Monday, March 05, 2012

Promoting - 2012 Ronde de Bethel

Yeppers. The beginning of the season, as far as I was concerned. With no Red Trolley in early February (in SoCal), my first race would be the Ronde. Not that Ronde, this Ronde.

I brought the van down a week earlier, the Missus following me in my car. We dropped off the van and headed back together in the car. Lucky for me, because I couldn't make it down in time for the Sweep Day sweep.

I did make it down a couple hours late (leaving the Missus behind, very unusual for the first Bethel), met up with some guys, discussed some of the aspects of running the race, and headed over to my dad's house.

Of course, without the Missus to gently remind me on things I forget, I showed up with no toothpaste, no toothbrush, no shampoo, no this, no that. Luckily the family hooked me up with what I needed, but I have to remember that for next time I need to bring all that stuff.

I was a bit more careful with my bike stuff - with limited space at the newly created Panificio Navona I can't store stuff onsite anymore - we go in with everything and we leave with everything. I had my gear bag, carefully packed, and my electronic stuff was socked away in my computer bag. Helmets (two of them), check. Helmet cam, check. Shoes, check.

For the race itself I had a stack of plastic bins, a couple for the start/finish line, the rest for the indoor registration tables. Laptops (one for each side), cameras (a new camera setup so we can pick every finisher), and a slew of cables.

I looked a few times and realized I bought a pair of HDMI cables (primary and backup) and, by accident, a second pair of HDMI cables instead of the powered 25' USB extension cables (again, primary and backup).

Throughout the day I kept chiding myself about the USB cable screw up - the guys doing the finish camera would have to pull the camera down each time they did a race. Not good, and it was my fault.

I set up camp on the kitchen table, recharging the radios, charging three Contour cameras (helmet cam plus two finish line cams), two laptops, my Sportsiiiis, and I forget what else. Oh, my phone.

I skipped my SRM, figuring I just charged the thing.

My dad came in a few times to see how I was doing. I think it was a bit perturbing to see half the kitchen table covered in cables, bins and computers.

Sunday arrived all too quickly. I was up at 5:15, dwaddled a bit, and got to the race only at 6:05 AM.

Unpacking for the race ahead.
Those tires are from a tire swap I did with a teammate.
Folding hand cart is nice.

Frank and his crew were already hard at work, setting up signs, getting our spot ready for us. I think a few racers got there within 20 minutes, before I even got everything out of the car.

From there the day just accelerated. With the warm weather, a canceled series in New Jersey (due to road construction), a crazy early morning race in New York (massive crashes), the racers flocked to Bethel.

Outdoor Sports Center was there for the day. Scott, one of the owners, was there, helping out, taking pictures, and basically soaked up the atmosphere.

Training wheels, with the race wheels in the bag behind.
The bars are still level. Heh.

With a lot of people seeing each other for the first time since the last races in August or September, it took a while to walk through to registration, with people pausing to say hi or catch up on the latest.

A new thing for 2012 are the Cat 5 clinics. I'm requiring them for every Cat 5, every week. Every rider will take the beginner clinic first, covering some boring stuff and setting some basic ground rules for racing in a group. After that we'll have a more interesting clinic each week, ones that cover more technique stuff and less safety stuff.

Any rider doing his first Series race will get to take a beginner clinic, regardless of the week. All others will get to do the "Clinic Du Jour", whatever that may cover that week.

I went out to the 50 riders waiting for the clinic, a bit late kitting up as I had to answer some questions just before. I could feel all the heads turning towards me, expectant, waiting for me to say something. I forgot what I said, but it was something I didn't plan on saying, it just sort of went out before I could stop it.

"You guys psyched??"

I went over the Chalk Talk bit, the "lecture" if you will. I went over the ideas of responsibility for yourself and your equipment. As part of it I talked about the concept of results versus "by the book". As an example I mentioned the idea of tightening stem bolts to spec but still having the handlebars move a bit.

Therefore, I said, you should check your bars, your levers, your stem, your saddle, and make sure they won't move if you hit a bump or something.

To demonstrate I yanked on my own bike's lever, tried to turn the bars back and forth, and loaded some weight on the hoods.

My bars slipped down.

