Ah. Second last Bethel for 2014. It seems like just last week that I was frantically ordering numbers, gambling that the race would happen. Now it's almost done and things seem much more calm.
Saturday I really pushed Junior's limits by making a long trip with the idea of storing stuff in the trailer and not having to bring them down next week, the last week of the Series.
I started by loading the T-shirts into the car - that took up the front seat, one side of the child seat, the foot area of the backseat, and one box in the trunk. I got Junior in the packed car, loaded up the car with distraction stuff, and set off.
The box next to him acted as a shelf so he left his Horsey and blanket up there. Normally I'd be contorting to reach them after he dropped them but this time I didn't have to contort too many times.
We headed down to pick up the trophies from Crown Trophy in Brookefield. I've been using them since the very beginning and they've been very good to me. This year I ordered the trophies before the end of the Series so that was good - they didn't have to scramble to make them.
I got there about an hour before they closed - 1 PM - and the trophies fit in the back of the Jetta just fine. I headed to the trailer to drop everything off. Because Junior was out of "getting into the child seat" cycles I left him in the seat while I quickly threw everything into the side door of the trailer.
Then without any further ado I headed home.
Where I'd basically pack up the Expedition and do the same 90 minute drive back. My phone died on the way down, the charger sometimes does something and then the phone just turns off when it has 0% battery. This has only happened once or twice but of course it had to happen the night before Bethel.
I got to my dad's sort of late. My brother greeted me in the driveway, waving a flash light.
I rolled down the window after my brain went through a few scenarios. The one I came up with wasn't good.
"Is the power out?"
"I tried to call you."
"My phone died on the way here."
"I left you a message." My brother paused. "Do you have any gas?"
Yes I did.
We got the big generator going, the house felt normal (except for the generator running outside), and I ate dinner and plugged stuff in. My big worry was my phone, which is also my alarm clock.
The power went back on a while later and things seemed fine. I didn't get to sleep until just a bit past midnight.
The next morning I snoozed my optimistic 4:30 AM wake up, reset it for 5:00 AM, snoozed it for 5:05 AM, then finally got up. I was looking forward to this day as it was supposed to be pretty warm.
I got in the Expedition.
27 degrees F.
I realized I hadn't bought the little propane tanks for the small heaters. It'd be cold in the trailer today. Ugh.
I kept wanting to take a trailer selfie in the mirror building and finally managed to do it. It's early in the morning, about 6:15 AM, so I was comfortable with taking the selfie in terms of the whole "not focused on driving" bit. I wanted to get one when it was dark and the running lights made for a cool "Mac the truck from Cars" effect, but now it's too light.
I should point out that I ended up well over the yellow line doing it and I would have sworn I didn't move more than a foot off my line. Distracted driving is stupid driving.
We were short a number of helpers so the set up took a bit longer than normal. There were no bake sales, no free food guys, so it was just the table for release forms. No biggie and we got things up and running okay. Mike the camera guy was there so he got his stuff set up fine.
Cat 5 field
I was trying to help out a Junior in his first race ever. This is a good shot of him just in front of the field.
With my Junior (meaning our son) I've taken more of an interest in Junior racing. I realize things about being a parent that I simply couldn't know before. It's changed a lot of the way I approach and think about things, both promoting and not. In the promoting sense I realized that having Junior races is important, regardless of the length or fanciness of the race. It should be low buck for grassroots promoters.
Someone asked me if the Juniors get anything. I shook my head to the negative. He said that that was good. I told him that I figure a $5 entry fee and no "everyone's a winner" makes for a good thing. $3 goes to USAC for insurance so it's not like the promoter is getting much, and the extra $2 is really so we don't have to get as many singles. It costs more to hold the race than the entry but that's okay. When I figure out the costs I might adjust the price up but suffice it to say that the Junior entry fees didn't pay for the registration staff for 30 minutes, that's for sure.
