Sunday, June 09, 2013

Event Services - 2013 White Plains Crit

I'm saying "Event Services" because I wasn't the promoter of the White Plains Crit, and in fact I'm in awe of the guys Joe and Craig that made the race come together last year. They provided a course, a window of time, officials, and all that. My part was to turn their race plan into some kind of reality. All they needed was to have some way of turning those BikeReg registrations into a start list to get the races going. That meant registration services.

They also needed a way to score the races, to be able to pick out numbers of a field sprinting across a finish line. That meant finish line services.

Luckily, through Carpe Diem Racing, I can do both things - we do them for the Bethel Spring Series. Fortunately I get a lot of "practice" sessions or shakedown sessions as it were - the first week of Bethel we had camera issues in the first few races of the day but after that things went super well. For White Plains we'd bring the same set up and do it all over again.

The day started on Saturday for me. Due to some scheduling things I wasn't able to get the Expedition down to our base camp for White Plains until Saturday night. Due to some overwhelming fatigue I stopped at a rest stop to rest a bit. After a bit of shut eye, which failed miserably, I got out the laptop to respond to a flurry of email questions (which made my phone ding like mad).

Mobile office.
The pile of clothing is from the Nutmeg State Games Crit which was earlier in the day.
Note that it's still light outside.

After handling most of the emails and hitting up the bathrooms I got going again. I still felt a bit tired so I focused hard on driving well. Inevitably my mind started playing tricks on me.

Was that really a set of headlights on my side of I-95?

Nah, couldn't be. I'm just tired.

Well it really does look like they're on my side.

Snap out of it man.

Or not.

Oh snap. It really is a car facing the wrong way.
Picture from the dash cam (DroidX running DailyRoads)

I made it to the base camp without incident. We hooked up the trailer at that point, checked the wiring (it all worked - brakes, turn signals, and lights), and rearranged the load a bit so we had two usable passenger seats in the Expedition. The two staff members that I was taking to the race would sit in the Expedition with me.

By the time we were all done I was wired and completely unable to sleep. I'd be up until almost 1 AM. With two alarms on my phone, set for 4:00 and 4:15, I was a bit worried that I'd oversleep. A long time ago I did some experiments with sleeping and I found that I could snap awake after two hours, four hours, and any time after six hours. On the other hand if I woke up an hour or three hours after falling asleep I was completely out of it. I didn't do any more studying of my sleep phenomena but I figured it had to be my REM sleep patterns. A body doesn't do well if woken up from REM sleep and my REM must happen at one and three hours.

Or something like that.

At any rate with shut eye at about 12:45 AM or so it meant that my wake up would come at a very bad three hour time frame.

Then I heard knocking.

"What time did you want to wake up?"
"What time did you want to wake up?"
"4..... what time is it?"

I snapped awake. Thinking back on the whole thing it makes sense. Four hours, fine. Three hours, when my phone went off, not fine.

Speaking of which... I checked my phone. It had been alarming for 45 minutes, its battery almost dead. So much for the phone alarm.

We quickly got ready and headed out, a bit late but still in a manageable state. This marked my first time ever driving with a trailer. It seemed pretty natural - the Expedition is a nice solid tow vehicle and the trailer is only about 2000 pounds. It made for a nice introduction to driving with a trailer. I didn't hit any parked cars, lamp posts, or even a curb.

This year registration was just across the street from the where we'd stick the camera trailer, and when I say "just across the street" I mean it was across a closed off street, a cross street, not part of the course. We could meander back and forth at will.

Much, much, much better than last year.

Finish line camera on the trailer.

Another view. They actually put water in the hollow barriers.
Note spare generator.

The other side of the camera.
Jonathan is up on the trailer, David standing on the ground.

The view from the camera barriers, to the left.
Expedition in front of Muscle Maker Grill, where we had registration.

The very busy Amrita guy set up shop right there too. Gluten free, vegan energy bars. He came to Bethel to hand out product as well.

The course view of the camera.

Registration reminded me of Belgium. It's a food place, after all, and all the chairs were pushed to the sides. Technically this reminded me of the changing area, a place, usually a bar, designated as a changing area for racers. Apparently in Belgium it's a big no-no to change in your car. I think the "get naked" part is the bit they frown on.

The only thing missing was 200 half naked racers, 200 support people (including girlfriends, wives, fathers, mothers, and whoever else you might think would ever be involved in bike racing), little tubs of hot water, towels, and a lot of talking and yelling. Interestingly enough although it may be illegal to change in your car there's nothing wrong with walking around naked in a packed-like-sardines "changing area".

A little more civilized in terms of racers getting ready to race.

The registration area.
Both those Cokes are mine.

When I raced in Belgium the registration table had a bunch of stations (if you will), one spot where you paid, one spot where they typed (using a typewriter!) your name on a sheet (apparently used for betting - you shouldn't bet on me unless there's a short type of bet), and then a spot where you pick up your number. I don't remember the exact order but it was something like that.

Oh and the whole time everyone was smoking.

For us it was a bit more straightforward. No smoking first of all. Pre-registered? Go left. Not pre-registered? Go right.

The day went well. We set up a bit slower than I expected, got going, handled the initial rush, and then things calmed down. It wasn't for lack of racers - there were a LOT of racers, more than any Bethel Spring Series. That's awesome for a crit in its second year.

The finish line camera also worked well. There were a few close sprints but on review they weren't that close.

At the end of the racing we were already packing up. The streets had to be cleared and open by 2 PM so we were scrambling after a 1:15 PM finish. We were putting the last of the stuff in the Expedition when the first bit of traffic rolled by.

Totally wired I drove back, my two helpers in the Expedition with me. We got to base camp, unhooked the trailer, parked it, and, after transferring some stuff from the trailer to the Expedition, I headed home.

A long, long day but a great success. Everything ran smoothly, except for my 4:45 AM wake up time, and things went well.

As "just" Event Services I didn't have to deal with anything other than registration and the finish line camera. I had total confidence in those two parts because they'd been working flawlessly at Bethel by the end of the first week of the Series. With nothing else to stress about, like traffic control and such, it really reduced any stress I felt.

It made for a great day.

1 comment:

Craig said...

Aki, I guess it's all in the perspective. From my perspective your day was anything but easy, but having you and Carpe Diem provide race event services made our day so much easier. It allowed me to focus on the racers, safety of the course, and the other million things going on before, during and after the race. You shouldn't undersell the contribution you bring to a race event.

-- Craig