Monday, March 17, 2014

Promoting - 2014 Tour de Kirche

So this has been the trying year with the Series. First was a tenant complaint regarding the races in 2013. The second has been an immense increase in park traffic due to a couple new businesses in the venue.

Aside from that I've had the normal issues with promoting races.

Race Results

The main thing from the prior week was post-results "protests" for lack of a better word. "Protest" implies something negative (have you ever heard of a "good" protest?) but it's the term used when someone disputes their finishing place. The standard rule has been, and has always been for as long as I remember, that any results need to be protested within 15 minutes of the time the results get posted.

Now, at Bethel we do understand that racers often do back-to-back races, and typically those racers are strong enough to place in their first race. Therefore it makes human sense to allow those racers to protest results that technically become official while they're on their bike racing their second race.

Anyone else, though, falls under the 15 minute rule. The idea is that anyone that has an interest in their place will check the results when they get posted, note any discrepancies, and then the results will get resolved.

About 15 people asked questions about their results from the Ris Van Bethel, the second race of the Series, as well as results from 2013.

Therefore, going forward, the officials made a point of having laminated signs posted at registration, made announcements at the start line about the 15 minute protest period.

Nevertheless a few racers contacted me regarding missing numbers in the finishes of the Cat 3-4 race, even after the efforts of the officials to explain the protest period rule.

Screenshot from the 2014 rulebook.

This was the biggest racer-related issue for the Tour de Kirche so it was relatively minor.

One thing I've done in the past but have not been able to do this year is to upload results before leaving the venue. I used to be able to upload the results immediately after the P123 stuff got finalized, but now it's not possible due to the amount of necessary packing up. If I can get stuff more honed in the "end of day" bit then I can devote energy to cleaning up and uploading results from the venue.

Course Control

The ongoing issue with traffic on the course was the main promoting issue for the Tour de Kirche. The traffic going to the two new businesses on the course kept the marshals and police officers busy with traffic control, and kept racers on their toes.

We have to keep in mind that the bike race is NOT the primary reason for the business park's existence. We borrow the park with the town's blessings but we have no right to it. Not keeping the stretch from the driveway->TurnOne clear was problematic and I had to kick three cyclists out of one of the off-limits parking lot.

I spent a core part of the day handling tenant complaints and working out solutions to their complaints, to the point that I did little else.

Course Conditions

The course was in admittedly less-than-ideal condition on Sunday morning, and even Sunday afternoon we had spots of sand on the course. The issue was the warm weather during the prior week melting all the snow and exposing a lot of sand and pebbles. By Saturday the course was such that there were 3 or 4 feet of sand sometimes inches deep along the shoulder of much of the course.

I arrived as early as possible on Saturday to try and clear some of the sand, but after 4 hours, and with the sun completely gone, I ran out of time. My initial goal was to break up the sand and let the sun dry it out, but then it became spreading it to the other side of the road (the non-racing side) so that it could dry overnight.

Unfortunately in the dark I didn't see how much mud there was, and that's the stuff that froze to the ground. We spend two hours with a couple leaf blowers, a power broom, and regular brooms, and until the temperatures climbed into the low 30s it was fine. However the frozen sand got a bit loose towards the end of the day.

On the other hand the very rough patch jobs I did last year seem to be holding up well. The patches feel solid and pretty smooth, much better than when I first put them down.

One unexpected problem was that when I headed down to the course on Saturday the thermometer stood at about 58 degrees. I dressed appropriately in relatively light clothing, leaving off my heavy coat, any heavy sweatshirt hoodies, and only packing some warm pants because it was easier to put it away in my bag than in the closet.

This resulted in me being dressed for 58 degree temperatures in the 20-odd degree morning. I don't think I warmed up completely until I took a hot shower Sunday night. I'll have to remember to bring "everything" next week, regardless of the current conditions. I bring everything in terms of racing kit, it should be the same for my street clothing.


With the strongest winds of the Series thus far I was really glad we had the trailer for registration. We ran out of propane for the little heaters and I hadn't gotten any "weatherproofing" done with the windows, but it was better than sitting on the pavement under a tent with the tent sides threatening to blow the whole thing to the other side of town.

The finish line tent was a different story - it was really gusty, they had no sides, so it was brutal out there. My goal to make a platform for the officials has transformed into making wind barriers for them. I'm not sure how to do it yet but that's on my agenda.

Race Logistics

One thing that has been a solid anchor for me has been the crew working the race this year. With a lot of changes to the staff (one family dropped out due to the demanding schedule, another dropped in), I was a bit worried going into the Series. However the staff has been exemplary, to the point that the actual race logistics have been the least of my concerns.

