Friday, April 02, 2010

Promoting Races - Follow Up On Bethel CDP Gold Race Comments

I felt it was important to update even casual visitors of the site with some of my thoughts on the race promoting thing so I'm posting a comment really meant for here as a post.

Several things, but before I get into stuff, thanks for all the feedback, good and bad (seriously, I find it all really helpful).

First, because Mrs SDC understands more than anyone else what I go through, I'll address her comment first. I think that anonymous comments have a place. She understands that too. I have to admit she does get very defensive for me when she sees what I put into the race and then have someone, anyone, not like something about it. If there is any constructive criticism from an anon post, then great, I welcome it.

Note: After a bunch of spam posts (scams and such) I decided to moderate the posts. This means I allow every comment that appears to appear. Most (all?) of the comments have been less than NC-17 rated. PG-13 is fine. I believe I did not approve only one comment in all of the blog. It was one where I felt unclear if it was spam or not (it was a friend who said something innocuous which could be a response to any blog post anywhere). So as critical as a comment may appear, I allowed it to appear.

Anyway, since blogs are essentially dictatorships (the contributors are the dictators), my goal is to make my blog a "benevolent dictatorship" befitting my name's origin. Moderating comments allows me to get rid of the spam comments that go like "I really like what you wrote, and I've been following your blog for a while. Check out my blog, it's tinyurl.blah.blah" (and it links to porn or a scam or whatever) while allowing everyone, good or "bad", to comment on what I write.

Second, the pee-er was DQed on the spot. I'm thinking of further things, Series ban (annual or for x years or forever), "police blotter" page on CDR (for all infractions, not just that one), etc. For now it's just a DQ on the day.

Third, one of the problems with an early season race is that there are new rules that many people don't know about. For example, this year helmets have to be approved by certain US organizations (CPSC etc). In 2009 European-approved helmets were allowed, but no longer. There have been some riders showing up at the 2010 races using a helmet that is not approved for 2010 USAC races. Some of these riders are sporting brand new helmets too, which is a pity.

If you didn't know that rule, you should review the rulebook here. If you want to read it in sections, go here and select the sections. When you sign your license you acknowledge you're going to follow said rules.

Being close to NY doesn't help the CT events any since NY officials don't regularly enforce some significant USAC rules which have been in place for years. For example, if you go to a NY/NJ race at any time of the year, you'll see dozens of racers milling around on their bikes without helmets on. That's technically a suspendable offense (until you pay a fine). In NY/NJ, from what I've observed, that's considered acceptable. In New England it is not. In fact, it is such a problem that someone brought it up in a NEBRA meeting earlier in the year. So the combination of new rules plus riders used to not following other rules makes for some learning "the hard way".

Also, and related to the race last Sunday, in NY, at least in NYC where some races don't have public restrooms, peeing in public is kind of a given. In CT it is not.

Ironically, I think the "wear your helmet even when warming up" rule originated after two riders died warming up for races in NJ. I remember reading about two Masters riders dying over maybe two weeks one spring, both crashing while warming up for a race.

Just to clarify my thoughts, NY/NJ is not better or worse, it's just different. My favorite part of the season used to be all the (now-defunct) crits in NJ in May (Scotch Plains, Nutley, Stirling - it's still on, Freehold) and the season ending Oyster Bay Crit.

Fourth, although I may have written about wattage and tactics and made "casual observations", it doesn't mean that's what I think about all day (or all week). See, there's this crucial thing: the blog is not reality.

Shocker, I know.

Let's look at some of the things I wrote about in the post above.

I mention team tactics. It's something that I talk about on a Monday night at a team meeting, but on a Bethel Sunday? No. I leave it up to my teammates to figure out what they'll do; my requirements are minimal. In fact, my teammates came to me towards the end of the race wondering what to do because, frankly, we hadn't discussed it beforehand, except at a team meeting maybe 5 weeks prior (last Monday in February). Although I may mull over tactics "in font", most tactics are stuff I've already learned or have become automatic for me. Or, in the case of teamwork, stuff I think about during the race.

I mention power. I may write about it, but if you are a racer with a powermeter, you'll know that wattage is about as automatic as having a car with a tachometer. Maybe a speedometer. You know about how fast you go, or that you rarely rev the engine above a certain level, but that's not what you obsess about while you drive.

In fact, I'm a terrible example of a racer with a powermeter because, frankly, I use it as a widget ("Cool, lookit this spike!"), not as much as a training or racing tool. I may choose to write about power, and I mull over power stuff now and then, but at Bethel it's about the furthest thing from my mind. My main concern with power for the race - I just hope I didn't forget my powermeter or heartrate strap at home on Saturday.

I try and write truths in the blog. I may make "recollection errors", or recollect things I thought were truths but were in fact not. Fine. The blog is a selective subset of my experiences. Even for racing it's a selective subset for the day. In the post I didn't mention that I went with a break in the 3-4 race, and, for me, that's really significant. But in the post, not so much. Likewise, there are a lot of things I don't mention about promoting the race. Those are not necessarily stuff I feel like writing about, and you'd be bored to death to know that I jogged over to the portapotties, checked TP in all of them, and used one. Or maybe not, I don't know.

