Ride/Event Calendars : Strategies for Bike Club Web Users & Administrators

Background Information

Apple iPhone 4S

Apple iPhone 4S

Suppose your bicycle club has an event/ride calendar. This is literally the way in which the “pulse” of the club is measured. Suppose too that a fair number of your weekday riders are retirees. They are eager to stay in touch with one another and rely heavily on the Ride Calendar to let them know when activities are approaching.

Your club used to have a 24-hour advanced notice requirement to ensure that everyone who wanted a chance to got ample notification. But when weather is as “iffy” as it can be in the Midwest people wanted more flexibility. So the 24-hour rule was abandoned in favor of the 12-hour advanced notice requirement.

But as one member made clear calendar scanning took place in her household once a day. She checked and if a ride was available then she planned her personal calendar around the ones she liked. She could look at the calendar online in the evening or morning and know what to do with her time for the next 24-hours.

So what does a club do when its window has been narrowed and some folks are missing out?

Summary

In my household we use cellphones to examine our daily commitments. Actually it is more a matter of the cellphone shouting at me that I have a ride coming up or an appointment here or there. It is literally my butler when it comes to organizing my life. Lose that phone and I’d be very lost most days.

Here in the 21st Century we need strategies to keep our clubs and personal lives in order. This means that if we run a club or some similar kind of organization we need an online calendar that is:

  • Reliable in that it seldom fails to work when either viewing its contents or entering new ones for others to view.
  • Capable of notifications via email or by accessing the ToDo List app we have on our phones to signal future events and rides as well as the ones occurring in the next hour or so.

Organizational Strategy

You need to have a SmartPhone of some sort to make things work smoothly. When I say you, I mean both the riders who want to attend a ride and the leaders who want to schedule one. Of course you can always resort to using a laptop instead, but the SmartPhone approach means that while you are out on a ride and the mood strikes you can stop at the rest area to create a new calendar event.

You need a general use calendar. My vote goes to Google Calendar. It has some of the best multi-date programming to ensure that you do not have to re-enter an event to get it to repeat over a span of time. You enter it once and then give the frequency and the end date for the repetitions. Sweet! But Google Calendar is also able to send out announcements via email. That makes it delicious!

What is lacking in Google Calendar is a formatted input template to keep ride leaders from having to remember to add important stuff that they might overlook. But otherwise it works well with just about any ride or event type you can imagine.

On the SmartPhone side you need to have your Calendar App either receive or retrieve calendar events from the Google Calendar. When your phone is set up properly you can do what I do. I can sit on a commuter train and upload a ride to my personal Google Calendar. My wife can do the same. After either of us has entered an event our website retrieves it and displays it on our website. I have the calendar retrieval frequency set to a quarter hour (15 minutes).

That means that people who visit our site will see the events on our calendar and we have our Calendar Apps pointing to the same Google Calendar. Whenever either of us enters an event we both end up with a copy of that event in our SmartPhone Calendar App and the same is true of our website. Sweet!