Monday, March 10, 2014

Promoting - 2014 Ris Van Bethel

With the new trailer in my possession, with no sweep day, I could look after Junior until 2 PM Saturday, per normal at this time of year. It took a while to pack up the Jetta Sportswagen with all the stuff from inside the house and garage. Since we can't park the trailer at the house we keep it at a "transfer zone". I drive there in the Jetta Sportswagen aka JSW, move stuff into the Expedition, and then head out in the Expedition.

Because the JSW was packed to the gills it wasn't until about 4 PM before I could get out of the trailer "transfer zone". I drove down to Bethel, a trip that now takes almost two hours, arriving just before 6 PM. I moved most of the stuff from the rental trailer to the new one so that on Sunday we wouldn't have to do much to prepare for the races.

I realize now that we have a "finish line group", a "course group", and a "registration group".

The Finishline Group is the stuff we need for the finish line - tent, heater, propane tank, gas can, tables, camera, computer, generator, power cords, tent anchors, stuff like that.

The Course Group has cones, grate covers, signs, stuff like that.

Finally the Registration Group has more generators, gas cans, heaters, propane tanks, cones, tables, computer, printers, numbers, start lists, tape, radios, microwave, chargers, pens, tables, pallets, wood, a bunch of other stuff. I count my own bike and gear in the Registration Group since that stuff stays next to the Expedition.

Right now everything is pretty disorganized. It's sort of like when I first got the white 15 passenger van. It took me a few hours to load it, nothing fit well, and I was worried I'd need a bigger vehicle. The last year we used it I could load it in about 30-45 minutes, I could see out the windows, and I figured that we could get a smaller vehicle.

Likewise the trailer right now is very "not optimized". We don't have a good system for virtually anything so it takes forever to load and unload. My goal is to optimize the set up so that I can carry as little as possible in the Expedition and leave as much as possible in the trailer.

Some of the things that we need to handle include:
  • Tables not optimized for windows.
  • No shelves built in for printer, radios, microwave, etc.
  • No adapter for 30 amp RV plug (they don't go into a generator) which means plugs and ceiling lights don't work. The latter was an issue after daylight savings - it was really dark in the morning.
  • No way of controlling opening of window so too much heat goes out.
  • Unfinished interior. Need to finish so that it lasts longer.
I hope to be able to spend some time getting the trailer a bit more refined for the races going forward. I realize that a lot of a big organization's efforts go into defining how to execute particular tasks. For example the new aircraft carrier undergoing "testing" is probably in the process of figuring out how to actually do everything. I'm sure they know the basic things they need to do to, say, launch an aircraft, or turn on a particular radar, but to document all that, to teach newbies how to do all that, it takes time. Then, as the operators experience various random things, they can fine tune the procedures, add a step, skip a step, change something, etc. The trailer is no aircraft carrier but we don't have a few thousand people figuring out how to use it either. I figure I'll be honing its processes right up until the day it's done.

Moving stuff.

On Saturday, after I moved stuff from the rental to the permanent trailer, I headed to my dad's. It was a long night, with some last minute emails and such. With Daylight Savings hitting the next morning I'd have an hour less sleep.

Sunday I woke up just before the alarm went off. I didn't want to be late again so I headed out as quickly as I could, grabbed some breakfast, and headed to the course. I even got the trailer all hooked up by myself - I'm getting a bit better at it now.

This is just before I dropped the (new) trailer onto the ball.
Yes, I could line it up.

I hooked up the (permanent) trailer and we started getting the course all set up. Finishline Group, Course Group, Registration Group. I got one heater working, gave up on two more, and the police officers had a slew of signs and such. An higher rank officer dropped by a few times so we had, at some points, three uniformed officers with patrol cars at the race.

The fields were reasonably small again, due to the cold. In fact, when I left my dad's in the morning, it was snowing. It stopped before I got to the course but still, it was bitterly cold. I thought it felt colder this Sunday than it did last Sunday, mainly because of the wind.

The races went off okay, considering we were short two people. The marshals really had to earn their pay today with a really high volume of traffic on the course.

At the end of the day things were a bit quicker than they were last week. I guess we're getting into the rhythm of packing and unpacking the thing.

Joel climbing into the trailer.

My goal is to have improvements each week, something, anything, to improve the process. I suppose the races are like that also, incremental improvements each week. I know that's a catchy phrase for the ProTour teams, but for the race it's an ever-evolving process.

All day people were congratulating me on the trailer. It was nice, yes, but what I said to them was the truth - the trailer represented an "all in" commitment to the race promotion gig. The trailer wasn't free and in fact I bought it using future money, not past money. I had to step up or back down and I decided I'd step up and commit.

Ironically this year has been tougher than past ones for a number of reasons, and for the first time I thought that the Series now has a limited future in front of it. I'll see how this year goes and then think about how to move forward. For a number of reasons I'd like the Series to remain where it is now, but for a slew of other reasons I can see why it may have to "evolve" if you will. I'll see how it goes.

In the meantime I'll be honing the trailer processes and procedures, trying to make things more efficient. The finish line stuff also, there are some improvements I'd like to make.

There's the tried and true race mantra that I have to apply to all this - "There's always next week."

And so there is, at least right now. See you this coming Sunday!

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