signal results in extraction or support, DQ is issued.

also curious to know what people thought of the two TD international riders (not carrying operable international cell phones) using SPOT devices to signal 911 when they were first on the scene to a car rolling off the road at the top of Ute pass in Tour Divide this year. Abuse? Smart use? We didn't entertain DQ for their actions but it was a use we did not anticipate for the device and were thus surprised. It was certainly good stewardship for a racer to try and help save a local, though.
 

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grroes said:
I think it would be logical for the GDR to allow Spots but with the stipulation that any rider who sends a help or 911 signal is DQ'd.
Good rule in principle. We had it for the TD but Alan Goldsmith won't be unqualified for issuing a 911 call which potentially saved a 16-year-olds life.

It's all how you use the tools... Be appropriate. Be reasonable.

That said, this whole debate is pretty silly. Everyone's opinion on gadgetry and self-support is completely subjective and, often, hypocritical. No cell phones but you can use a GPS? No SPOTs but mp3 players and radios are fine? Whatever.

If you think someone's accomplishment is less impressive because they carried and/or used a cell phone, you need your head check.

Later.
 

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nathan bay
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I have never read or heard that a GDR racer isn't allowed to have a spot if he or she chooses to do so. I could be totally wrong and if I am I'm sure someone will let me know.
I doubt anyone would be DQ'ed from the GDR for using their cell to potentially save someones life. There are exceptions to all rules.
 

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mathewsen said:
i'm curious to hear how the use of the 911 feature on the spot is any less self-support (either de facto or in spirit) than carrying a cell phone for 911-Only purposes...the possible exception being that the SPOT actually works immediately sending lat/long coords. to the closest dispatch and with the mobile phone, we're sorta kidding ourselves into thinking it will work everywhere for 911 or definitively have battery juice when needed.
oh, i don't at all think that it is any less self support than carrying a cell phone for 911 only purposes. it's pretty much exactly the same so that's why i was saying it would make sense for the rule regarding it's use to be the same... i.e. you're welcome to carry it but if you use it you are done.
 

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sizlinseagulsoup said:
Good rule in principle. We had it for the TD but Alan Goldsmith won't be unqualified for issuing a 911 call which potentially saved a 16-year-olds life.

It's all how you use the tools... Be appropriate. Be reasonable.

That said, this whole debate is pretty silly. Everyone's opinion on gadgetry and self-support is completely subjective and, often, hypocritical. No cell phones but you can use a GPS? No SPOTs but mp3 players and radios are fine? Whatever.

If you think someone's accomplishment is less impressive because they carried and/or used a cell phone, you need your head check.

Later.
i agree that it's all about how you use the tools but the problem is that everyone has different ideas about what's appropriate and reasonable, and when given the chance most people tend to stretch the limits of vague/unwritten rules, thus in the case of tools that have an ability to be used (and tend to be used) in such a way as to give someone a higher level of outside support (imo: cell phones, portable internet devices) it makes sense to me to ban the use of these devices.

problem is of course, as you said, everyone has a different idea of what gadgets do and don't add an advantage or diminish self support and so we end up with all these seemingly bizarre and petty discusions which I can't believe I am actually getting involved in right now.
 

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grroes said:
problem is of course, as you said, everyone has a different idea of what gadgets do and don't add an advantage or diminish self support and so we end up with all these seemingly bizarre and petty discusions which I can't believe I am actually getting involved in right now.
Geoff, I told you it would be a good idea to stay away from the MTBR forum! :)

Sorry, I don't mean to derail the derail thread, so if anyone feels the need to reply, maybe we could start up a new thread. But am I the only one disheartened by the bickering? A lot of the people chiming in just rolled of the route themselves just a few days or weeks ago. It would be great if you guys were sharing your trail stories, your adventures, the scenery you saw and friendship you shared with your fellow racers. Debating little rules? Questioning racer ethics? Sure, there's a time and a place. But now? As the events are going on? As races are being hard-fought and hard-won and the afterglow hasn't even worn off?

As far as rules go, doesn't it make the most sense that those who "organize" the race make the rules? These are, after all, organized events. If you choose to play, then play. It seemed to work wonderfully for both the Tour Divide and Great Divide Race this year. We even had a freelancer (Chris Plesko) who proved that doing your own thing is A-OK too.

P.S., Go Carl, Simon, Felix, Rainer, Jenn, Steven, Mary, Noah, Cullen and whoever else is still fighting the good fight! And congrats to all y'all who toed the line this year.
 

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nathan bay
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Good poin Jilleo,
I think it is great that both races exist. When a racer lines up at a starting line he or she knows the rules and chooses what race best suits their needs. If anyone is disputing that one race warrants more merit than the other I say this....the course doesn't offer that, your performance does. Those are my Jerry Springer "final thoughts".
 

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Thanks Jill. The drama that follows these type of races on this forum is petty. Everyone always has something to say.

I'd much rather be reading about the adventures of the racers rather than reading the bickering from the sideline.

Awesome job Geoff. I don't know you from Adam but I've been following your prep (more through Jill's blog because you might be the worst blogger in the world;) ) and cheering you on through the race. I hope you come back and give it another go.
 
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