No, you're right. There are already existing really good epic rides that are for free. Almanzo 100 is naturally the most know (at least to me). If Almanzo can do it for free why must DK charge $200? Unless they want to "make money" off the event, which is likely the case. Here in MI we have plenty of Gravel Road Rides and more coming. In fact the Michigan Coast 2 Coast is 209 miles and is cheaper than DK by $70 but will be just as epic, in a different way. Most upper mid-west rides are well under $100.
As far as the DK Training camp goes it was an opportunity to get to ride a half pint supported by DK on some of the main event's route. You got to experience the race route. We also got to ride with many experienced DK riders who explained how to deal with the unique flint rock roads, how to outfit your bike for this specific event and event specific details that unless you ride in this neck of the wood (or prairie) you would not know. The camp provided lots of incites on how to prepare for this specific event. I thought it was worth the $800 I paid and learned and it included entry to the main event. It's now not worth going back for me at this price as I've been there and done it and learned. But if you're a first timer then it's going to be a challenge to decide if it's worth the change to go. Like you say there are more effective life enriching ways to spend this much money!
DerekJ_MI I read somewhere that DK200 might reach the point where they are too high that most people will lose interest. From last year they aren't there yet as their computers crashed because of everyone wanting to get in. I want to do it but probably will be one of the last ultra rides I do because of the costs. RideMagnetic have you done the Motherlode or know anybody that has done it as it has shown up on my radar? Zman
If it was easy it wouldn't be a memory. You just hope you don't have all your memories in the same ride. been there dun that Zman