Monday, August 11, 2008

Thanks to All!!

First things first:

Thanks to all who made the drive to Lake Ahquabi State Park south of Indianola. It was nice to see new faces and faces of racers that we don't normally see at all of the IMBCS races in Iowa. Having enjoyed racing in events put on by many others in the IMBCS for the past 3 seasons I felt it was my turn to give something back and host an event. Now I know what it is you all go through to get an event up and running and my respect has grown for those who host.

In my energy drained state of mind and body after the race, I forgot to mention a couple of people yesterday during the awards ceremony. MOB Racing associated folks, namely. Christy Varnum and Travis Jass did a great job of dealing with my Word Document home-made timing sheets, cork board/thumb tack results board, Wal-Mart special stop watches and getting all of the data entered as each racer buzzed between the trees, around the beach shelter and off into the woods. Thanks Christy and Travis for your excellent work at the timing table. My bad for not mentioning you yesterday. I apologize.

Nick Woolley of MOB Racing came down on Saturday to spend a few hours doing final trail grooming and course marking with my son and I along with a college student of mine named Erik Lickiss. Thanks Nick for driving down from Webster City to use a rake, a hoe, a staple gun and help with the final grooming. And thank you Erik for helping us out on the trail and holding cars in the parking lot during the race as racers came screaming down the old paved road to the finish line.

I neglected to take any photographs for this Blog as I was milling around. Again, my bad as I found it hard to do everything. I should have assigned that task to one of the volunteers. I think the photographer from the Indianola Record Herald will have some shots available to all eventually. You saw him out on the course in a couple of locations shooting us. How many of us had our tongues hanging out at the top of the train track tie climb where he was positioned during one lap?

Reflections...

Here I sit the day after my first attempt at hosting a mountain bike race feeling totally spent from the energy required during the final week to bring everything to fruition. I haven't hiked that much in years as I made my way around the course day after day clearing brush, raking, trimming branches, marking the course and double checking everything. I learned a lot in the process, but my main goals for the event were to provide a fast and fun race venue that was a little different in our series to add some variety and to develop a good relationship with the park manager to make sure I did everything correctly the first time around in case of hosting future events at Lake Ahquabi. Hopefully, both goals were met.

Paul and Christy Varnum, Chris Hansen, my wife and I spent a few hours taking down all the course marking stakes, signs, tape and packing up all of the food and equipment after the awards ceremony. Thank you Paul, Christy and Chris.

I spent Monday riding the course and making sure that all markings and all orange arrows were removed from the grass and gravel. The chalk marks on the pavement will wash away with a rain or two. Outside of the slight trail mark we wore into the grass sections we had to cross, there is literally no trace that we were ever there. That's good in terms of holding future events at Lake Ahquabi. The entire trail was so littered with limbs, branches, fallen trees, honeysuckle, twigs, big chunks of mud, etc... that 2 months ago I didn't see how I was going to be able to get it in shape. Raking my yard will now seem like a breeze after doing 6.75 miles of trail a few times this summer. ;-) I will mention that the section after the train track tie climb was filled with logs crossing the trail that had been there for at least a couple of years as those trails are no longer maintained by the DNR. I really was planning on them being a part of the race, but I think the DNR felt it was better to remove them from the trail for maintenance and liability reasons. Oh well, it made that section even faster and the climbs and descents were hard enough without them being filled with logs.

I learned a lot by hosting an event for my firs time. In an effort to improve, I would welcome any comments and criticism or opinions on how to make it better for next year. While the race is still fresh in your minds, please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts on what you liked or disliked or offer any suggestions on improvement for next time around. I would appreciate that as I am still learning.

Thanks again to all the racers and all of my volunteers for a successful MOB the Quab!

Time to catch up on some sleep and recovery.

Bruce Brown

5 comments:

Paul Varnum said...

Great event Bruce! I'll bet you are glad you decided to race.

On the way home the only thing I could think of was 1) More flags, and less stakes. You really only needed the stakes when you needed somewhere to place tape. In most cases flags would do. 2) Some type of chicane right before the start finish to slow racers down to make scoring a little easier in the early laps.

MG said...

