RSVP sells out first day, other Cascade rides still open

Registration for Cascade Bicycle Club’s big annual rides opened yesterday, and computer problems plagued the sign-up process. But problems did not stop the 1,400-person Ride from Seattle to Vancouver BC and Party (RSVP) ride from selling out within hours. Other popular rides, such as the Chilly Hilly and Seattle-to-Portland are still open.

Registration is open to all members. According to Biking Bis, Cascade used to contract registration out, but attempted to do it in-house this year. They seem to have gotten a little too confident in Amazon cloud servers.

Some members could not get onto the Cascade website in the opening hours of registration, while others reported the booking process took from 2 to 4 hours. Those who could not stay online that amount to time found RSVP had filled up by the time they finally got through.

While being shut out of RSVP is nothing new, apparently wrestling through the registration process for that many hours only to discover the ride has been sold out is something new.

In previous years, Cascade contracted out the registration process through a third party. This year, Cascade is handling the event registration in-house using Amazon cloud servers. Some speculated that insufficient capacity led to the login and registration problems.

The frustrating problems has led to speculation to how the process could be done differently in the future. For example, if RSVP is going to sell-out so quickly, perhaps some kind of lottery system would be better than a frustrating try-to-register-online-first kind of system. Or maybe the on-sale dates for different rides could be staggered instead of trying to sell them all at once.

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5 Responses to RSVP sells out first day, other Cascade rides still open

  1. kDavid says:

    Yeah, it was a frustrating time: 1hr, 43 minutes in total, with my risking RSS from hitting the refresh key for the entire time (and hoping against hope I was not purchasing MULTIPLE registrations in the process!). I think that RSVP needs to be expanded slightly, AND there needs to be a lottery system. It’s just too popular.

    I am doubly surprised that Amazon did not do a better job consulting with the sizing and stress testing of the servers too, since this is such a high profile event in the Seattle area. I anticipate a bunch of ensuing finger pointing, which will no doubt result in the enrichment of their respective PR firms that will do damage control…

    There is lesson to the customer to do more due diligence in such a situation, as well as the vendor, making sure the customer is best served (vis-a-vis CBC and Amazon). A whole lot of good will was lost in the membership of the club yesterday too – an inauspicious start to what we hoped would be a less troublesome year for the club.

  2. Marcy says:

    It was very frustrating indeed. I tried, in vain, to register for RSVP for two hours. However, I was at work and couldn’t be as dedicated to it as I, maybe, otherwise would have been. A lottery system seems much more fair. Cascade continues to disappoint.

  3. Kevin says:

    kDavid, this isn’t Amazon’s fault, it’s Cascade’s or whomever CBC contracted to build the registration system.

    EC2 provides essentially infinite capacity, but you need to pay for it. If for example you cheap out and put the database server on small instance a (your laptop probably has more memory) instead of, say, an extra large instance this is basically bound to happen.

    Much like how as experienced humans we can tell that a lottery system would work better, an experienced system designer will build a system with sufficient capacity. CBC probably hired someone’s kid in high school because he’s “good with computers” and well look what happened.

  4. Pingback: Biking Bis: Registration for 2012 Cascade rides starts today | Seattle Bike Blog

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