In 2009 I wrote about how I thought the second year would be easier but it wasn't.
In 2010, we added a flyover, I lost the numbers, it got bigger, and it was even more work.
In 2011 we built a bunch of new sections and I was so exhausted it "almost wasn't worth lining up."
In 2012 we bought a flyover, spent a whole day cutting a new trail, and dropped USAC sanctioning. I was so tired I got lapped in the race.
In 2013, we LOST THE VENUE 3 weeks before the race and basically all of New England helped me put a race together. I was so cracked by race day, I didn't even race.
If programmers are good at pattern recognition, then how come I didn't see 2014 coming?
We set a new bar for insanity that I hope I will finally fail to clear in 2015: with less than 48 hours until the start of the event, we lost the venue.
A midweek nor'easter blasted Boston with buckets of rain, and the North Shore even more, and at the epicenter of the North Shore rainfall was Rowley, Massachusetts, where our race was supposed to be.
|That pink spot north of Boston is my venue.|
Still though, the race was on a hill. I knew it was going to be wet, but I thought we had some options. The landowner called me and said it was a mess. "We'll figure something out when I get there Thursday" was the plan.
|This pond near the top of the hill was so full it was actively overflowing down the hillside, 36 hours after the rain stopped.|
When I got there, the "plan" turned into "let's talk about canceling the race." The road down to the parking area was completely washed out, I had to park my car at the top of hill. The parking area itself squished audibly as you walked around it. While the landowner didn't tell me I had to cancel, he looked me square in the eye and made it clear that I'd be footing the bill to repair the damage that 400 parked/stuck cars did down there.
We talked about other places to park. There closest place you could put 400 cars was a mile away. For a price. I thought about 500 muddy, shivering cyclists, a mile from their cars.
I told Thom we had to cancel or postpone it.
Thom reminded me he was having a significant surgical operation on Monday, so if we postponed it, I was on my own.
I accepted canceling the race.
Before we gave up and drove home, Thom sent a Facebook message to Chris Nichols, who was "the guy" at Diamond Hill Park in Rhode Island. We'd talked about checking out Diamond Hill as a venue a few months prior, but nothing ever came of it. Since then, we'd established a contact with someone who knew the right people -- Chris.
Chris started making phone calls. Thom and I started driving to Rhode Island. Whatever, it was worth a shot.
We got there at 3pm. Thom had described the place to me as "small and rocky." I wasn't expecting much.
Five minutes into walking around the place I had completely changed my mind. It might have been small, but it was just big enough. I made up a course, rode it, made some tweaks, rode it again. 1.6 miles and totally decent. It was 3:45. Most offices closed in 75 minutes. We started making phone calls.
The insurance company re-wrote our policy for Rhode Island.
The portapotties from Rowley got un-canceled and rerouted to Cumberland.
I started hunting for EMTs in Rhode Island.
I redirected neutral support to the new venue. Thom booked one of our old food trucks (Mijo's tacos) from Providence.
The only problem was that we didn't have permission to use the venue. We had a guy who said "it will probably be fine, go ahead with the race." We sent a proposal to the mayor, but were assured it was a formality.
The response I got from the mayor did NOT sound like it was just a formality. I sent him our insurance policy, changed the race location in BikeReg, emailed 600 preregistrants, and crossed my fingers.
We never did get permission...
But somehow we put on the best fucking race I've ever been involved with.
Everyone who helped us build course Friday, everyone who helped clean up Saturday, everyone who brought me food on Satuday, everyone who dropped whatever they were doing to course marshal, move a timing tent, or do whatever else we needed -- THANK. YOU.
Oh yeah. That timing tent move.
There's always a bit of a learning curve with a new course and a new venue. I spent much of the beginner race running around, adding course crossings as I saw how the traffic flowed around the park, and how many people were ducking tape to get to various places. I got back to the timing tent just in time to help Christin score the last lap.
It was the worst job we've ever done scoring. Between the speed of riders crossing the line, the bend in the course, and the fact that venue layout made it really easy to preride THROUGH the finish line, we had more missed reads and false reads than the past two Ice Weasels combined. It was BAD.
We put the next race on hold, grabbed four people, and started relocating the finish line.
Five minutes later, we realized the new location had no way to stake the tent. A light breeze threatened to blow the tent away immediately. We started ripping the walls off it. The sun streamed in, and now we couldn't see the screen. The whole time, there's a horde of Killer B masters just waiting for their delayed race to start. I have never felt such an acute, terrifying pressure in my life.
Thank god for Christin, who took the whole thing in stride and jumped right into scoring the next race on a screen she could barely see, with me holding the tent down every time the wind blew.
That was the only moment I thought the whole house of cards might come crumbling down. When the beginner results turned out to be mostly right (thank god for CrossMgr), I started breathing again, and the rest of the day was AWESOME.
All the following pictures are by Meg McMahon, official event photographer. Thanks for reading.
|Adam St. Germain drove 4 hours to win a hard-fought men's race.|
|Seriously, this was the best Ice Weasels race to watch yet. Jerome led early, flatted, and hit the last lap just five seconds off the leaders. Adam and Joe rode the whole lap flat out to hold Jerome off, with Adam narrowly taking the win.|
|Meanwhile, at the other end of seriousness, Russ Campbell had the most impressive cyclocross costume I've ever seen.|
|No free beer (town park!) meant a lot more food handups. I was okay with that. Here Uri Halevi fails to keep kosher.|
|Mo did what Mo does: crush the women's elite race and then crush the women's (and most of the men's) singlespeed field.|
|Meanwhile, her husband Matt raced his first cx race since 2006 in a Breaking Bad costume, complete with baggies of fake (I think) drugs to throw into the crowd.|
|A common misconception is that Ice Weasels is a party race. There's plenty of people who race first, party second, and that's exactly how I want it to be.|
|Chris Nichols jumped into the men's elite race on a mountain bike, without a number. But he got us the venue so he can do anything he wants!|
|Fat Bike Cyclocross: So wrong it's right.|
|Chris and Paul of ECV have helped us a lot over the years. Paul's punishment for not making this year's race is having to look at this picture of Chris having fun.|
|JRA Cycles sponsored the race and designed the jump. Since they're serious effing bike riders, it was a serious effing jump. Here, shop owner Brian McInnis proves he has less fear than I do.|
|Jump designer and shop employee Will makes getting rad look easy. It wasn't.|
|See what I mean? This is why we have an EMT.|
|The wind was blowing the lap cards around. Dan Walker held them in place for a few laps while I figured out a solution.|
|This year's viral photo: Sean Goguen endo'ing on Dan Barrett's custom "how to hop" barriers. Kid shoulda read the instructions.|