Thank you Bruce! You and the MOB crew really took great care of us racers. I was glad I drove over from Lincoln to participate. What else was I going to do?!! (the answer - ride my bike of course, so this worked out swell!)

The course you set up for us was fast and fun, and the length worked out well. I think Paul's feedback on the course marking is well said, and hey, you learn something with every race you put on. You clearly have taken the lessons you've learned from having participated in dozens, perhaps hundreds of events yourself, and seeing how great promoters do it, and distilling it all down into your own brand of intoxicating brew you call Mob the Quab. It's something you can call your own, and I for one like it a lot.

Thanks again Bruce, to you and everyone involved. You did great work and I feel fortunate to have participated in the first running of such a fun event.

Cheers,
MG

Bruce Brown said...

Thanks guys. Great suggestions and so true.

I was glad I raced, but was running on fumes by the end due to all the course marking and raking the three days prior. I hadn't hiked that much in years. I was not hyrdrated, lower back hurt, elbow and right hand was numb from pounding stakes, blister on foot and blah, blah, blah...

In spite of that, I had done plenty of pre-rides of the course to predict I could turn a 32 - 34 minute lap at race speed. Sure enough, my lap average was 32.5 minutes.

Now that I own all those stakes and have painted the tops orange - I guess I can use them again, but will restrict their use to corners and crossings where some barrier tape are needed. An orange flag reads the same and are much easier to stick in the ground and remove after the race, that's for dang sure.

I swapped to stakes because I bought the entire supply of flags from the 2 stores in Indianola that had some (not many were in supply in little old Indianola). I just didn't have time to run up to Des Moines and grabbed what I could from the hardware store to finish things up on Friday/Saturday. After pounding in the first 50 in the dry hard clay ground, I was cursing at myself for the decision!

All of the grass areas were not in my original course route submission to the DNR so I wasn't even thinking about having to have so many flags or stakes. Otherwise, I could easily have ordered a supply of orange flags from Rainbow Racing when I ordered the signs. We wore in such a nice track in the grass I might just keep riding it this summer and fall to turn it into official singletrack requiring no markers next year. '-]

Then again, next year's route should be different to keep things mixed up and fresh. I'm hoping my favorite 2 miles in the deep backwoods filled with twisty turns climbs and descents is open again by next season. It was just too damaged to even get through their without many hours of work to repair the trail enough that a bike could get through it. I've hiked it a few times this year just shaking my head wondering what it would take to repair the damage. It wouldn't surprise me if the DNR goes in there with something to level it, widen it and make it not as fun as it was before the rains and flooding hit. But hats off to the DNR for doing some trail maintenance, mowing, chainsawing and trimming so the event could go on. I am sending a thank you card today to them.

I will absolutely configure the start/finish area to include something to slow racers down at the line to allow for easier scoring. Too bad that ankle band electronic timing costs so dang much for races. If we had 100+ racers, the cost is justified and pays for itself, but it is simply not practical for smaller races. In fact, I couldn't even get a quote from the outfit in Iowa that does Sugarbottom and the I-74 series. I sent them several emails with details, mileage for them to get to Lake Ahquabi and said the number of racers would be 40 - 60. Nobody ever responded in spite of several request forms I filled out at their website and submitted over the months leading up to the race. Hmmmm.... Probably best though as our numbers were small enough to use the old fashioned method.

I learned a lot and will use everyone's feedback for making next year more efficient.

Length of course okay? Times were pretty equal to traditional XC races in the IMBCS even though we did a lot more distance in this one. The course could be set up with less climbing and more distance, or more climbs and less distance, etc... .

Steve Fuller said...

Bruce,

Great job to you and your crew on your first event. I personally loved the layout and the flow of most of the course. My one comment (since you asked for them):

I am glad that you are going to move the S/F line. I would say that right between the trees where you had the tape would be a good spot, and easier to sprint for when the times are close like they were for taylor and I at the end. I actually held up a bit at the finish due to my wreck on the same corner on lap 1. I wanted to beat Taylor, but not at the expense of taking both of us out.

Bruce Brown said...

Steve - point taken about the finish line. Sorry you bit the dust on lap one going through the finish line.