After a moment's hesitation I looked up.

"So, um, you should make sure everything is tight."

I discretely checked the bars - they weren't moving any more so I could do the clinic on them, just carefully.

We rolled out to get used ton parallel riding, trying to keep gaps closed, and looking down to look back. After a couple laps we stopped to talk about pacelines, went back out, did some pacelines, and then everyone lined up.

I wanted to stay and watch and yell advice from the sidelines but after a lap some race thing pulled me away. After the races I got a lot of compliments on the clinic, that it was fun and educational and the humor (I don't think of myself as a humorous kind of guy) made it an enjoyable thing.

Score one success for 2012.

As the races played out Jonathan, running the camera, reported that they were working out great. You can see by the results that we were getting a lot of numbers, and we were getting them quickly. We had more delays just finding time to type them into the computer (which we were also using for registration) versus getting the actual results. For next week I hope to have a faster, more integrated system for getting results up.

Score another success for 2012.

I raced the 3-4s and P123s, but that's for the next post.

Afterward the girls and I worked on registration. I tried to think of all the things I forget about when I do this. The Missus is the expert, but she wasn't here. Arianna, one of the girls, is also an expert, but she wasn't here either. So it was me and Erin and Delaney working on it.

We finally finished up the (virtual) paperwork while other race folks (women, to be totally clear - when I tried my hand at it they had to do my work over again) cleaned the bathrooms. We had to do ours, but the other one was so bad they cleaned that one too.

I asked if there were things I could do for next week. I noticed the scattered, stacked numbers, something we deal with every year. A portable six drawer cabinet would work great to help organize this, and the girls concurred. I want to get a better set up for the folders too, but I think much of that will happen as a result of putting the various category stuff into the six drawers.

We ran out of pens because I forgot to tell the girls there were a few boxes of pens in one of the bins.

I thought about, and decided against, breaking out the release forms by category. With limited registration staff it would be hard to keep track of license and minor (Junior) signatures. So we'll stay with just one master list of releases.

A P123 racer, working with me on the overall and team GC spreadsheets, reminded me to send him data. I probably had a snarl on my face by that time (I was exhausted) but that was meant to be a smile and a thanks.

I thought about all the waivers I forgot to print before this race, mainly ones that were corrections and additions during Friday and Saturday. With no printer set up Saturday I couldn't print, and by the time we were set up Sunday we'd been slammed by racers, questions, and such. Next week I had to print the additional releases earlier.

With these notes and others in mind, we started packing up. We loaded up my car with everything, everyone pitching in. Frank sent us off with some baked goods, all the race staff rolling out at about the same time.

I called the Missus to let her know I was on my way home.

A very long hour and a half later, I rolled into the driveway. Snow sat everywhere on the lawn, I couldn't get into the right rear door because of snow. It felt a lot cooler, well below freezing, in the upper 20s. What a change from the almost balmy Bethel conditions just a few hours ago.

I hauled out the bins, a good eight or ten of them, laboriously dragging them into the house.

The Missus came out to give me a hug and a kiss. It'd been a long day for her too, and it was good to see her again. She helped with a few things, light ones, but otherwise let me handle the bins.

Home sweet home.


Matt said...

I don't race your series and doubt I ever will (I'm not in the area), but thanks for doing this. You are a huge asset to the sport.

The Crew at Cheshire Cycle said...

Every year, I'm amazed by the calmness and skill of "the girls" working registration. They make other race promoters jealous.

Aki said...

I think that "the girls" are great and it makes a huge, huge difference in the race experience.

Someone asked me where I find people like them and I replied it was a long term thing. I meet their parents, meet the kids as they are born and then start growing up, and when they can help out I ask the parents if they can help. I've known the younger staff literally since they were born. I trust them implicitly.

And all that above is not a diss on "the guy" that helps too, nor everyone else. I trust them implicitly too.

Anonymous said...

first time ever doing the spring series here. everything i thought went very smooth from the races running on time to the "Bathroom" arrows pointing me towards the porter potty.

Aki said...

Thanks for the kind words. I hope you had a good race as well.

The Bathroom arrows are the registration girls' idea, and a good one at that. I can't take any credit for that.