The Tour Du Rouge Bike Ride is a 6 day bicycle ride, averaging 85-100 miles per day, from Houston to New Orleans and is a major fundraising effort benefitting the American Red Cross. Each rider raises a minimum of $2500 in donations to the American Red Cross. 2014 was the sixth consecutive year of the Tour Du Rouge and there were just under 100 riders.
TextMarks SMS communications were effective and the speed with which the information was communicated was terrific!”
Organizing Logistical Details
“There are hundreds of logistical details associated with organizing and running the ride” said Alan Bazard, Ride Director for the Red Cross Tour du Rouge. “We deal with 2 State Department of Public Safety Departments, 2 State Transportation Agencies, Dozens of County / Parish Sheriff and Local Police Departments, a rolling crew of 23 volunteers, 11 crew vehicles and so much more.”
In addition to the challenge of organizing logistics, there is a need to coordinate and alert riders and crew of possible unsafe conditions. Ride Leaders coordinate with various weather services to monitor and alert the riders and crew of possible unsafe weather (lightning, flash flood, severe winds, etc.). In the event of a Severe Weather or Emergency Road Hazard, they need to be able to direct riders to the closest shelter (identified in advance).
Once riders leave the start motel in the morning, they spread out fairly quickly based on individual riding speeds. Riders remain spread out through the day. Faster riders typically arrive at the finish motel by 2:00-3:00pm, while the slower riders arrive between 3:00 and 4:00pm. Providing important communication to all riders during the ride is a challenge.
TextMarks for Group Notifications
Ride Leaders created two Groups on the TextMarks platform: one for “ALL RIDERS,” and one for “ALL CREW.” They were able to get all riders and crew to “Opt-In” with minimal effort and problems through email instructions and through a live step-by-step walk through the night before the ride. “We used TextMarks on a routine basis to notify riders of start times, morning meetings, dinner time, expected weather for the day, and general greeting and information. The Crew used TextMarks regularly to notify Crew of setup times, location of riders (using other satellite tracking technology), and evening Crew meeting times.”
On several occasions,there were significant “unexpected” Route issues or changes that needed to be communicated quickly and reliably. For example, on the first day, they encountered some logistical problems where one of their “Rest Stops” was not set up in time. Ride Leaders used TextMarks to notify the riders to stop at an alternate location to re-hydrate and replenish nutrition. Additionally, on day 4, a bridge over the Atchafalaya River was closed for repairs. This bridge was only 5 miles from the finish motel, but the only safe route across this river. Ride Leaders sent a group notification to all riders to hold at a rest stop just prior to the bridge, while the Crew organized vehicles to take the riders and bikes safely to the finish motel. Textmarks was a significant help in communicating the changes to all riders and alert the Crew to respond and set up for these unforseen events.
Fast, Efficient Mobile Communication
Both the Riders and Crew had very high compliments for the TextMarks Service. “The communications were effective and the speed with which the information was communicated was terrific! “ said Bazard. TextMarks SMS improved overall communications and added a layer to their Safety Plan by allowing them to send quick notifications with important information. Tour Organizers were able to also manage detailed logistics more effectively with their Crew and keep Riders out of harm’s way. “There were no accidents, falls or serious injuries during the ride this year. We will be incorporating TextMarks into our plans for future American Red Cross “Tour Du Rouge” rides.”
Interested in learning more about group text messaging for event coordination? Call TextMarks at 800-696-1393 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.