Friday, March 28, 2008

Bethel Spring Series - Pre-Bethel CDP Gold Race

With one canceled race and Easter Sunday, the Bethel Spring Series took two weeks off. I know I could use that time off and the missus did too. Hopefully everyone got some nice miles in, some nice racing, and are all ready to go back and do it again.

Of course, nothing is as easy as just taking two weeks off. I got a "Code Red" contact from the town last week - it seems that one tenant noticed a touch more sand on their lawn than they're used to seeing. I called the town and spoke with someone. Apparently one of the many tenants in Francis J Clarke Circle saw more sand than normal. They weren't mad but they wanted to point it out to the town.

When asked if it was "my group" who might have done the sand piling I responded afirmatively. I pointed out that even if it wasn't us, we're just too easy to blame. So I took all responsibility for the sand and I promised I'd get the outer 4 or 5 feet of lawn cleared of sand.

Two days later I drove down to Bethel, stopping to help out someone struggling with a bike fit thing on the way. I drove to my dad's house (an extra 30 min) to pick up some sand clearing tools and managed to make it to Bethel before dark. I drove around the course (habit now - I always do a loop before stopping), parked the car at one end of the lawn in question, and started my own little mini-sweep - a broom, a rake, and a small leaf blower.

I tend to get absorbed in my mission and lost myself in clearing the five feet of grass next to the street curb. I'd clear 30 feet with the rake, go back with the blower, blow the light/loose stuff into the road, and do the next 30 feet.

After a couple hundred feet I realized I was leaving sand packed in by the curb itself so I went back and dragged the leaf blower, point down into said sand, and walked along, tip dragging through the tightly packed sand, letting the blower explode the dirt out everywhere - road, air, my clothes, my hair. Then I went back and blew it all into the road.

Good thing is that the sprint lane will be clear on Sunday. Bad thing is there's more sweeping to do.

When I got to the last 50 feet of grass, I saw a horrible sight. A long patch of dirt, maybe four inches high, about two feet wide, and maybe eight feet long.

I needed a shovel, not a rake.

I gamely attacked it with my rake, alternating between loosening stuff up with that and blowing it onto the road with the blower.

This bit actually took longer to do than the rest of the area I'd already finished. I was surprised when some lights shone onto me - someone turning into the driveway at the bottom of the hill. Then it clicked.


I looked around - it was pretty dark, and in fact I couldn't see my car. And that was parked, what, like 150 feet away. I guess the lights on the lawn made it light enough for me to sweep and rake and I just didn't notice it getting darker.

Car headlights used as a light source once I realized it was dark. Note cleared curb but dirty road. I pushed all that sand off of the lawn and onto the road. Goal here was to get the salty sand off the lawn.

Car headlights light up the road. Note piles of sand. The object in front of the curb-side headlight is a little hand held blower. A wheeled blower would have been much better but I couldn't move it on my own, not easily anyway.

I finished up what I could, blew stuff further into the road (so the cars would move it around), and packed up the car. With a final check - I stopped to pick up a dead bottle I'd blown into the road - I was off.

I spent the next hour and change in the car, focusing on driving, listening to music, and getting a bit giddy with fatigue.

I realized that at some level I felt like the toad in hot water. You know, where if you put a toad in hot water it'll jump out but if you put it in cool water and then heat up the water, it won't jump out? Apparently it's not true but the idea is that small changes may not be noticed, and even if the result is the same at the end, you may not react similarly.

So for me, that evening, the fact that it got darker and darker kind of got lost on me until it was so dark that some car headlights surprised me.

But, as I drove, I realized this hot water thing applied in a much broader context.

When the original promoter of the Bethel Series handed me his thin stack of papers and told me I had to put the race on, that was a small change. I literally took possession of maybe 50 pages of notes, rider lists, extra flyers, and some other inconsequential things.

But, back at the time, I didn't tell him, "Yes, if I need to sweep the course on March 27, 2008 until 8 PM, I will." And all the other things that I've done over the years. Early rises. Sacrificing all sorts of things to get to Bethel and hold the races. Suffering through many years of not wanting to do it. So on and so forth.

I'm not saying I want to jump out of it. But the Series demands so much that I have a hard time realizing it. It's been part of my life for most of my adult life. I just did whatever I needed to do to get it done. The water got warmer, yes, but it always seemed okay. Now it's a whole different creature than it was back in the early 90s, and that's not a bad thing.

So, with that in mind, I'll be heading down to the Bethel area once again, to prepare for promoting the race and to see if, after spending some time and energy looking after the race itself, I can actually race it too.

Hope to see you out there.


Rebecca H. said...

Thanks so much for all the work you put into the races, Aki! I'll see you there.

Brian said...

Holy cow! Thank you for not only doing the work that you do, but for posting that. I honestly had no idea you had to go above and beyond to that degree, and I think a lot of people will appreciate your work as they read that post. We pay homage to the heroes on tv every weekend, but without drama or overstatement it's clear that the effort of people like yourself is what makes the sport possible and great. Thank you!

Aki said...

dorothy - thanks as always for coming out to the races.

bri - Thanks for the kind words. I think you now know where the sand came from at the bottom of the hill. I was hoping that the wind and expected rain would clear out a lot of the sand but that didn't happen.