Entry Process for TCRNo5
Firstly the sign up process will be more or less the same but with a few improvements. There will still be the 3 stages of registration, application and then (once a space has been awarded) completion.
Registration will be open for 7 days. Upon registering riders will create an account with us so that they can save all their information and come back later to complete or amend it as necessary. This will allow riders to update their information with us should it change before race day. It will also be possible to log in with social media accounts so that things like profile information and pictures are auto-populated. Riders will also have access to all of the race documentation through this account as it becomes available. This will start with what we call the 'zero' issue of the year's race manual - which contains enough information on the controls so that riders will know roughly where they will be going on the race so they can decide if they would like to apply. More detailed local information will be added in later issues as it is confirmed.
Registration will open on Monday 7th November 2016 and close on Sunday 13th November 2016
Application will be available to a rider as soon as they have registered and established an account. It will then be open for another week after registration closes. Therefore if you register on the 7th then you get 2 weeks to put your application in. This should allow plenty of time for riders to get their application in without favouring any particular nationalities too much.
Applications will be available from Monday 7th November 2016 and close on Sunday 20th November 2016
Completion will be available to those riders who are offered a place. Riders should get to know if they have been offered a place before the end of the year (2016). The entry allocations procedure will be similar in its format and aims as for No.4 and as such there will be a mixture of pre-selected applicants and a ballot.
There will be a number of pre-selection quotas to encourage and reward certain applicants. If the number of applicants in these categories exceeds the quota then they will be selected on a ballot. If a rider is not successful in the pre-selection ballot then they will be put into the main balot. Exact quota numbers will be determined proportionally and be dependent on the demographics of the entries as a whole.
Pre-selection will also be made for the following.
Volunteers - those who have given a significant contribution to TCR as a volunteer in the recent past (for example volunteering on a control) will be prioritised. There will not be a quota on volunteer places.
Veterans - In the past most if not all veteran racers got a place, however there are now too many veterans to make that possible and so there will be a quota and a pre-selection ballot for these applicants.
Under-represented applicants - namely female riders and under-represented nationalities may have a quota.
Private SPOT quota - We don't want private purchase of a SPOT to be a pre-requisite to getting a place on the race so this quota will be small but it does benefit us slightly to encourage private tracker usage and ownership is often indicative of an experienced serial bikepacking race entrant. There will again be a discount for private SPOT users, we will need device details by April in order to guarantee this discount.
All solo riders unsuccessful in the quota ballots or not eligible for pre-selection will go into the main ballot. It is not the purpose of the allocation process to delete entries from the process as not good enough. We may contact applicants if we believe there has been a gross misunderstanding of the event's demands or that the applicant may be a liability to their own safety or that of the event. We do reserve the right to refuse entries but this we generally reserve for those that are made as obviously non-serious, abusive or containing false information. There may be other circumstances but you get the idea.
There will be a separate quota for pairs riders. Riders who apply as a pair will only be eligible for a pairs place, if unsuccessful they will not be entered into the main ballot. Riders must firmly decide and commit to which category they are entering and enter only one. Duplicate registrations will be removed. Pairs entry cannot be back door mechanism to a solo start. Riders should assume that selection is only made for the category of the application and they will not necessarily be able to transfer from one category to another at a later date.
Detailed personal information and payment will only be collected when a rider completes their entry and accepts their place offer. In the past we have made discretionary 50% refunds on the entry fee up until April. This time we will only collect 50% of the entry fee at the completion stage and the following 50% will be due in April. Each payment will be non-refundable but essentially there will be no difference from previous years, it just means that riders keep the money in their pocket longer and pre-April withdrawals don't need to ask for a 50% refund. It does also mean that riders need to push the payment button again in April to pay the balance but there will be plenty of reminders and it helps us identify those who aren't prepared to commit and otherwise often become no-shows on the day. This may mean that we can free up some last minute places.