It used to be that I worried about registration, I worried about incorrect info, incomplete registration lists, racers racing without a license or signed waiver, but now I know that stuff gets handled properly. Questions come to me, of course, but it's usually stuff like  me promising a Cat 5 to get him in the race just as I fall asleep on the computer. This results in no entry for said Cat 5, as was the case Sunday, but with plenty of open spots it was fine.

Overall though I consider registration to be a mature and fluent process. It's no longer something I worry about each week because the combination of the spreadsheets, the pre-race prep, and the staff's knowledge make the process self-managing.

Another issue in the past has been the camera. I worry about the finish line footage because it's a one time thing. The camera person has just one chance to get it right and if it screws up then I hear from the whole field of racers. Although rare, any camera errors really weigh heavily on me. I realized the hard way that if I let the battery die in the camera then it reverts to default settings, one that auto adjusts shutter speed. We use 1/10,000 shutter speed so if it auto adjusts it blurs all the numbers.

This year, with the extremely detailed documentation provided by the last year's camera guy, things have gone 100% smoothly. In fact during the first week the camera guy Mike mentioned to me something about the screen saver lock on the laptop. I panicked and asked him if he got locked out and he nonchalantly replied that he just entered the password and got in.

Puzzled I asked him how he knew my screensaver password.

"It's in the documentation."


This year there have been no errors with the camera - the numbers, when legible, show up properly. We get the occasional obscured or illegible number but we rely on the racers to protest if it's their number. However such instances are due to non-camera things.

On the other hand I'd like to have two cameras going for each finish so that we can reduce the number of missed/illegible numbers. Either that or get the camera up higher to get a different angle on the line.


During one of the colder bits of the day (meaning I was particularly cold) I had this realization that I really need to work on the trailer during the week. We had a lot of stuff in there that we didn't need, I didn't have any organized way of storing things, and it really reduced the efficiency of setting up and breaking down on race day. It also made the trailer colder than necessary.

I listed goals last week but all that got throw out because of the course conditions - that took precedence over the trailer things.

I decided that I had to drive the trailer back home and work on it here. Since I'm 90 minutes away from the course I don't have time to head down, work on the trailer (after unloading it), and getting back at a reasonable time (after loading it up).

Also many of my tools are here at the house. I don't know what I'll get done this week but the first thing will be to jettison some of the extra stuff, to organize some of the random bins, and then to try and do some build up work inside (shelves, tables).

Part of this will be to try and build up the stuff for the finish line tent, camera stuff, wind breaks, tent stabilizing stuff, etc.

Finally I want to try and think of standard spots for the leaf blowers and other "standard" equipment that I expect to bring to every race. Once these get their "spots" then it'll be much more straight forward to pack and unpack the trailer.

On the way back I had my first trailer scare, when a particularly strong gust pushed the trailer right at the exact time an 18 wheeler was passing to the left. The trailer pulled the Expedition to the left pretty hard, hard enough that the 18 wheeler swerved away from me and the traffic behind me slowed hard. It took me a bit of time to get calm again but I otherwise felt okay. I made it back without hitting anything, not even a curb.

I forgot to mention this last week but I discovered, to my dismay, that the hatch on the Expedition won't open all the way because it hits the trailer's V-nose. However, once we jacked up and stabilized the trailer, the hatch opened all the way.

We just forgot to close the hatch before dropping the trailer back onto the hitch. We puzzled why the trailer wouldn't drop onto the ball but it finally did. At some point I reached up to close the hatch, wondering why it was so high, and then I realized - the hatch had been holding up the trailer, and only when both the trailer and hatch bent (yes bent!) did the trailer drop. I had to detach the trailer, jack it up, close the hatch, and lower it again. I suppose the good thing is that I've now broken in the trailer officially.

The Expedition also.


The unusual demands of the race this week meant that I spent a lot of time and energy dealing with specific tenant complaints. I felt enough discomfort that I gave the town a heads up about the complaints.

I implied in the last promoting post that this has been a particularly trying Spring Series, and that I don't see the Series continuing on this venue in this fashion. Although I stand by that thought I've been asked to pause and wait until the Series finishes up before I make any decisions. That makes sense and it's what I'll do.

In the meantime I will work on improving our processes and procedures. Not doing that would be giving up altogether and that's not in the works for now. For actual race logistics that means the trailer, improvements to the finish line set up, and trying to upload the results quicker. For the race itself it means better course control, more organization on my part in terms of marshals and signage, and having a cleaner, clearer course.

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