Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Bethel Spring Series - Trials and Tribulations and GC

This year I made a change in the way I'd post results. I wanted to get feedback, give a venue for racers to talk about what happened at the races, ask questions, and all that - but in a public forum. So I linked the results to the blog, with the intent of posting, at a later time, complete results on the actual site (so we have two copies of it, one on our servers, one elsewhere).

I figured this was good for a few reasons.

First, I don't have to check email quite so often. If someone doesn't put in a subject line or word in an email, it shows up as [NONE] in my email - and those get deleted right away. Since my email is easily trolled (it appears on all the carpediemracing.org pages), I get one to three hundred emails a day, most of it spam. I'm ruthless about deleting email and I'm sure I've deleted more than a few "real" inquiries. I do look for names I recognize before I delete but since this might involve clearing 5 pages of 200 emails each, I only do a light scan before purges.

Second, since some people grumble privately about things and don't feel like telling me about it, I figured I'd get the most honest feedback about the races. Public opinion tends to be the most ruthless of them all. My goal is to improve the race without losing its informal character, to keep it a fun and enjoyable spring series.

Finally, to be completely frank, I wanted people to hit the blog and see if they read any other part of it. I'm just as curious as to what people think of the blog and wanted to have more people check it out.

As a side note, since I screwed up my tracking code, I don't have any 2008 site statistics before March 3 or so. This means I can only guess at how many people hit the site. The blog has the tracking data (and Google didn't mess up their own code) so it's easier for me to see that, yeah, people want to see their results.

This knowledge is pressure enough that I want to get the results posted as close to real time as possible, to the extent that I got a broadband wireless card specifically for this reason (a new for 2008 race "feature").

So how did putting the results on the blog go?

Well... I think the fighting has finally died down after two days of somewhat continuous posts as well as off-line emails and comments I've gotten via email or phone.

But that hasn't been all of "Bethel" in 2008, believe it or not. I've forgotten some things that happened at the races in my post-race-post-promotion-gotta-get-home haze.

So here are a couple.

First, because this sort of pisses me off. It's about this one Cat 5 rider that came into the tent, talked to the missus, and said that he simply couldn't race in this cold. The missus, bending the rules just a bit, gave the racer back his entry fee. Look we're human and all that.

When the results came in she printed them to post on the van. One name in particular jogged her memory.

Yep, the guy who was "too cold to race".

Incredible. Although some riders may call me names (and others question why I don't ban racers so readily when they call me names), I'm calling this guy a name and it's not a nice one. Not only that, this particular racer will be put onto a somewhat permanent list of those-not-to-be-trusted.

I've compiled this list over the many years of the Series and right now it has.... two names on it. And one racer, who shall remain nameless, races regularly at Bethel and has raced regularly at Bethel, probably for all but a year or two of its existence.

This guy got himself on a pretty sweet short list.

Being the good hearted person I am, I won't reveal his name except to those race promoters who ask me for his name. And I will reveal his name, privately, to that that ask, only after I receive verification from the racer's family (he dutifully provided his name and phone number on his release form).

I can't believe I forgot to mention that in my recap because, except for one unbelievable incident from 10+ years ago, I've never had a person flat out lie to us to take money. The other incident took place in the then Cat 1-2-3 race when a very, very well known racer claimed to have taken the last paying spot. He dutifully named some racers in front of him, some next to him, and he seemed on the up and up. We had no camera at the time (we were saving up for one) so I had no proof one way or another. I paid him even though I didn't know if it was accurate because, well, he's a very, very well known racer and I figured he probably knew.

After the well known racer left, another one, a friendly sort, came up to me.

"What did Well Known Racer want?"
"Oh, we missed him in the field sprint. He got 6th. So I gave him his money."
"What?! No F'ing way he was in the sprint. I watched him - he stopped at the bell and watched the sprint. He was standing right next to me!"

Yeah, I felt used. And it took another couple entries to buy a DV tape for our camcorder, because the DV tape money had driven away in that guy's pocket.

These things do happen. Luckily, except for a sense of right or wrong (or of being used or not), the races don't really matter for me. I don't need the races to make any money other than so I can give it away in primes or prize money or to pay to hold the race. So ultimately the shortsightedness of a few simply hurts my faith in racers, not the race.

Now, just because I said that, I don't want to be flooded with a slew of "Yeah but I got whatever place" next week. We have a camera now :)

On a good note, I started out some race last Sunday and noticed an Horst/Benidorm racer having some problems with his pedals or something. They wear the orange kits and hail from my new hometown area. I used to be pretty intense rivals with some of their riders, at least until they upgraded out of 3s. I ruined one particular rider's day many times, some of them literally feet from the line, ending an unsuccessful 10 or so lap solo moves heartbreakingly close to the finish. But, as I told some guys who wondered if he'd ever win a race, the move will eventually work.

It worked the following week and he beat me by about 20 feet.

Whatever, as a whole they're stronger than me and they race races I've never finished. And they win and place in them.

