Expensive Organized Rides

As I sat indoors on an unseasonably cool, gloomy day today, it occurred to me that an organized ride is coming up that I was thinking about doing this year. I got out the laptop and jumped onto the ride’s website.

Oh, no! The ride was Saturday — and today is Sunday! That’s what I get for “thinking” about doing a ride, but not adding it to any kind of a schedule, and holding off on registration until I’m “sure” I want to ride it. I just — forgot.

I wonder, though, if that forgetting was any kind of a clue that maybe I really didn’t want to do the ride in the first place. I’ve written before about my ambivalent feelings toward organized rides — how they’re a way to get an expensive t-shirt. Then I changed my mind, and rode a few in the ensuing months. I enjoy the camaraderie of riding in a large group, but without the hassle of being in a pace line. Mostly, when I do organized rides, I keep to myself or stick with only one or two friends.

Waiting for the start of an organized ride early in the morning.
Waiting for the start of an organized ride early in the morning.

There’s another ride coming up in May that I haven’t done for several years, and would enjoy doing again. But when I looked at their registration page, the $60 entry fee put me off. It seems that what used to be $25 rides — $30 if registering on ride day — have now ballooned into costly ventures. I don’t know about you, but I think $40 is about as much as I care to pay if I’m going to join a t-shirt ride. I know it’s expensive to put them on, to provide the expected food and maybe drink at the end. I’ve volunteered as staff on a couple of rides, and I think I have an appreciation for the effort it takes to put one of these together. But I have to draw the line somewhere.

I’ll be passing up that ride in May, although I might do another one within a week or two of it. This time, I’ll make up my mind early, and be sure to get my registration taken care of — before the price goes up.



  1. says

    It’s all about supply and demand. If people pay the prices, they’ll continue to go up. A lot of the mountain rides around here are pretty steep (in price and in grade), but the money usually go towards a worthwhile cause.

  2. says

    My favorite organized ride is $95 to participate. It’s the Five Boroughs of NYC. If an organizations offers a superior event the higher price is easy to justify.

  3. says

    Two of my favorite rides up here are still $25, but I am doing the Seattle to Portland which is closer to $100. But having 200 miles of support I think that’s ok.

    I agree though I bike them alone, I think it’s more fun

  4. says

    I have ride fee sticker shock too. Recently one of my favorite rides (Gatorride.org) raised the price to $50. I decided not to go and rode one of my usual routes around home. This ride supports the YMCA but the fee is getting too high. A ride stopped doing after 1988 is the Houston-Austin MS150. The ride was great but getting the money from everyone was a major pain. I have to hand it to the MS150 organization for outsourcing their fundraising work though. The fees for that ride have went up several times.

    • says

      I’ve done the MS 150 a couple of times. It’s another one of those cycling events I would encourage all cyclists to do–tremendous fun. But like you, I hate to ask other people for money.

  5. says

    To go back to Aaron’s economic thought above, I tend to look at things in terms of “value for money.” Now that I can complete almost any distance self-supported, the SAG wagons and food/water stations aren’t as important to me as they once were. Still, there was a time when they were invaluable to me and the peace of mind they provided was definite value for my money.

    Nowadays, I’m looking for a unique experience or perhaps a worthy cause to make the ride worth my money. T-shirts aren’t high on my list for reasons to register. :) But, if the experience is worth it, I’ll certainly be willing to spend some money to participate.

  6. Don says

    This thread is interesting. We all have our price points and reasons for doing these organized rides whether it be for the challenge, to support the charity or to gain a new or fun experience. It seems to be what we value and is it that value within our price point. This year I have participated in a metric century to support a local center for the blind. In September I will probably do a metric ride to support cancer awareness. In a month I’m doing a 200K with 9,700 ft of climbing for the challenge. In May I am doing a century ride with my sister-in-law, who will be doing her first full century. This is a ride I would not be doing if not for her. And the most expensive of the rides I will do this year is the California Death Ride. This falls under both the challenge and experience categories. Given that, there are a number of local charity rides that I have no interest in riding because the route, charity or organization does not resonate with me. And of the rides I list here, the ride for the blind center and the cancer awareness ride are ones that I try to do annually because I support the causes. The others are fungible depending on my goals… and my wallet.

  7. says

    Interesting post. We are having the same pricing issues in the uk. Our sportives are costing around £30 which is about $50. Anyway I have a blog too. I didn’t comment to publicise it, I’m bored due to an injury and can’t get out on my bike. I’ve been longingly looking at sportives and thinking about doing some MTB as well as road events this year.
    Feel free to check it out http://2014bikeridesnorthants.blogspot.co.uk

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