Race Promoter Freakout Time
About a month ago Linnea and I started kicking around the idea of trying to host a cross race somewhere around Boston in December. I figured, keep it simple, keep it cheap, make it CLOSE to Boston and you're guaranteed a big enough turnout to cover your expenses. Simple, cheap, close. Only one problem -- where the heck are you gonna do it?
There's plenty of parks "inside the 95 ring" that would be great. Of course, how many of them could we get access to? Running a race in a public park requires talking to the authorities. I hate talking to the authorities -- so much that I let my car registration expire... three months ago. Trying to scrape up a venue on short notice seemed like too much hassle, too many phone calls trying to explain what cross was, too many conversations where I'd have to avoid mentioning that a cross race on a rainy day is going to make your park look like hell for a few months.
Then I made the brilliant decision to ask retired-from-cross Thom if he had any leads on a venue around here, after all, the guy's been living here his half his life and probably been chased off every piece of property in Wellesley. If that doesn't develop "rapport" with local landowners, what does?
Strangely enough, he DID have a venue idea. His grandmother's farm. I was skeptical, because the average septuagenarian is more interested in keeping kids off their lawn than inviting bike racers on. But he was right -- her exact quote was "anything that breathes life into this place is fine by me."
So here we are. Once we had a venue*, there was no reversing course, you can't leave someone's grandmother hanging after you beg to tear up her farm, you know? Luckily at this point Thom was at least as amped up as we were, so it all came together in a frantic week. Rob and Todd from MRC gave me the lowdown on Portajohns, and sneaking the forms past USA Cycling. International Bikes gave us the green light to start putting stuff on the shop's credit card. JD Bilodeau hooked me up with 500 step ins (no stake-pounding for this guy!), course tape and numbers. Just like that, it's on, for reals.
That's when things started getting out of control. We'd done the bare minimum and I was ready to run a simple race, get people out here and have some fun. But Thom's crazy, and he knows a lot of people in the bike industry, and he works in a bike shop in November. Do you know how little there is to do in a bike shop in November? It leaves you with plenty of time to turn Colin's simple little race into a monstrous production.
It started when we were talking about pits. Diane wanted to know how many pits we were going to have, I checked with Thom to make sure we could run a double pit somewhere, and he said something like "yeah we can run a double pit, it will be good for the Mavic guys anyway." Excuse me? We now have neutral support.
Then we had a discussion about the location, gee, can we really do parking in this area, can we do a kids course here? Nope, can't park here, turns out this is going to be the area for the vendors. We have vendors now?! Cupcakes, organic food, a popcorn vendor??
This week I get another email from crazy co-promoter-guy, we were scoping out the sheltered areas to try to figure out where we could do registration last I knew. But it turns out registration has moved inside a heated garage and the sheltered barn area is going to be a "trainer dance party." Because Saris is bringing us 10 trainers. Thom knows a guy.
Today's email? For some reason some "Mark" guy isn't going to Nats and lives just down the street, so he's going to show up. Everything I said about the 1/2/3 race not being fast -- that was a lie.
At this point, I'm just waiting for Thom to tell me that we have been approved for UCI C1 status and that Sven is waiting on the start contract to book a flight.
Trainers. Vendors. Propane heaters. Neutral support. 500 step ins, 12 rolls of course tape, freshly painted barriers. A new field (Cat 4 women). This is so much bigger than I was dreaming about. This shit is legit.
Dear god. What if we screw it up? What if our course is too short? What if it's too flat? What if no one shows up? What if everyone shows up? What if it snows? What's if it's really cold?? What if we lose all of IBC's money? What if someone gets hurt?
I might not sleep for the next seven days. Want to help? Go preregister, so I at least know how crazy -- or not crazy -- this is going to be.
* - Did you know that consuming beverages of any kind is completely legal because we're on private property? Unless the officials see you, that is. A handup is a handup, regardless of its benefit to the racer!