Anyway, the poor guy had some problem and wasn't doing much to pedal his bike. He seemed to tower over me which might be an illusion on my part, since I'm about as short as they get when sitting on the bike. I moved my left hand right next to the stem (the only way to hold the bars if you're about to push someone) and reached out my right hand. As I closed in, I braced myself and put my hand on his hip.

And shoved him forward hard.

I tried not to slow so much that the guy behind me would slam into me, and since no one did, it seemed to have worked.

I had no idea if my little push helped (I heard a "Thanks" but that's like saying "Bless you" when someone sneezes) but I know I've been the recipient of dozens and dozens of such pushes over the years and although some were a bit enthusiastic, I've never complained about receiving one.

Ends up that he really did have a problem. And no matter how experienced you are, it really, really sucks to watch the field ride away from you for no good reason.

So, you're welcome for the push. Glad it helped.

Posting results on an interactive blog also allows me to see who's posting things (if they want me to). By checking out links I can see what other racers thought of the racing, the promoters (i.e. if I'm doing an okay job), and things like riders, equipment, fitness, things like that.

Some of the ones I found:
The Bell-Lap
answers to questions you didn't ask (2nd week)
answers to questions you didn't ask (1st week)
Millwork One

Sommerville Sports

So the reason for coming here today (at least for me) was to neaten up the results from the first week. I then spent a lot of time figuring out how to get the GC stuff to go smoothly and efficiently. I managed to work out a semblance of a system, put it to use, and now have GC and team GC posted.

Not very neat but I'll see if I can fix it tomorrow.

Let the comments begin.


Anonymous said...

Just leaving a comment to let you know your blog is on my feeder and I read just about every post you make. I don't generally comment but I definitely do enjoy the write-ups.

On a side note, you'll also be happy to know you even get some mention on Sound Cyclist group rides (a local area club if you're unfamiliar).

So, yeah, you have readership. When you get your visitor stats, I'm sure they will agree.

I made it up to Bethel on the 2nd and watched the 5 races in the AM. I plan on racing the 16th and/or (if not then) the week after.

I'll keep my fingers crossed for a little help from the sun, too.

Anonymous said...

Aki - thanks for giving my Blog a shout out. Now I may have more than my dad and teammates reading. My only question, why do you not list all the placings in a race like a crit. I know that many guys like to see where they finished overall even if it is 20th-80th. I would think alot of Cat3s would like a top25 in the Pro1-3 submitted to USA cycling especially to help out with upgrade credits. Just wondering. Otherwise, I love your blog and the races get better every week.

Best regards,

Brett Walker said...

Hi Aki, Great race series. I have been driving down from NH to get in some early season racing and have been having a great time. Any thought of making the races longer as the series progresses? (week 1 23 laps, week 3 25, and so on)

Also, Hammer Nutrition sponsors a lot of races. I am sure they would be happy to sponsor this race series. Basically they will give you a bunch of free product to give away. What cyclist doesn’t like free stuff? It may be too late for this year.

Brett Walker
1st Person from NH to Complete Solo RAAM

Aki said...

Jesse - np on the blog, one good turn deserves another.

Regarding places, I don't have a good system in place for getting all the places. At first we'd do 6, then 10, and now 20, but it's not straightforward, esp the last race. I'd like to get it better but it may take a while as we need either a better camera or some other way of doing it. We sort of cheaped out by doing the photo finish ourselves but for us that's 1/2 to 1/3 the prize money daily (I think). And 1/3 the series. So we didn't want to sacrifice that.

Brett - Someone asked me the same thing because the last time we did laps, we added 1, 2, or 3 laps per week. I spaced on this and started everyone out on the minimum distance for upgrading (which meant increasing the distances for some races based on the distance covered in the previous time+lap format).

Since I already pushed the start times out a lot, I don' feel comfortable increasing the distances. I think next year, if things go smoothly with the schedule, I'll think about it. For this year I want to focus on doing more promotion work day of race and less on the days after.

thanks for the question though, this is exactly why I wanted to use an interactive setting to do race stuff.

Anonymous said...

Aki. Badger Here. You shouldnt have to deal with the freaks that take money for not placing or giving you crap. reading the blog parts about people threatening to sue you really got to me.

We should develop a council that would protect you from these clowns. Iron Mike, Angry Ron, Bwolfe, BHaas, Funk, Ruiz. Good guys in the sport that know why we race.

Also. continue to ignore the guys about adding laps. Make them show up at 5am and leave at 4pm and then ask them if they still want laps added.

you deserve huge kudos for putting the best spring series I have ever seen.

nobody cares about 25th. dont sweat the deep results either.

keep doing what you are doing.

80 guys in the 1,2 race... shows how this is a quality race.

just a few years ago it was 25 guys.

2 premes totally $180!!! plus top 8 getting paid!!! thats more money than some Road Races!

To you and gene and mrs Aki (amoung the dozens of others behind the scenes). Keep up the great work and try to get mother nature to be a carpediem fan.