"Are you on Facebook?"
"What are you doing?"
"Commenting on this picture I took before dinner."
"Is that a shovel?"
"Were you shoveling the road?"
"Yes, I had to shovel the sides of the road."
"Why did you have to shovel the side of the road?"
I grinned. I told him that it was something I had to do. With the first 2013 Bethel race and all its problems, fresh in my mind, I knew that I had to step up the game. So let's back up a bit.
Saturday morning went as usual with the Missus off to work (during tax season she works Saturdays and sometimes Sundays), me at home with Junior. The Missus and I had staged the stuff we needed for Bethel in the garage, and when she got home we packed the stuff we needed for Junior and ourselves. Then, with both cars loaded up, we headed down to my dad's place.
To put some detail on the situation at my dad's - it's the house that we moved into in 1978. I spent all my middle school and high school years there. My brother, his wife, and their kids live there too. When we head over I always think of the rooms as "our" rooms. My brother will say "Yeah, you're in your room tonight", meaning my room from when I was in high school.
I still had to do some stuff at the course - the surprisingly heavy snowfall during the week meant that there'd be snow on the course, or at least on the shoulders. I went directly to the course first while the Missus and Junior, in the other car, went straight to my dad's.
The first thing I did was to put in all the stakes to mark off the grass at Turn One. In the morning the ground would be frozen solid so it would be best to put the stakes in while it was 50 degrees out and sunny. With that done I focused on cleaning up the snow on the road, with emphasis on Turn One, the hill, and the backstretch leading to the hill.
The course was worse than I thought - the "few inches" of snow spillage on the shoulder ended up, at times, two or three feet wide. The snow was heavy wet slush and with temperatures expected in the low-mid 20s overnight it would all freeze. We could melt a little bit of ice but not frozen slush a few inches deep.
Therefore the slush had to go.
I cleared the left shoulder towards the top of the hill. That wasn't too bad. I also tried to sculpt the Turn One snow bank. I didn't have the time or energy to move it all so I tried to make it into a more "corner" type of shape instead of the disjointed "bang the plow into the bank" shape.
The not sculpted Turn One.
The hill after the storm. Not bad at first glance.
What I didn't realize was just how much snow sat next to the curb. Once it started to melt it turned into this slushy wet mess. In the expected overnight temperatures it would all freeze, creating an unrideable shoulder.
The "Nephew Picture"
There was a lot more snow than I expected.
This is the right side of the hill and the snow had been piled up along the bank from the driveway opposite, a couple feet high and a couple feet out from the curb.
I had to abandon my conservative approach with all the snow on the hill. My back seemed up to it so I plowed ahead and did what work I could do. At some point, when I was next to the glass building, the Missus called.
"When do you think you'll be done?"
I looked around. I knew sunset was just before 6 PM. It was maybe 5 PM.
"Until the sun sets, for sure."
Cleared area just before the glass building, facing the same direction as the race goes.
By the time I got to the end of the glass building section, about 200 meters from the line, it was getting pretty close to that sunset time. I still had to get one more straight - the bit before the glass building. The backstretch was reasonable, and the stuff after Turn One was fine. So just that wooded section at about 350 to 200 meters to go.
Starting to clear the bit before the glass building at the bottom of the hill.
This one I'm looking backwards relative to the race direction.
I have to admit it was worse than I expected. I thought the snow only came out a foot or so from the curb, but you can see from the picture that the snow was more like 3 feet from the curb.
I started it so I had to finish so I kept going.
The cleared area.
I finally got to the end of that section when the Missus called. Everyone was going out to our standard "family is visiting" restaurant in South Norwalk. She told me that she'd stay at the house with Junior and I could head down there straight from the course. As I was starting to bonk this was a good thing. I said I'd leave in about 5 minutes.
Then I realized that there was literally an inch or two of slushy ice all along the shoulder. It really accumulated when I pushed it with a broom, and knowing it would be absolutely unrideable frozen I cleared it away, pushing it all to the grate at the end of the straight.
Some of the slush/water that I had to clear after I cleared the snow.
Before I left I took a picture of Turn One. Better than before.
I was a little late for dinner but they ordered for me but I was so hungry I think I finished my food before everyone else.
When we got home from dinner that's when that one nephew came up to me at the kitchen table.
With last week's fiasco of a race I was determined to have a better race this week. I asked for help, the Missus put in a lot of work to help prepare for the race, and she told me she'd go to the race one more week before leaving it to me (she normally only works the first week).
Sunday went much, much better than the prior one. Bitterly cold in the morning we used all the ice melt I'd brought (calcium chloride, the good stuff - the ice actually sort of creaks when the melt hits it because the ice melts immediately). I pushed a leaf blower to clear the dusty sand, grabbing a second one halfway through the backstretch, pushing two blowers clearing practically the whole lane in one pass.
The camera, working as it was at the end of the day last week, worked fine.
Racers stepped up to marshal in exchange for racing and the race was much better marshaled.
Of course it helped that the temperatures hit about 50 degrees by mid day and that there was practically no wind. We had crowds of people watching, unusual for a Bethel.
People at the finish of the M45 race.
In the Cat 3-4 race I decided to carry a marshal's radio just in case. I left it off except when I need to use it as a "roving marshal" so I wouldn't be able to use it as a "racer". A few laps in, when I saw a utility truck at Turn Two (he'd been checking underground wiring in the area), I called in a request for someone to keep an eye out on him. I didn't realize that someone was already on their way down there but having the radio was good. Going forward I'll keep one in my pocket during the races.
We broke stuff down before the P123s were done so we could get out of there quicker than we did last week, by over an hour. With the melting snow the floors were a bit dirtier but nothing that we couldn't clean with the cleaning kit we have specifically to clean up the registration area.
We headed back to my dad's where Junior had spent the day with his cousins, aunt, uncle, and grandfather. He seemed totally at ease when we got there. We celebrated his birthday - he turned one year old that day. I have no pictures but I'll have to get them from my brother. Junior had some pasta with no problems but promptly threw up when I gave him a bit of chocolate frosting. Oops.
We headed out after dinner and cake, a two car convoy. The Missus headed straight home with Junior while I had to stop for fuel (the light was on for a while), get some food for the kitties, and then head home.
After a long day.
The JSW (Jetta Sportswagen) was loaded down enough that the rear looked lowered. With the bike and a few hundred pounds of weight the car didn't get better than about 38 mpg. Arg. It was weighed down enough that the stuff on the front seat triggered the "no seat belt" chimes, the ones that tell you that your front seat passenger doesn't have a seat belt on. Well of course it didn't, it was left over cake and a pile of race stuff.
I unloaded the car into one of the garage bays because the next morning I needed the car back in "Junior configuration" so we could take him to his one year check up. I decided to take a picture of the stuff I took out.
I don't know where the other tent is but the rest of it was in the car.
I think the second tent's still in the car.
My bike is behind the piece of wood. I didn't have the jigsaw, the ladder, or the rear privacy awning (the black thing in the back of the picture) but everything else came out of the JSW, or, in the case of the bike, from off the top. This makes my trailer/tow-vehicle thoughts much more real, dealing with this every week.
It was a long day but a good one. The race went off much better than last week, the primary short term goal for the day.
And, as the primary long term goal, Junior has been alive for a year. As we told each other about 364 days ago, our first task is to keep Junior alive and healthy. Everything else is to support this goal.