Monday, June 28, 2010

Smithfield HAMmer Fest 2-Man TTT: The Story From the Promoter

The 3rd and final road event that I am promoting this year is in the books.  The Smithfield HAMmer Fest 2-Man TTT is a fun non-BAR event held in Smithfield, VA during their Olden Days Festival.  Why do I call it a fun race?  There are many people who don't consider it a real race unless BAR points are awarded.  That somehow defines a training race and a real race.  When I came up with the idea of a 2-Man TTT, I wanted it to be non-limiting.  Meaning I didn't want you to have to pick someone from your team, your category or your age bracket.  Making the race a BAR race would require the BAR categories to be followed.  Also, the individuals wouldn't receive points, just the teams.  So we made it simple:  Men's Women's and Coed.

But there is even more than that.  This is a challenging 26.7 mile course (last year it was a 27.7 mile course).  Actually this seems like a good time to tell one of the side stories.

I got word via Facebook that three miles of the course had recently been milled for paving.  This was Monday before the race.  On Tuesday I got another Facebook message telling me the same thing but gave the exact detail of which road.  So Wednesday I went out and sure enough, there was a three mile section covered in sand and gravel.  So I had to divert the course around.  This actually only changed the course by 1-mile.  It was actually a big deal since we offer a sub-1 hour prize of $100.  Last year the fastest time was 1:00:35.  So 1-mile shorter was sure to be broken.

Back to the categories.  Along with competing in the three general categories, your team make up or equipment could put you into contention for other prizes: 
  • We had a 100+ prize that went to the top team whose combined age was 100 years or greater.
  • We had a family prize.  You could compete in this one if your teammate was related through birth or marriage.
  • We had a young rider prize that went to the fastest team whose combined age was 40 or less
  • We had a Merckx prize for those who wanted to compete on road bikes.
  • And we had the sub 1-hour and new course records.
Fun? yes.  Restricted? No.  Still a lot of money to compete for, plus there seemed to be a lot more side bets and smack talk than you would find at regular individual TTs.

So there was no question as to whether I was stressed on the numbers of racers we were going to have.  I know this is not a money making event.  It actually falls on a bad weekend.  The Working Man's Classic is during the week and Reston is on the next day.  So this is the easy race to miss.  We keep it on this weekend because it is part of Smithfield's Olden Days festival which is less then two blocks away from the start.

The Virginia Beach Wheelmen and volunteers from Vanderkitten and friends of ours got out to the course early.  Jenni got registration set and Mike, John and myself hit the course to mark, sweep and put up cones.  We were ready to go.  All marshals had their assignment and were off.

Issue #1:  Prior to the start we were advised there was a big dog on the course near the beginning.  We sent someone out to find it and try to get the owners to take care of it.  On Wednesday I had passed out notification to residents along the  27 mile course.  One thing on the notice was to secure your dogs.  I am thinking that as it got closer to 10am, these owners heeded my request.  We couldn't find the dog and no one saw anything more of it.

Issue #2:  A resident on one of the corners was quite upset.  The corner marshal called me a little scared maybe.  I went out and encountered a completely unreasonable resident.  He did not like cones in the street or the corner marshal in the street.  Basically, we were not disrupting his life in the slightest bit, but he was angry.  In his and he held the notification I had passed out.  He was waiting.  Had I not notified him of the race, he probably would never had known.  He even called the cops on us.  Which helped since we had their permission to be there.  Isle of Wight Sheriff Deputy took care of the problem and the racers never knew about it (until now).  This is not the attitude of the residents of Smithfield though.  Everyone else was excited and asked question and seemed to really enjoy the event.  There always has to be one to take the thrill out of the day.

Issue #3:  A team took a wrong turn.  Cones, arrows, and marshals were placed on all corners.  Some marshals rushed to their turns, others knew they had 30-40 minutes until riders would even reach them.  This course only had two small sections in which riders would be on the same road in opposite directions.  The right hand turn that put riders back on the road had cones set for the right hand turn.  Well coming from the other direction, it apparently looked like you should make a left hand turn there.  Even though there was an arrow pointing straight, the cones were the most obvious.  Because that was straight in one direction and a turn to get back on the road many miles later, the corner marshal was not set up properly yet.  He was not expecting someone to turn there.  He saw him turn but could not stop him.  Essentially that team road the back half of the course backwards.  We stopped them and told them to continue on but they were obviously DQed.  I felt bad and and marshal felt bad.  But like all TTs the course description is sent out to all racers and it is racer responsibility to know the course.  I'm not saying that I wouldn't have done the same.  I am sure that next year though, there will be all marshals at their corner when the first rider leaves.

Well the hour was broken and new course records were set for all categories.  The winning time was still just 59:15.  Tough course, great scenery and good times.

Thanks to all who came out.  I will post results soon.

Here are some more pictures taken by Kevin Horvath and can be found on his Facebook page.

This is a Coed team.  Ask Gene how a women's Chamios feels.

Thanks to a dedicated volunteer ensuring no one else goes the wrong way.
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