Posts from 202005
COVID 19 UpdateHello to all with an interest in WORS - I am writing this to give some insight into our planning for 2020. As you can imagine (and as I'm sure many of you are experiencing), there's a lot of uncertainty in the world right now. WORS 2020 has already seen postponements and rescheduling. This post is intended to offer some transparency into to the current collective thought process of individual events and the series as a whole. This transparency should offer two important messages. The first, is that we put quite a bit of thought into just about everything that we do and want to continue to offer high quality event experiences to the greatest number of mountain bike riders as possible. And second, we may not have an answer (or the answer you'd like) at times, but chances are very good that if you've put some thought into it, so have we. We will always try to have empathy for everyone’s point of view. The anticipation of how things look, feel, and seem to you is the consideration and motivation for what we do. Our goal is to anticipate as many of your needs and desires as we can. We want you to enjoy the experience and each other, and to burden you with as few rules and procedures as possible. We are not perfect and never have been. So COVID 19, right? How are we deciding what to do? Well, we would all like to be participating in a great eight race series, breathing the same air, sharing the same portable toilets, (albeit individually), and enjoying the traditional WORS start countdown. The truth? We have almost no idea how this is all going to playout and what's going to be possible. What we DO know is that YOU would like to know, and sooner rather than later. HERE'S WHAT WE KNOW: • Any event held must follow the guidelines established by the federal, state, county and local authorities. That's a lot of layers, but in the track record of our events, race directors and local organizing committees have demonstrated that we can deal with these. Unfortunately all these layers can present obstacles previously not encountered. • The coronavirus pandemic recovery rules and conditions put in place are significant obligations. We need to address them with real solutions, not just a lip-service veneer that would pass casual inspection. • It isn’t anyone’s desire to offer a marginalized event experience, but this may prove to be the reality that we all must live with. It may have to be acceptable for this year, if we are going to race at all. • The combined events of WORS always have been and will continue to be a highly complicated effort in the best of times. It's a testament to the race directors, local organizing committees and volunteers that the series keeps running. • All of us want to get back to our normal lives. To ride and race bikes, hang out with old and new friends, and drink beer with our friends. • Our community, just like every other one in the country is desperately conflicted. People are suffering economically and want to get back to work, yet they are struggling with placing themselves and their loved ones at risk of coronavirus infection. Venues and communities love WORS and its participants, but there's an inherent and insidious cost this year that we all may have to contend with either in the short or long term. • FINALLY: Despite all of this, staying on course and producing WORS 2020 is in many ways the preferred option. HERE ARE THE CONCERNS: • Producing WORS 2020 safely isn't as easy as it may seem. • The safety of our competitors, staff, volunteers and communities remains our primary concern. • Social distancing at registration, at the start, on the course and at the finish will be a monumental challenge. • The potential for infection spread may be high. One racer could infect one volunteer or staffer, who could then infect many others. • Many of WORS participants travel significant distances to our events and travel enhances the negative consequences of the situation. • Availability of medical teams and the stress their involvement could potentially place on their primary duties is also a concern. • If we DO decide to move forward, there are a great many goalposts that could be moved, none of them requiring our feedback or consent. There are a lot of people with big red STOP buttons on their desks right now. Having just one of those buttons pushed while we're on the wrong side of it could not only cancel WORS this year, but jeopardize the future of the series. • WORS is currently in the red financially. All funds received this year have been either spent or are committed to expense already incurred. COVID DISTANCING MEASURES (operational possibilities for this year) • Moving to pre-registration only. • Small wave starts or individual time-trial starts. • Events without water stations. • Elimination or severe downsizing of awards ceremonies. • Revised concessions. • Temperature taking and/or screening questionnaires. • Mandatory mask use (I was saving the best for last) throughout the event...even when racing. OTHER THOUGHTS • Virtual events? Maybe. Not sure we have the resources (financial and otherwise) for that possibility. • Deferral of Series and All-In-One registrations to next year would appear to be the only option. There are a million other things, of course. This is just the top-level stuff. But it all boils down to answering two basic questions: 1. Can we produce WORS under the guidelines in place? Being honest...probably not. We will continue to be optimistic and work on how we might overcome the obstacles to make the answer yes. 2. Assuming that we can produce WORS 2020, (and that's a big assumption with so many unknowns floating out there), is it ethical/safe/smart to do so? The answer to both is, "we don't know." The first question is a huge challenge. The second is a question that can only be answered in hindsight. We know that all of you need and deserve to be informed. To that end we know at some point we will have to say GO or NO. So this is what's going happen: the race directors and I are going to decide one way or another on Tuesday, June 2nd and will announce our decision that afternoon (website, Facebook, newsletter). Between now and June 2, we'll be carefully analyzing what’s going on at the federal, state and local levels in order to make the best decision for all. I wish I had more concrete news to share. But for the moment, in the absence of decisive action, we can at least provide a glimpse into our process and invite your thoughts and feedback as they will help steer some of the decision making. Thanks for reading. Don Many of the ideas, thoughts, and words have been borrowed and edited from a news release by Mike McCormack in his recent update on the status of the Breck Epic.