The Swampman 100 bike ride was held last Saturday and organized by the YMCA. The bike ride runs through the remote roads of the Osceola National Forest, and it was fortunate in that no one needed medical attention. It was nothing less then an embarrassment to the YMCA name as well as the Baker County community.
The event was planned to support ride lengths varying from 15 miles to 100 miles. I chose to do the 100-mile length but found the ride unsupported after 38 miles. The items provided at the SAG (support and gear) stations consisted of only water and generic cola (they even had diet cola of all things).
I was embarrassed for our community when a rider (not a local) arrived at the finish after me who likewise attempted the 100-mile length and found the SAG stations empty. I knew how badly he was counting on those SAGs being there, as I was. He mentioned to the director that there was no one at the last SAG station.
There was no response, just a “So what?” attitude. Personally, I had to shorten my ride due to bonking (depleted of energy). As it was, I had to stop twice and lie on the side of the road just to keep going. A few more miles would have had me in need of medical attention. At the finish I found what could have been for me a lifesaving meal, snacks and a rented sound system. Yes, a rented sound system with tunes at the finish area in lieu of adequate snacks during the ride itself.
This event was not well-advertised and from the way it was conducted it appears as if the YMCA would prefer that no one participate to save them the hassle. If the YMCA is going to do an event like this, they need to do it right or not do it at all.
This was also a squandered opportunity to build up more interest in cycling here in Baker County, where it is largely non-existent. Most importantly, if the ride is not drastically reduced in length, or supported adequately, I know that there will be preventable medical incidents in the future, as there nearly was this past weekend.
Glen St. Mary