Regular readers of the blog will also notice a distinct lack of mid-week posts right now (even promised ones - samurai swords and Tsunami review come to mind right away), and, in the recent past just before the Series, a week long period of "prepared posts", including one that wasn't even complete. There have also been weird posts - like why did I post my review of the Paris Nice DVD now?

These interruptions in the "regular program" are due to the amount of time I'm spending doing stuff for the race and the physical exhaustion accompanying it. I actually had a series of prepared posts for during the race but virtually none of them were posted because I haven't had time to finish them.

However, after all that, I think that the folks that say that I need to step up my game are right.

So, with that in mind, and with the whole traffic thing a huge problem for the next two races, there will be a few things slightly different for racers. This will be replicated on the site at some point in the near future.
- No riding in the parking lot in front of or around the registration building.
- No hanging out in the driveway of said parking lot, with or without bikes.
- Finish line will be moved a bit more to make more room in the driveway.
- I finally figured out, after many abortive attempts, on how to format a spreadsheet to fit USAC's results requirements. Those will be going in in the next week or so. The first two week's of results are in.
- I still have to work on marshals.
- We cannot speed up cars on the course, unfortunately.

Oh, and something I just learned about (I didn't know this happened until after the weekend).

We had a few "clever" people claim they were volleyball people, pull into the lot, and then get ready to race. If anyone does that the folks in the car will be disqualified from the race and the whole

Otherwise we'll do things as normal. We try to have start times, decent prizes, finish line camera, portapotties, a swept course, grate covers, pre-reg and day-of-race reg, a polite and helpful set of helpers, and a fun set of races.

Hopefully we can make it so.


YaniCan said...

I find it good to know that Aki isn't just a race promoting, 3000 word bf posting, trainer enjoying, sprinting robot. Since a robot would have no use for a porta-potty.

As an outside observer I've always noticed how much people seem to enjoy these races and overall I don't see any complaints from the racers. Don't let a few anon critics get to you, you can't please every one but you seem to be doing a good job of making most happy.

Anonymous said...

"...I think that the folks that say that I need to step up my game are right." -- Aki, to the best of my knowledge, there's just one anonymous poster making such a claim. Everyone else couldn't imagine you stepping up your game any more. The effort you put in to make this race such a success is amazing. If anyone needs to step up, it is us (the race participants).

Please don't waste any more of your sparse time responding to such unfounded claims about your commitment and focus!

Jeremy said...

I haven't raced at Bethel (the drive from Eastern MA is the far side of my usual tolerance and with a 6 week old now, even more so this year), but from everything I see and read (here and elsewhere), you go above and beyond the call of duty to make things happen as smoothly and awesomely as possible.

Don't let the haters get you down :-)

Rebecca H. said...

You do an amazing job with the race -- thanks SO much!!

adj said...

Hey, just wanted to say hi on here and I hope the rest of the series goes well. And congrats on the win :)


Anonymous said...

I'm with Dennis--there isn't any way you can "step up your game." The internet is, unfortunately, filled with barely literate snivelers, who feel the need to trash everything. And as YaniCan said, nearly everyone enjoys the races, and most of us out there are more than willing to be good citizens, and help you out, if that means the races will continue.

Anonymous said...

Aki, you don't have to justify your actions. You do an outstanding job of race promotion, and you're a nice guy on top of that. If some people don't want to play by the rules, they can go elsewhere. By the way *haha*, I'm unable to be in Bethel because I'm training on the Suncoast Trail in FL. Too bad I missed you last time you were down here.

John said...

I would just like to tell you how much I appreciate your blog and especially your videos. In Toronto we get no racing, and being from Portugal where we had a race crossing through the city almost every weekend, I like to see all the action I can. So thank you again.

And now a question, I just watched the Nutmeg State Games video again, and I noticed your gloves (at the start) are those work mechanic gloves? I've never thought of wearing those, how do you like wearing those? How's the confort level?

Jeff A. Murray said...


You may want to think about adding these comments to the Bikereg conformation email so at least the pre-reg people will have advance notice of the new rules.

You do an awesome job on the series. I've promoted my share of races and know what kind of hard work goes into putting on one race. I can only imagine doing it for a six week series. My hat is off to you.

Enjoy your weekend off!


Aki said...

Thanks for all the comments. I'm sorry that I'm not just a race promoter, 3000 wpp, trainer enjoying, sprinting robot :)

Seriously, though, I think it's good for me to get feedback, good or bad, because I get stuck into ruts.

With gloves - I find that long finger gloves are extremely useful if I ever fall. I hadn't fallen in a while but I always considered long finger gloves as "safety gear".

Skinned fingertips really hurt, especially if you type as much as I do. I no longer have those Mechanix gloves - a bunch of their fingertips got shredded in last August. I now have Bontrager gloves.

Having said that, the Mechanix gloves were fine, no padding, good grip in the rain, well vented. I decided to buy the Bontragers because we're sponsored by a shop that sells them. They work fine so far, I've raced in them a couple times, rode them a couple times.

Jeff A. Murray said...

Coming from motocross, I always used to wear motocross gloves when MTB riding and use them today when the weather is in the 50's on my road bike. I've never thought of using them in the summer.

The MX gloves have better knuckle padding and have the same feel in the palm as the mechanix. Plus they're vented.