The Karel Factor

When we first kicked off the VVC at Awaba, I remember meeting an very enthusiastic chap and his (poor?) better half. The chap stood out because he had an enthusiasm that was hard to define and when you consider he took the train up and rode to the event, only to then ride 12 hours solo, how he managed to keep the enthusiasm going was, to be perfectly honest, not easy to understand.

Come the second VVC, there he was again, this time with an even louder shirt and hooking into the ‘bribe for laps’ scheme like there was no tomorrow. When I say hooking in, I mean it. Lenny and I were in wine and the like for a good while. As would be expected, no surprises who took the prize for the most bribed laps.

Come the third event, Karel, as we soon learned, was there again, bribing and smiling his way through 12 hours… solo. This time was different though, and Karel had taken bribing to a whole new level. Our earlier event had been canceled due to bad weather, and while most riders happily transferred to the following event, or pulled out, everyone accepted that the event was canceled. Karel though, well, I guess he saw an opportunity. So over a period of email exchanges, he bribed his way to winning an event that never even took place. And not a little bribe either, a good good healthy one, a case of Port worth.

OK, while Lenny and I are not ones to never say no to free booze, we both honestly were stumped. I mean, bribing to win an event that never even happened? That’s just ‘out there’. But we struck the deal and made it so, so come the event day, there was Karel, Hawaiian shirt and booze in tow, bribing his way once again through the day and actually delivering on the agreement to win the non-event. Who were we to say no?

This time though I decided to do something I had not done before and actually ask him just why he was doing it. From where I sat, the whole event is a bit of fun and sure a few bribes are good fun here and there (as is counter bribing rider’s like ‘Dreggsy’ with his own bribe) but Karel had taken it to an almost professional past time; unless he had some secret back door into an alcohol stash, this was costing him cash.

The answer I received though surprised me…

When I asked just why are you doing this, when everyone else is content to just ride the day away, Karel looked me straight on and said “I just love what you guys are doing”. That may sound like a shameless bit of self promotion and I guess the words were some of the best things I had heard in a long time about the VVC events, but Karel actually meant it. He went on to say that he thought Lenny and I were running one of the best events he does and the overall attitude and atmosphere was something he enjoyed. The bribing just added another dimension to his fun day out.

While it’s easy to tell people that events should be all about having fun and that to turn up and be ‘race face’ serious is missing the point of riding a mountain bike, it does not mean people will listen. In fact over the earlier events, it was clear that many didn’t and really, why should they? Our last event though, as I had mentioned elsewhere, did see a change and made both Lenny and I think that just maybe our not so subliminal message of fun first and foremost, had permeated through the layers of riders out there as it seemed every single rider was there for only a good time.

Would be nice to think that people were seeing our point of view.

So will we see more of Karel and can his bribing excellence achieve new heights? I certainly hope so. People like Karel make events fun to run and be part of because at the end of the day, an event is about fun, not ‘racing for farms’. Regardless, I’m now calling our attitude to events, both running them and partaking, ‘The Karel Factor’.

Expect to see more of it….