I’m Impressed

January 10th, 2011 at 12pm was members-only event registration for the Cascade Bicycle Club (CBC). It turned out to be a fiasco. Their computer servers were immediately overloaded and people spent hours trying to log onto the site and register for events, primarily RSVP, to no avail. CBC has had a year fraught with problems concerning executive directorship and overall governance of the club. The failed event registration was yet another CBC disappointment for it’s members. The next day, CBC (reinstated) Executive Director, Chuck Ayers, had this to say on their blog:

Dear members,

I’m very sorry about the problems we encountered during yesterday’s registration process and for the frustration it caused you, our members. Yesterday’s level of service fell well below our customer service standards. We value your support and membership very highly, and do not take the situation lightly.

While we carefully diagnose the problems,  our immediate next step is to come up with a plan to rectify the situation as best we can for all those who tried to register for RSVP but couldn’t. Because RSVP is a “limited” rider event and is currently sold out, our team is already investigating a number of options. You can expect a follow-up announcement from us by next week, hopefully sooner.

However, with this said, we will certainly correct the system for next year.

Thank you for your continued patience and support of the Cascade Bicycle Club.

Chuck Ayers
Executive Director

There are fifty comments to this blog apology, many suggesting that Cascade handle future event registration in a much different manner. A great number of people suggested the use of a lottery system. Well guess what? CBC and Chuck Ayers took note and this was posted on their blog yesterday:

Announcing RSVP2

January 21st, 2011 by M.J. KellyAccording to our history, the Ride from Seattle to Vancouver, BC & Party (RSVP) was born of calamity. In 1980, the eruption of Mount St. Helens interrupted Cascade’s marquee event, the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic. With uncertain road conditions in southwest Washington, an alternative double century was needed. Thus, Seattle to Vancouver was born.

While the current route bears little resemblance to the original bike tour, much credit goes to Jon Jacobson and Dennis Noson for the concept and route scouting in 1980 and 1981. Approximately 40 people participated in the inaugural three-day ride, from Seattle to Bellingham to Vancouver then to the Tswassen ferry to Sidney and down Vancouver Island to Victoria and home on the Princess Marguarite.

The event lapsed in 1982 and was canceled in 1986 due to The World’s Fair Expo in Vancouver. This year, therefore, marks the 3oth  anniversary RSVP event.

RSVP’s popularity has risen steadily over the years, hitting 1,300 riders in 2010. Demand for the event is so high that it sells out in hours. This year, in fact, members clamoring to register brought down our web servers.

“Why don’t you make it bigger?” we are continually asked.

If RSVP were double or triple in size, it would be a different event. RSVP is lauded precisely because it offers a different experience from the Seattle to Portland double-century, which draws 10,000 riders. The road support on RSVP is less, and riders are generally more experienced to handle the more challenging terrain on the route to Vancouver.

After the servers crashed, letting so many of our members down, the Cascade staff went to work brainstorming solutions. And so out of the registration calamity of 2011, Ride from Seattle to Vancouver BC & Party 2 was born.

30th ANNIVERSARY AND A NEW EVENT

RSVP2 will take place the same weekend as RSVP, but will depart a day later. Riders on RSVP2 will depart from Seattle for Bellingham on Saturday, Aug. 6 and arrive for the party in Vancouver on Sunday, Aug. 7. The rider limit will be 1,400 riders, identical to RSVP. This route will be the same. The road support services will be the same. These measures will ensure that the event flavor will be the same as well.

The registration process, however, will be remarkably different. For 2011, registrations for RSVP2 will be offered only to Cascade members on a lottery basis.

LOTTERY RULES

  1. Only current members may enter the RSVP2 lottery.
  2. You must have an account on the online registration system to participate. Set your account up at http://shop.cascade.org any time.
  3. Your name, email and current Cascade membership number are required when signing up for the lottery.
  4. You can only sign up for the lottery once.
  5. We will offer a “group” lottery entry for two to six Cascade members under one lottery ticket. If that one ticket is drawn then all six members will be allowed to register. This is to ensure your whole group is either all in or all out.
  6. Individuals may sign up for the lottery, but you cannot be in a group lottery entry and an individual lottery entry simultaneously.
  7. The lottery registration will open in mid-February and will close 10 days later. The lottery open date will be announced on www.cascade.org, our FacebookTwitter, the Cascade blog and through Braking News
  8. It does not matter when you sign up for the lottery during those 10 days. It’s not necessary to sign up on the first day as the lottery draw will be randomly generated by a computer.
  9. There is no cost to participate in the lottery.
  10. Lottery winners will be notified via email with instructions on how to register.
  11. If you register, but decide not to ride, you can return your registration for a refund, per our refund policy. Registrations are not transferrable, but are refundable until 30 days prior to the event.

LOTTERY BENEFITS

The benefits of a lottery system are many. There will be no rush to register at a precise time, so you do not need to be at a computer to access the Internet to register before the event closes.

You can sign up for the lottery at your leisure, provided you do it within the ten days that it’s open.

By using a group lottery entry, you’ll know if your riding partners made it in with you. If riding with your partners is less important, we recommend getting an individual lottery entry.

LOOKING AHEAD

We hope that this new event will absorb much of the demand to ride from Seattle to Vancouver. RSVP1 is sold out, and we expect the second to fill through the lottery. This, unfortunately, does mean some members will not get in. With more members than RSVP slots, we simply cannot accommodate all who might want to ride the event each year. However, we hope that by producing a second RSVP event and by using a lottery registration, the process will be more efficient and fair.

This year we will evaluate the lottery process to determine if we’ll use it for RSVP registration next year. We will also evaluate the new RSVP2 event to ensure we can continue to provide the same level of service you’ve come to expect from a Cascade event.

Thank you for your support, and we look forward to partying with all the RSVP riders in Vancouver this August!

The Cascade Bicycle Club team

I am super impressed that Cascade listened to members and is taking such quick action to try to rectify the registration debacle. Way to go CBC! This goes a long way in helping to restore the faith that I have in this club.

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