This year's Ice Weasels was, like every year, a new level of insanity. This time around we bought a flyover, cut a woods trail, and dropped USAC sanctioning.
Each of these things ended up being a ton of work. The flyover, especially, was an epic boondoggle that we are still trying to figure out the cost of. The only thing I'm sure of, so far, is that the prices the Goguens had been charging us to build the flyover each year were a STEAL. This year's flyover is looking like it will end up costing nearly 3x what a Goguen-flyover costs, so even if we set it up for free for 2 more years (which we won't), we still don't break even until IWC 2014.
That being said, it was a totally baller flyover and I'm ecstatic with how smoothly/safely it rode!
Between the flyover and the woods trail, we spent an entire extra day building the course over years past. By Friday evening, my frail programmer body had been SHATTERED by two straight days of manual labor, and the actual race day hadn't even arrived yet!
|Screaming as loud as you can is sooooo 2008. Sweet megaphone hookup from Matt Pierson and MRC! [ Russ Campbell ]|
The only thing I learned for sure during this process is that JD Bilodeau is a freaking cyborg for functioning flawlessly through the four days of CSI. By Sunday morning, if you had told me I had to get up and put on day two of a UCI race, I would have laughed in your face, kicked you in the nuts, and gone back to bed.
Oh and then there was the whole sanctioning thing.
I do not have any beef with USA Cycling.
Well, ok, so their website does seem to rip off more and more of my intellectual property each year, so maybe I do have a little bit of beef, but it's directed at the kind of people at the top who make those decisions, not your local, friendly USAC officials.
The bottom line is that Ice Weasels has turned into a rowdy end-of-season party, and while I think that's awesome, I don't think it's appropriate to ask USA Cycling to sanction or endorse such an event. For better or worse, they're THE MAN, and THE MAN only sees the world through the lens of insurance policies and rules. Asking them to put their insurance policy on my event, but not give them the control to actually manage the risk they're undertaking -- yeah, that's not gonna fly.
So our choice was to either assume the risk ourselves, or scale back the madness to something that fit within the definition of a "normal" cx race that USAC would endorse.
We went with the former.
Beyond insurance, the other highly underrated thing that USAC provides is officiating -- sanctioning your event with USA Cycling means you get three or four officials who can run a race, regulate a race, and score a race, all for a VERY LOW PRICE. We didn't want our officials to regulate the race, but I sure could use someone SCORING the race, you know? Who's gonna sit at a lonely table in a field for five hours, logging an increasingly-drunk stream of riders, answering their idiotic inquiries, producing nicely formatted results on time? All my friends just wanna party, you know?
This is where my lovely girlfriend became the secret 4th promoter, because she is actually professional doing-stuff-with-numbers-and-Excel person in her day job, and is willing to skip the best party in NECX to help me maintain my sanity.
I found a little program called CrossMgr on the web, which is basically some dude in Ontario's nerdcore project to create the ultimate cross race scoring application. (It's like crossresults, but for timing! And maybe even nerdier!) It's 2012, why are we writing numbers down on paper when we score cross races, again?
So Christin spent her entire day in a field typing numbers into a computer and then wrangling the spreadsheets that came out of it. At first, I thought this was going to be an error-prone and tedious task that would require two, if not more, people, but by the start of the second race it was clear that my presence was mainly for show.
The only thing I really contributed was lap-count-math, and (just ask the Elite Women) I wasn't actually that good at it.
In any case, SOMEHOW, we produced weasel-quality results (note I did not say "perfect") using a program that we had never used before, and it went so smoothly that I managed to sneak away and race my bike in the middle of the day.
|Totally overlooking a dollar on the barriers here. Not pro. [Russ Campbell]|
The race, of course, went horribly, but I screamed about PROMOTERLEGS, hopped stuff, cursed out anyone who was trying too hard, and generally had fun. With one and a half laps to go I realized I could sit up and get lapped by Curtis White, which gave me an extra eight minutes of promotin' time over doing another lap. So I took it.
My "race report" is the video at the top.
One misconception a lot of people have about our venue, I think, is that we're free to destroy it, because "it's just a farm."
We learned this year that that is not the truth.
Keep in mind that this "just a farm" also hosts things like WEDDINGS sometimes. That lawn we turned into a rutted bog? That's a WEDDING-QUALITY LAWN, dude.
And even if it didn't, that's someone's LAWN. As in, "the thing outside their front door." It's actually more personal that a city park, you know? Someone has to look at that mess for the entire snowless period we used to call "winter."
Without getting into the details (mainly because I don't know them), let's just say that the future of Ice Weasels hung much more delicately in the balance this year than last year, and last year wasn't great either. The fact that I can say right now that "Ice Weasels will probably return" is due entirely to Thom's ability to smooth things over with a fairly unimpressed landowner, and the relative coolness of the farmers who work said land.
In short, we really got away with something this year, and if it rains like that in the future, we're gonna have to make some changes.
All that aside, this was one of my favorite Ice Weasels ever. We had the best iteration of the course yet, we had all kinds of people come out of the woodwork to help (I'd mention names but that would only lead to me forgetting some), we had the craziest conditions, and pulled it off so smoothly that the only people who knew how much duct tape the whole operation was held together with was us.
Oh, and we were the first cyclocross race in NECX HISTORY to be 100% sold-out (thank god for Gloucester's UCI fields!).
Oh, and I'm 95% sure that when we finish paying the landscaping bills, we still didn't lose money.
|If it wasn't for the feeds on the barriers, this could be a shot from the USGP.|