Pricing will also change slightly for No.5 and we wish to be as transparent as possible with this. One of the principals of the race is that it is accessible to "those who just want to pick up a bike and ride" and in line with that we are committed to keeping the entry fee as low as possible. Past applicants will note that we also have a comprehensive and robust rider agreement. Part of the agreement addresses our policy that riders yield the commercial rights to all the media they produce on the road to TCR. This means TCR can share the media freely and also that we are able to manage the overall commercial profile and aesthetic of the race and limit it, if necessary, to prevent large companies moving in opportunistically and "over-commercialising" it through racers.
Every year we get a number of racers who buy themselves a bike, pay the entry fee and ride their bike and get on with it, with no sponsorship. It is for these people that we try to keep the entry fee low. Also each year we get many riders who receive significant discounts or free equipment from companies who will then use the riders media and participation in the race on their websites and in their social media campaigns. These companies often contact us or the official photographers and ask for images and logo assets and usually expect these for free.
At present these sponsored riders and the privateer riders both pay the same entry fee, some of which we use to pay media people to do media things which in turn makes the race interesting and exciting for people to pay attention to. This benefits the sponsored riders much more than it does the privateers (who might like it but also don't need to care) and it benefits the sponsoring companies especially as they get lots of lovely interesting social media content pretty much for free. Its not such a great deal for our talented photographers who only get what we pay them and offers of T-shirts and other interesting-but-not-very-swappable-for-food items.
So, this year we are going to try something new. The basic entry fee will drop slightly to £180 and if you don't have any kind of sponsorship arrangement this is what you pay. If you want to use your media for any type of commercial activity then you'll add a £40 basic media license to this and pay £220 so on the whole the privateers get a slightly better deal. Sponsored riders still get a good deal because £40 is about the price of a tyre and they will likely get that back in sponsory stuff very quickly.
Should any company be found to be using TCR images without the £40 basic media licence the rider/ company will be sent a bill for the licence.
You are probably thinking if this works well it's unlikely to stay at £40 and you're probably right, but we did more media things for No.4 than we did for No.3 and we hope to do even more for No.5 so the benefits are going to increase as we go to.
So to summarise as simply as possible: The £40 license basically grants you the permission to let the companies who give you free or cheap equipment share the media you create and that is created featuring your participation in the race. You and they also get to use a few of our marketing pictures and you can use our logo on your website and a few other things.
There are of course limited rights involved, its a basic license and only covers some online activity such as social media and blog type activities. It doesn't cover more ambitious and higher budget things like video projects, TV and print or online advertising and you can't sell anything with our logo on. The media and sponsorship licenses will be payable with balance of entry fee in April and there will be full terms and conditions.
While we are on the subject of media there have also been several video projects in the last few years and there were at least 4 or 5 following riders last year. We have been fairly amenable to these projects until now, largely because we wanted to see how they went and we'd also like to see the race captured so that people can see it, but is clear that they are having an impact on the racers and complicating race adjudication. There is also the fact that they have a carbon foot print and many of them don't necessarily achieve the aims they set out with, so on the whole there are appreciable drawbacks. Once this kind of story has been told a couple of times the merit of each subsequent project comes under greater question each time and the balance of cost versus benefit to the race starts to slide and they will start to become too disruptive to the race.
So, with this in mind we are going to introduce some policies on media crews following specific riders. They will only be allowed by express permission of the race director. There will be restrictions on the contact that crews can have with riders and there will be more briefings and controls on crews including tracking for the vehicle and plans will need to be submitted in advance. The number of projects each year will be strictly limited and they will be far more likely to be granted if the rider is a previous finisher and/or has previously shown good representation of the principals of self supported racing.
So that's most of the entry stuff covered. There will also be some things to say about rules and firmer guidance coming soon-ish in a future blog, maybe once the applications are in and our annual survey of what people think is self-reliance is complete.
Until then look out for the announcements this coming weekend.