The 12 Hours of Tsali is a pretty popular race put on by the nice folks at GoneRiding.com. I don't really have any bad complaints about them. I've done a few of their races all at Tsali but I think for the price of the entry fee an event T-shirt is the least they could do. They did have an event shirt but it cost you an extra $12 if you bought it online sight unseen which I actually thought about doing. I remember the past event shirts and they weren't that impressive. I've gotten a lot worse but they have all been free with registration. They did have the rumored spaghetti dinner but it was during the race which if you were really trying for the 12 hour win, stopping mid race for watered down spaghetti was out of the question. When I arrived at the event I checked out the shirts and yeah they sucked and the price had gone up to $15 so I knew I made the right move by not purchasing one. As I was registering I was told I needed to cough up $2 for the trail fee which is the norm for riding the Tsali trails. I would have thought surely my $64.95 would have covered a measly $2 trail fee. Not too happy about this I decided to write the lady a check for $2 instead of handing over the cash which she was not happy about but gave me a little satisfaction. About the $2 trail fee, I do not oppose paying to ride trails because I know first hand that building and maintaining trails cost money. The problem I have with the $2 I pay at Tsali is I haven't seen any improvements in the last 5 years other than removing fallen trees. There are some serious drainage problems, alot of pot holes that can take you down if your not paying attention and in some places the corridor is very narrow due to the brush creeping in on the trail. I've got the poison ivy to prove it. If your going to charge me $2 to ride the trail, use it to maintain it like you say you do. My mtn bike club doesn't charge to ride the local trails and I think we do a better job maintaining them. I hope it's more of a lack of volunteers rather than someone using it to fund their beer supply.
Back to my original topic, what I got for my now $66.94. This is really beginning to remind me of my cable company with all the little fees being tacked on. The entry fee started out as $60, then add on $4.95 for the online registration and another $2 to actually ride the trails.
After I paid all the fees gave some blood and urine samples and signed a form saying I wouldn't sue anybody I received my swag bag. The bag itself was a pretty white bag that was sturdy enough to be reused on another camping trip but in all reality it will probably end up taking up space in a landfill for the next 50 yrs. In the bag was a couple of pamphlets full of useless info trying to get me to buy their products (more stuff to take space in the landfill). I got a small packet of sunscreen which could save me from skin cancer one day so that right there folks might just be worth the $66.95. I also received the following Hammer products: an energy bar, Endurolytes, and some Heed endurance drink in a funny melon flavor which I have a feeling is going to suck. I guess if I got lost in the woods for several days during the race these 3 items might keep me from starving to death. That's worth the $66.95 right? So if I manage to survive getting lost in the woods and skin cancer due to the swag bag contents then when I do make it home I'll be able to wash my NTMBA kit with my really small sample of Sport Wash, some kind of fancy new detergent that says it improves the performance of your clothing. WTF?? Sounds like a watered down detergent that just doesn't wear out the fabric as fast to me. I just go the cheap man's route by only washing my lycra when it's really dirty. Kinda gross I know but I have to pay for my cycling kits, I'm not a sponsored rider. I won't offend any sponsors if my kit doesn't smell like fresh lavender. Last but not least there is the small b&w Trek sticker, I can't think of a way for this thing to help me out so I'll probably just toss it into my useless sticker pile or stick on the back of Olga's SUV. (I stuck an I-9 sticker on her window about 5 yrs ago as a prank and she never realized it). Now she actually owns a set of I-9's so the sticker finally has a purpose.
$66.95, was it worth the race? I still haven't decided. I had fun and would probably do it again as long as the price doesn't continue to go up and I don't have to burn vacation to do so. The only negative experience other than the entry fee price I had were a few folks who thought way to highly of themselves. I got cussed on more than one occasion by someone who felt I didn't get out of their way fast enough. Nothing slows me down more than someone being very rude behind me. I'll get over alot faster if you just ask politely. I guess some folks feel like they own the trail. We even had some lady get pissed off because she had to wait all of 3 minutes for us to back our camper into our campsite. There was no where for me to go and no room to pull over. I don't know what she wanted me to do but after we finally got out of her Highness's way I told her patience was a virtue as she drove by. I think that pissed her off a little more and she stopped for a half second like she wanted to fight us. I have never experienced this much hostility and impatience at a mountain bike race before. Alan, "Mr I get along with everyone" almost got into a fist fight with the guys next to us who were very rude about sharing a spot in the pits.
photo credit - Scooby's Snacks
I guess the $66.95 entry fee with no T-shirt was getting to everyone.