Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Bethel Spring Series - Last Minute Promoting Things

The Bethel Spring Series is just around the corner. Okay, it's only Wednesday, and the race is Sunday, but I feel like it's "just a bit past tomorrow".

Don't panic, it isn't tomorrow.

Having said that to reassure that it's not tomorrow, I'm starting to feel the standard race promoting stress. It's like watching water boil - it doesn't help the water boil but at least you know the water is heating up and it's not like you'll come back and realized you forgot to turn on the burner. So, along these "watching the water boil" lines, I once again made the long drive down to the area to do some Bethel errands.

Actually, my sis and her newborn are visiting from the midwest so I have a good reason to be down here. But the "watching the water boil" bit, i.e. the drive down here and doing some stuff about the Series, eases my mind too.

The Series makes some unusual demands on the promoters due to its dates (and the fact that it's held in New England - the following wouldn't hold true if the Series was held in, say, San Diego). The first week of March might see snow, and we definitely saw snow for the last few months.

Snow, around here, means salt and sand on the roads. Salt and sand, once the snow goes away, means slipping tires, especially on two wheeled vehicles like motorcycles and bicycles.

Slipping bicycles is not a good thing when racing in a closely packed field.

Therefore we sweep.

Saturday will be our Sweep Day, 10 AM, rain or shine. I and whoever shows up will sweep the course so that the road resembles a nice June road - pretty much no sand, no pebbles, a nice clean traction-loaded surface. In the past we've moved about 2000 pounds of wet sand in a torrential downpour, other times we spent the day chipping ice, and on some fortunate years, we actually swept and blew sand.

I hope that tomorrow is one of the latter days.

In preparation for ice, I have a propane torch and about 200 or so pounds of de-icer.

In preparation for a torrential downpour, I have... a rain jacket. And shovels. Brooms. Work gloves. And a wheel barrow.

In preparation for a drier day, I have two wheeled blowers, one hand held blower, the aforementioned brooms (6 or 7, slowly declining in numbers and bristle length), the aforementioned shovels (4 or 5, also declining in numbers and blade length), and the gloves.

Praying for a drier day, personally.

Another thing about March in New England is that it's cold. No way around it, it gets mighty cold. Fortunately the current forecast is pretty balmy, over 40 degrees. Nice if you're dressed in nice cycling gear and pedaling furiously in a bike race.

Not good if you're sitting at registration and trying to type people's names and license numbers on a laptop.

So, for those doing the gritty job of working the registration table, we have TWO heaters. Sounds like one too many but if we could, we'd probably have a dozen. Personally I'd want a big pellet stove with a big blower and compartamentalized desks which retain heat in the foot/leg area.

One day we'll have them, the desks. The stove I'm not sure about.

Actually, if I had an ideal situation, it's be a RV type vehicle that opened up into a registration vehicle, with all the "staff" cocooned warmly in the heart of the RV.

But without that megabuck RV, we're stuck sitting under a couple EZ-Up tents (excellent tents by the way), teeth chattering, fingers shaking, noses turning blue... at least until we get the two heaters going. Then things get positively balmy in the tents - at least 45 degrees or so.

The heaters use propane and propane eventually runs out. If you've never seen a face of despair, wait until you tell a registration person (like the missus) that there is no propane left.

That word, once again, is Despair.

So, in order to avoid such Faces of Despair, I'll be filling up the two propane tanks, and I'm seriously thinking about buying a third one.

Finally, with Sweep Day rapidly approaching, we need gas for the various blowers we have as well as all the other blowers that will be (hopefully) showing up. Gas also helps the generator run, without which we'd lose our nifty computer based registration, computer based printouts of racer lists, and computer based printouts of the results. And, critically, we'd lose a big part of our photo finish setup, the bit where we review things on a big flat screen TV.

Big, in this case, is like 15 inches. No 46" LCDs. Not yet anyway.

A lot of this I'll be doing either tonight or tomorrow.

Today, and yesterday, with the forecast changing from "snow flurries" to "sunny", we got inundated with registrations, emails, and phone calls.

Since all the emails and phone calls come to me, it means I've been inundated with emails and phone calls. My partner in crime handles registrations so he deals with that. I guess this is what happens when you have an event whose numbers depend on weather. If I could buy futures in rainy weather (they must have them, they have hurricane and heating degrees and air conditioning degrees futures), it might be a way to hedge things. So I spent a lot of my limited computer time today responding to queries about the Series. Typically "limited" and "computer time" don't exist in the same sentence for me so this is a big deal.

Tomorrow, if things work out, I'll also recon the course once more the best way I know how - by riding around the thing. Then it's back to the missus and the kitties and home, at least for Thursday night.

Friday I'll be back once more, prepping for the Sweep and for the race on Sunday.

Now I need to go find some voodoo things so the forecast doesn't change too much.

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