Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Race Promotion - Use the Porta Potties and Other Obstacles

I took the second step towards holding the Bethel Spring Series in 2008, the first step of the year (the first step was to write the town of Bethel, and the first and a half step was to call Bethel Cycle who confirmed they'll be on board for some prizes). Really pretty straight forward - I simply put up a dead end entry page with the tentative dates. Technically, until we have our permits, we cannot advertise races, including receiving entry monies, sending out flyers, etc. We do get a lot of inquiries on exactly when the races will start so this is the first step to address the minor flood of incoming mail. The USA Cycling (USCF is legally dead) permit process is decent (people wise) but not rapid (form availaiblity, process, etc) so we typically have our permits in February. Until then, no bikereg, no prereg, etc.

Like all projects, each Series presents its own unique challenges. As you drill down in the various steps necessary to launch such a Series, some things get done easily while others end up taking up an inordinate amount of time. The hope is that we figure out the time consuming stuff and alot it sufficient energy before it surprises us and leaves us dead in the water.

For 2008 there are a couple new obstacles and one or two changes.

1. The deserted lot, used for playing catch with dogs, walking around kids in strollers, and where we always dumped all the sand, is now a completed lot with a building, parking lot, and little trees sprouting here and there. Our typical finish line set up was in the entry to this lot - it may be difficult to do the same thing for 2008. Have to figure something out.

2. It's snowed a lot here. Lots of sand to sweep.

3. I live about 1.5 hours away, not 35 minutes away. We also get a lot of snow up here. 11" here instead of 4" or 5" in the second last storm. And yesterday, we started in sleet halfway up the state and quickly drove into a moderate snow storm as we got further north. And the van doesn't enjoy snow or ice at all. We have to plan accordingly.

Related to this is the fact that we'll be picking up two of our full time helpers from UCONN each week and driving them to the area the day before each race. We valued them enough that we asked if they could help in 2008 even though they wouldn't be in the immediate area. They said yes so we'll be picking them up.

4. I decided to go to a "start time" format, one where start times are published. I expect some initial problems with the times being off but I hope in 2009 we'll have those handled. And for those of you traveling any sort of distance, the published start times are the earliest the race can start. They can be late, but they cannot be earlier.

Some of the standard obstacles:

1. There is a property owner/tenant who doesn't like us. Specifically he hates the idiots that pee on his building every single year. Thanks to those morons - idiots - selfish mofos - good for nothing bikers who pee anywhere they feel like - etc etc etc he's been opposed to the race series from the get go. Unfortunately we'd like to use his driveway to hold the start/finish thing. It would help with the finish line camera (sun behind the camera instead of in front of it), it's a U shaped drive with two outlets (not like the new building's driveway which has only one), and it's at the same spot as our "normal" finish line.

But since he thinks all cyclists go to Bethel to pee on his building, it'll be a tough sell.

Yeah, cyclists peeing in random public/private places really annoys me since I get to reap the benefits of having to deal with random public/private people over this. You do it at Bethel and you're out, no refund, no nice guy, no nothing. You deserve nothing, and I mean nothing, from a race promoter. Get out and stay out! Sell that frickin bike, shred your racing license, and do the rest of us a favor.

I wish I could set fines for such stupid acts - like the doping thing, racers would have to give up a year of salary if they pee in public. Okay, since a lot of bike racers are dirt poor, they have to give their bike stuff, their car, and whatever else they need to make up about $40k, about the average income in the area.

Phew. Now that I've made that clear. If I catch you peeing anywhere and I get livid you'll know why.

2. We want a Bethel police officer every day to marshal the first turn (the busy one). Maybe fine the public urinators if he gets a chance.

3. I always have ideas on how to improve the Sweep Day experience with better and more powerful tools, but I'm at a loss. It'll cost a few thousand dollars to make the next step. But, if anyone has a power broom (I'm talking 36" wide, horsepower measured in the teens or higher) and some way of vacuuming up sand/dirt, I'm all ears.

4. I also have ideas on improving the setup and breakdown of the race facilities - registration tent, generator, and finishline. I addressed one thing - no power if generator is shut off - by buying two small UPS units. Our printer and laptop will be okay for a few minutes if this happens.

5. Trophies. I have to decide what to give the Cat 5s since we can't give money weekly.

6. Portapotties. For those who use bathrooms to pee. Maybe an extra one for all the public urinators who now use the portapotties.

7. Official stuff - officials, permits, get set up on bikereg, etc.

8. Marshals - get some idea of who'll be working the races each week.

So this is the initial list.

I did forget one thing - actually racing the races. I think if the race took place on a hilly 10 mile loop with thousands of feet of elevation per lap that I'd have bowed out of promoting the thing a long time ago. But I love this race, I love this course because it offers everything to the racers. It's tactical but still allows strong racers to break away. It has a hill so climbers can really put the hurt on the rest of them, but it's short enough that a sprinter can get up it. It has wind so a TT guy can use his superior strength, but it also has wide, long stretches of road so a team can pull back such a TT guy. Some races end in field sprints, but often a break will win.

Because of this yin-yang thing, the race is always a possibility for me, it's always possible to dream of a good race. I hope I'm strong enough to get to the finish, and if I do, I hope I'm strong enough to be able to sprint. In 2007 I was the former but not the latter. This year I hope I'll be strong enough to sprint. So in this respect I am training with the goal of having a slight jump start in form. I rarely gain significant form after Bethel so it's a season focus for me, along with a few races mid summer to hold my training attention.

As far as the promotion bit, the stress starts to build in the late fall when the Series starts looming over my shoulders. I can usually chip away at all this stress a little at a time so that by the end of the Series I'm just a blob of happy Jello, relaxed and happy. That's my goal for this year.

And there's one way everyone can help out.

Please don't pee on anyone's property or buildings at Bethel.

It just stresses me out.


hobgoblin said...

Too bad Mike can't fine the public urinators the way he can the helmet scofflaws. On the other hand, the guy who complains would probably find some reason to dislike the race even if everyone there was the model of continence.
I'm looking forward to the races this year, but I'm going to miss the sweep day and race #1--I'll be El Salvador that first weekend in March.

Il Bruce said...

Good luck.

Be prepared to budget a good amount for the cops. We often pay up to $100.00/hour for a detail.

Aki said...

Interestingly enough, the guy who complains is the brother of a racer. So he sort of, begrudgingly, understands the racing thing, sort of. In a way. Possibly. But apparently peeing on his building really ticks him off (it would tick me off too).

Cops - Bethel only requires one cop and they're pretty good about it. Cost isn't horrible because it's just one. And they're worth their cost when it comes to dealing with irritated drivers. No one listens to a turn marshal but everyone perks up when a cop is addressing them.