Promoting a race is one of the hugest piles of work you can ever wander into. It's not hard to get any one of the millions things you have to do right. It is hard to get every single thing right. When people complain about races, or promoters, and other people jump on them for not promoting anything themselves, I can see why now. When you give up days, if not weeks of your life to make a bike race happen -- for free -- you don't take criticism very well.
But you know what? Screw that. No one's work should be above a fair critique, not when it's experienced by hundreds of racers. That's part of why it's so stressful, because if you screw it, you're going to let a lot of people down.
So if you thought any part of "my" race could have been better, feel free to let me know. And if you're thinking of promoting your own race sometime -- try to guess how much work it will take, and then triple that number.
The upside, of course, of running a race is a kickass sense of ownership, so when you see people taking waffle feeds, drinking beers, and screaming at racers, you can honestly think to yourself "I helped make this happen."
It makes you look like this:
I will try to formalize what I've learned about running a race in a future post. If I had to summarize, though, I would say: Get Thom P to help you. Do this and everything else will work out.
Here is a brief list of things that made me happy on Saturday:
1) We had 17 Cat 4 women racing in 25 degree weather at 9:15 AM, including two girls who apparently decided to do this at the last minute and now want to do more cross.
2) We had 18 Singlespeeders including 3 women and framebuilding legend Chris Igleheart, who hadn't raced "since 1984." He also had a sweet bail trying to ride the mini barriers.
3) Meg probably wasn't the first person ever to pregame for a cross race, but it the first time I've seen it.
4) Dave Wilcox led the Elite Men's race for the first three laps, ahead of Alec-freaking-Donahue, while wearing a skinsuit with a shark fin.
5) There were at least 40 people spectating during the elite men's race, drinking beer, giving malt liquor feeds, giving waffle feeds, and generally creating one of the best atmospheres this side of a Verge race I've ever experienced.
6) I unwittingly built the official "get-gapped-by-Mike-Patrick" course feature -- a single barrier into a shallow, rough frozen run up. I came into this section, he rode the goddamn barrier while I dismounted and ran awkwardly up the hill. It took me the rest of the lap to close this gap down, which brought us back to, you guessed it, the same single-barrier hill again, which he rode again and gapped me again. After this happened for a third time I was unable to chase back on. I love it.
7) Matt cracked really badly at the end of the race and I caught him. I convinced him to do a beer feed with me, unfortunately the previously ubiquitous beer handup was nowhere to be found. Lots of yelling on our part got Rosey to bring a single cup of beer to the runup for us to fight for. The second Matt saw the single cup he put in a huge sprint while running and beat me to it handily, only to stop completely to drink it. I convinced him to give me a small part of it.
8) Long after the course had been set, I counted how many 180 degree turns the course took in the "house section" and came up with 22. We made a course with 22 freaking turns! That's one more than L'Alpe D'Huez. The awesome thing is, anyone who saw the venue knows how little space we had to work with, and how necessary that was. Sorry about that, long-wheelbase guys.
9) Dave Foley showed up with short shorts and a 56T ring on his singlespeed. Words fail me; just click that link.
10) With 2 minutes to start I realized I was wearing my long underwear over my bike shorts, under my windpants and I was going to have to take off my shoes and booties to remedy this. I managed to get all off, got my shoes back on, and jumped the tape to line up dead last, with no warmup, right as we got the 15 second warning. This allowed me to heckle 2/3rds of the field as I gradually moved up to 7th place over the course of the race. Actually making it to your race is a common promoter problem -- apparently Linnea didn't even know her field was going at noon until 11:45.
11) My idea to run the course through the mulch-covered garden (twice!) worked out really well, it didn't pack down and become boring, it rutted up and became difficult.
12) Mike Rowell pushed a supa huge gear in the singlespeed race because he took Thom P's gearing advice, which applies more to Verge 2/3 races and less to crazy-tight farm races. He pulled off third anyway, then grabbed his geared bike and crushed me -- and a lot of other folks -- with a 5th in the elite race.
In case you can't tell, I had a ton of fun. Next year, I want someone else do the actual work so I can just hang out and enjoy it.
In addition to all the volunteers from IBC who helped out, and all the individuals who helped out or just showed up and partied -- we were helped greatly by HUP United, Minuteman Road Club and Cambridge Bikes making a strong showing and sticking around to the very end.
It's funny how you do tons and tons of work trying to insure that your event will be a success -- and yet 90% of what defines success comes down to getting the fun people to show up. We could have done a million things wrong, but if you get beer and waffles and screaming to happen -- all your shortcomings will be forgiven.
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