continued Asked if they have ever had to use that service, Foster answers, “Almost every event we have, something happens. Cycling is the most dangerous sport of all the popular sports.”
Foster also hires U.S. paramedics to go down and be on call. And, because of Mexican law, they can’t use volunteers to staff any aspect of the ride. “So at the water stops, people handing out T-shirts, people handing out numbers and registrations, they are all paid employees. In Mexico, you can’t use someone as a volunteer the way you can here.”
On top of medical and staff costs — Foster won’t divulge how much they are — there’s a federal revenue tax on the registration fees. And the cities of Rosarito and Ensenada each charge a per-rider tax, a practice Foster describes as “a very counterproductive way of thinking. If you look at the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon, the model they use is, every time they go to a new city, the city pays the company to bring the event to them because it generates tourism. So what happens is, Rock ’n’ Roll doesn’t have to make any money on participation because they are getting so much from the cities. But for us down there, we do it upside down. We go down there, we have to pay the city to put on the event. We have to buy the permits to put on the event. Every police officer that is stationed along the route, we have to pay his salary for the day. It adds up, and it’s cost prohibitive.”
Ron Raposa, public relations director for the City of Rosarito, blames the demise of the bike ride on American media coverage of Baja, “including things like the recent cover story you ran in the Reader” (“Greetings from Tijuana,” August 7).
Asked what the economic impact of the ride has been for Rosarito, Raposa doesn’t have dollar figures but offers, “Well, we had 5000 to 7000 participants plus friends and family members that came down, that stayed in hotels and ate in restaurants and spent money in Rosarito and Ensenada twice a year and created a great deal of publicity for the area. It’s a wonderful event with wonderful people. They never had a problem with anything down here, and we never had a problem with them. We’d like to see it continue, and we still hope that some way might be found. If it can’t continue, we’re going to miss it. There’s no question about it. As for the exact economic impact, well, we get over a million visitors a year here, and we’re starting to see a recovery in tourism this summer, so it’s not going to kill us. But we’re surely sad to see it go. It’s extremely sad, and it truly is the result of bad and unfair U.S. media coverage, and I put the Reader cover story in that category. I can’t say it any more sternly. Twenty-seven years, 375,000 participants, and never a single serious crime among them. But the U.S. media are simply scaring people away with biased, unbalanced, and unfair reporting.”