Friday, March 14, 2008

Bethel Spring Series - pre-Tour de Kirche

Earlier this year someone asked me about the various names of the Bethel Spring Series. He didn't realize that they all happened on the same course, essentially the same race each week. I told him I plugged in Tour de Bethel into AltaVista's Babel Fish site and got what apparently is a translation of "Tour of House of God" in multiple different languages.

I chose the ones that sounded about right (I have no idea if Kirche really means "House of God") and made up some Classic sounding names for the rest of them - the Criterium de Bethel (i.e. Criterium International), Circuit de Francis J Clarke (i.e. Circuit Het Volk or Omloop Het Volk), and the FDJ Gold Race (i.e. Amstel Gold Race).

Look, if I can't ever do those races, at least I can do facsimiles of them.

Anyway, names aside, last year we had one day where we woke up to see the roads absolutely covered in snow. We had to cancel the race. The race name that week? Tour de Kirche.

It happens to be the race coming up.

And the forecast calls for snow.

At 9 AM in the morning.

So.... for now, I've changed the index page of the race site to reflect the fact that the race just might be canceled Saturday. It depends on what the weather folk say. Two days ago it was going to be nice, then yesterday that nice forecast disappeared and this alternative one returned.

In some ways it'd be nice to take a break. However we already have a break next weekend - Easter Sunday.

So, although there are those who would disagree, I'm hoping for a nice forecast for the Tour de Kirche.

Once the Series gets going, it sort of carries itself on a mixture of momentum, rote work, and exhausted personnel.

One thing that I really wanted to do this year was to get the results up quickly. I got a taste of the customer side of things when I went to check the results of a race series where I placed. I had no idea who placed around me and, well, I was curious.

It took only a couple days to get the results up but those couple days drove me crazy. Yeah, I could have emailed the promoter or something but, you know what? I wouldn't want someone emailing me about results I posted day of race.

Instead I waited (im)patiently.

I don't want the racers at Bethel to go through this so I've tried to streamline the results posting process. So far it's been, well, reasonable. Results went up once while I was still at the race course (some of the Pro-1-2-3s were still cooling down) and once right when I got home (but that was at 8:30 PM). My goal is to get them up while still at the race course.

Not quite "Live" coverage but it's pretty close. And for a race like Bethel, that's pretty good. Compared to the weeks for VeloNews (the print version, not the virtual one) or the months for Winning Magazine to get results, a few hours seems pretty good to me.

I have yet to do one race report. No time during the races and I don't remember anything afterwards. I used to make notes as I swept or marshaled or whatever but this year I just haven't done that. I seem to have lost my short term memory too, so when I try and recall someone's name, I feel like that blue fish in Nemo.

You know the fish, it's... err... the blue one.

I forget her name.

Anyway, in the past years I've faked it by checking out other people's emailed reports - but this year I think everyone is forgetting what happened. I've barely gotten any. One. Maybe two. Not four or six or eight every week.

So until the reports come in, no race reports.

By the way, I'm the one embellishing them, not the original emailers. So when I wrote something like "a series of withering attacks" it's because I wanted to write that and I felt it applied to the rider in question.

If you haven't seen the race reports from past years, I made them really small and discrete at the bottom of the weekly results.

Ah well. That's all in the past for now.

And though it makes for some good reading, what concerns me right now is the weather for Sunday.

Keepin' my fingers crossed.


captkweb said...

The time in which the results are posted is fantastic. It's better than ever before. I applaud you for all the work that you do to keep the series running smoothly. Perhaps adding the field size for each race may be interesting if possible.

slowroadie said...


I agree with all the other folks who have been singing your praises. I know the missus is probably hoping for snow ;-), but DON'T CANCEL this week! Weather is calling for possible snow showers. The stuff won't even stick :-)

Anonymous said...


kirche = church

gott = God

ltc tim

Anonymous said...

Hi Aki,
What would it take to cancel Sunday's race?
Would it get called off for a light dusting of snow, or only if conditions become completely unridable?
Also, I'm planning on coming from pretty far out of town tomorrow. Is there somewhere I can check to tell whether or not the race is still on? Thanks a lot, and I'm looking forward to it.

Aki said...

Captkweb - Thanks for the kind words. I've said it over and over, that's what keeps things rolling for the races. Field size is a good idea, I'll try and add it. We've had some consistently large fields (80+ for a couple last week) and even I didn't know how many there were until I found out how many places we paid (for 3-4s and P123s we pay minimum 5 and for over 50 we pay the "tens" digit, i.e. 8x riders, 8 places).

As pointed out in an earlier comment, we also try and give some decent primes too, because once we hit a certain number we just need to dump money. It's no use making more money when there's no where to spend it! The first lap of the P123 was worth $50/$30 on March 9 - totaling a little less than the win's prize money. One team went away with about $400 from that race alone. It's fun to hand out money :)

tyrade - I have to admit that the missus is hoping for snow - as an accountant she's working 6 days a week right now (through the end of tax season). And then, after her long week at work, she's spending the rest of her Saturday helping me prepare everything for the race, then Sunday at the races. So please say thanks next time you register :)

anon1 - kirche=church, got it. I wonder what people in Germany think of the race - "What, they do laps inside a church?"

anon2 - I'll post on the site ( - the entry page with the big picture that I need to downsize) as well as update the message at the phone (it's my cell) listed in "CT Info" inside the site. I am going to call the co-promoter this morning to discuss, probably before 11 AM, maybe before 10 AM.

The thing about snow is not necessarily if it's sticking but if it'll cause any danger in the field - even a little bit of granular snow can wreak havoc in a field sprint. What I really don't want are massive crashes caused by icy/snowy conditions. Right now the snow is probably going to happen before the 5s start, then continue on through the rest of the morning. This implies slippery conditions for virtually all the races, and although I'm willing to put down salt, crashing on salt just doesn't sound pleasant.

I will probably be making the call before 11 AM local time Saturday and update both the site and cell phone accordingly.

btw when I go to sleep Sat night, I turn the cell phone off. This way any anxious racers can call at any hour and get the latest status. So feel free to call the number listed on the site literally at any time between Sat night and Sunday morning. This goes for all weeks of Bethel.