Saturday, April 04, 2009

Bethel Spring Series 2009 - Pre Circuit Francis J Clarke

One more race to go in the Bethel Spring Series for 2009. Seems like it went by quickly. No break for Easter and one skipped race meant 5 weeks of racing in a row.

For me it has meant 3 weeks of pre-reg (Gene did the other two, or three really since there was that first canceled race), and 5 (or 6) weeks of just getting ready for the race. Part of that means driving - not only have I driven down for the race each week, I've also made the drive down there a few extra times; once to do Sweep, once to fix the van, and the last one to pick up the trophies and pre-load the van with stuff (that was last Wednesday - too much stuff to carry in one car for the last race).

Overall it's been an exciting Series. Typically we'll see an outright leader in a few categories long before the last race of the Series, but this year it's not quite so clear. There is the Masters 40+ race, ably led by Stephen Gray (Bethel Cycle), holding an 8 point lead. Margaret Shirley (CRCA/Radical Media) holds a 6 point lead, also quite significant for the finale.

But the other races are closer.

In the Cat 5s it's a total free for all, with 11 riders holding numeric chances for a win. Realistically there are four serious contenders, with another four just behind. Any of the riders could easily win, and with the field stacked for the final race, guys won't be able to snag any "easy" points.

The Cat 4 overall turned out to be a two man race. Brian Kelley (Pawling Cycle & Sport) and Guido Wollman (Unattached, but known as "The German") are neck and neck, separated by two points. The battle for the Verge Leader's Jersey will be tight, but so will the fight for the last spot on the podium. Two guys are fighting for that, but technically four more guys have a fighting chance at gaining that podium spot (albeit with a win).

The Juniors race has been sadly lacking, but the consistent attendance by the powerful Jordan Strober (racing with his dad no less) has guaranteed him a Jersey. Although he's been using the Junior race as a warm up, he looks more like a powerhouse Cat 2 Senior.

The 3-4 race was tight, and is pretty much an open race. Stephen Gray, he of the M40 race, leads here by 4 points. However, with 10 points on the line for the win, literally anyone can step as high as the second podium spot for the final. Realistically the contenders would include the five riders behind Gray, with the next six riders holding an outside shot at a podium finish.

The P123 race has played out like the 3-4 race, just at a much higher pace. Although Target Training's Eneas Freyre holds the lead with 13 points, there are eleven (!) riders who could win the Series if Freyre finishes out of the points on Sunday. With a reality check in place, I'd limit the serious contenders to perhaps the three riders just behind him, with a further four riders a threat (especially since two of those four have won races this year).

For me the race means a bit more than my performance on the bike. The weather finally cooperated with the race for the first time in maybe 4 years, and it's hard to believe that it's only the first week of April. When we started the Series, our first race was in April. Now we're finishing just as the month begins.

This year marks a big change in how we ran the race too. For the first time in many years we relied less on volunteers and more on folks that committed to helping out each week. This meant a less stressful event for me because I could count on a number of people to help me during the day.

It also marks the first year where I have an actual clue about how the race does financially. Although I sank a lot of my own money into the race over the winter, the race should finish up in the black, or so I hope. Once we get all the final bills and such we'll know, but it looks promising so far. The big payout will be this weekend - not only will we pay our standard prize money, we'll also be giving out $1500 in overall prize money as well. It's all good though - it's what made the race what it is now.

At the same time I don't forsee me buying my dream "registration in a trailer" trailer any time soon. Maybe in a couple years.

So, for now, today, I'll get ready to drive down to my dad's. My last tasks will be to get my bike ready, stuff envelopes with prize money for overall, and pack up the car.

And maybe ride a bit.

After all, there's a race to race tomorrow.

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