Green Bean Teams
Late in December 2014 a random Facebook discussion took place between myself and Jillane Baros and an idea was born. We were looking for an interesting venue of competition for riders classified as “Green Beans.” A discussion ensued about the possibility of team competition. So the problem was how to develop a team competition platform, how to do it safely, how to connect new riders to each other and network them with riders with some experience, how to do it within the framework provided by AERC, and how to make it a win/win for Green Bean Endurance as well as AERC. The fruition of these early conversations thanks to the hard work of Jillane Baros has been Green Bean Teams.
How does Green Bean Teams provide a competitive safe framework for Green Beans and support AERC as an organization? Let me explain how this will work:
You must be an AERC member to participate. This means each person on a team must have a paid and valid AERC membership ID # to enroll themselves in a team. We felt the primary goal should always point towards the greater good of our organization. What did this mean for AERC? If our calculations are correct it means 110 people on the teams had to either renew their membership or become a new member by January 31, 2015. This equates to membership fees and new members for AERC. Granted some of the members would have likely signed back on for membership, but this little push got them to pay their fees early. Teams will also support ride managers with an increase in entries, for if you do not ride, your team will drop in the standings quickly. We feel we have met our goal in supporting AERC as primary.
The next problems were how to compete a large group of relative new riders in a safe, point driven team environment and how to get competitive teams while still keeping the welfare of the horses and riders in the forefront. So we decided that mixed teams of varying experience could group together as teams without ever having to ride the trail together (unless they wanted to). Individual team members get points for completions and bonus point multipliers for longer distances. Placement at a ride gains them nothing in points. So the focus is complete, complete, and complete. A pull from a ride means loss of your attempted point gain, with absolutely nothing to be gained on riding fast. You gain more points by learning the ropes and increasing your distance based on readiness, and we encourage each rider to ride to their comfort level on distance and follow the core principles of To Finish is to Win. We are also asking the more experienced members on the teams to share information with the group as a whole, and refer them back to the The Green Beans and AERC facebook pages for questions and inquiries outside of their skill set. We want our group to have a safe, fun, and successful ride season!
Green Bean Teams consist of 5 riders varying in experience from 0-999 miles of recorded AERC completion experience. The 999 mile cut off allowed a more experienced rider to be on a team in a mentorship role, or to form intermediate (Picked) level teams for the competition. The entry fee for a team was $100 and was split between team members. The revenue from these fees will pay back at 100% in year end prizes which will make the awards self-sustaining, though we have had donors come forward with donations of prizes (thank you!). We have teams in both the On the Vine (novice) division, and the Picked (intermediate) division. Regions can be mixed, and we currently have team representation from east coast to west coast. Next year we hope to expand the program enough to have a few teams in the Cooked (advanced) division, and possibly a future Seedling (juniors) division. We were able to fill our team roster to capacity with 22 teams and a total of 110 riders in less than one week of open enrollment. The excitement and connections that have followed are incredible. Riders scrambling for teams, assigning a team captain, naming teams, planning conditioning rides, ordering team t-shirts, and as a whole supporting the very teams they will ride against. Plotting and planning is very much supported to just keep things interesting, and tie-breakers have been built into our program. We have every reason to believe that this grand experiment of teams will be a success, as it has already fulfilled every bullet point of our initial goal of teams. The team competition will run until the last day of November 2015, and winners will be announced after final ride results are published and scores tallied. Deb Moe and I will serve as this year’s scorekeepers, and Jillane Baros will handle the financial/prize sponsorship portion of the competition. We hope our AERC membership at large will stay tuned into the competition, and support our new riders’ enthusiasm as we pilot the great experiment of team riding in Green Bean Endurance. Look out for those green bean team t-shirts at rides and be sure cheer them on!
Teams represented in the first Green Bean Team completion:
Blister Butt Babes, The Green Machine, Girls on a Mission, Pony Tails, Renegade Riders, The Noble Al Khamsa, Mustang Endurance Horse, Wind Riders, Battlefield Babes, The Blazing Saddles, Mileage Mamas, Hot to Trot, Bringing up the Rear, Copper Country Trail Riders, The Del Montes, Bask-et Cases, The Sensational Seedlings, Trails Afire, Turtle Trotters, Distance Divas, Blazin Belles, and NE Florida Flyers.
I feel like I have found my tribe ☺