However, for promoting I've realized that the extra half hour is not much to give when it benefits the future of cycling. Giving the Juniors, and really it's the kids, allows them to participate for real. It makes bike racing real, just like becoming a parent makes parenting real (versus just babysitting).
Of course I have the luxury of saying this because time at Bethel isn't that expensive, and it's open ended in terms of time. I don't have to vacate the course by a certain time like a downtown race would have to do.
I learned that about 30 moto refs got their special moto ref licenses recently. They all need practice so we had one for a few of the races today. It was great having him out there, it really helped tame the whole "Yellow line rule!" screaming that happens on the other side of the course.
I also think the moto ref encouraged folks to race a bit more. I don't know if that's valid or not but it seemed that things were a bit more active. Maybe it was the sun, who knows, but I will seriously consider a moto ref going forward.
By the time the Masters were racing the temperatures had climbed into the mid-upper 40s. It still felt cold in the trailer, with no sun warming up the inside, but outside it was pretty warm when the wind didn't strip the heat out from around you. I saw some shorts in the Masters race.
The intersection, with the maximum number of cars I saw today. I was so shocked at how many cars were there that I snapped this shot. You can see that there aren't that many cars. The consistent stream of vehicles makes it tough though. John, our guy working with the police, has been exceptional at Turn One, and he's a key reason the race worked this year. He even sacrificed racing so that he could work the turn - he put working the Series ahead of racing. That's dedication.
Note that it must be warm - one girl has short sleeves.
Here's that kid thing again. One of the guys in the 3-4 race is here talking with his (?) kids. The idea that the girls are here for the bike race is great. To them a bike race is one of those things that happens on Sunday, just like Monday they go to school. Kids that grow up with this kind of exposure to racing will think it natural to jump in one of those races when they get a bit older.
The races went smoothly today, mainly because of the reduced field sizes and the warmer weather. There was a half marathon in town today that went straight by the course entrance so traffic seemed much reduced. The Masters took the brunt of the traffic hit, stopping for 15-20 minutes here and there, so the officials delayed the Masters race 15 minutes. With the normal 20-30 minute dead spot after the Masters we could still keep the last two races on time.
I think the warmer weather helped also because the main traffic generator, an indoor trampoline place, would likely get less traffic when the weather ended up nice. It was a nice enough day, at least relative to our winter, so maybe a lot of kids did other things instead. The idea generated some hope in me that things would stabilize or be okay enough to hold races here in 2015.
We did have way fewer staff than normal, with one family at Battenkill. The son won the Junior 17-18 race so obviously the trip was worth it, and we'll be glad to have them back next week.
With one replacement staff things were a bit tight but enough volunteers filled out the ranks and the races went pretty smoothly. No one yelled at me so that was a good thing.
With the last race of the Series this Sunday a lot of us have hit the beginning of the closure feelings.
"Oh, it'll be the last Bethel next week."
It's pretty amazing how it seems so stressful and tough in January and by April things have mellowed out. For now, though, it's like what some of the GC leading racers have said to me.
"People are telling me I have it all wrapped up but that's not true. I'm a flat tire, a crash, a sickness away from losing the Jersey. I have to race every week 100% because I have no idea what'll happen the week after."
Likewise promoting the races comes first. I have to focus on the logistics, the planning, the various stuff I need to get in place for the last race. So that's this week. Next week, after the last race, that's when I can finally relax.
We packed up everything at the end of the day Sunday and I headed home. I felt pretty warm and took my hoodie off.
As I drove I felt some discomfort on my lip. I wasn't sure what it was - an abrasion? Did I scrape my lip on something?
A few seconds later it dawned on me.
My lip was sunburned.
I looked in the mirror. I could see some pink in my cheeks, my forehead, and above my lip.
It had been sunny today.
I got too much sun.
It must be near the end of the Series.
I cracked the windows open, letting in the air, ventilating the cabin.
It felt like summer was almost here.