Sunday, 21 December 2008

Get Off Your Ass (and Get Offa My Lawn)

I figured it would be appropriate to accompany this post with a picture of some asses much faster than my own. Thanks, guys. Great day.

A lot of people are going to be offended by this post. Some deserve to be. A lot are going to think I'm a self righteous twat, which to some degree I am, but I'll ask you to consider that I direct this at myself as well. The people to whom this is primarily directed are, I presume, a small minority. It would be great if it became smaller.

There was recently a dialog on GamJams about the MABRA BAR competition. The soon-to-be-ex-BAR Coordinator, Bill Luecke, was good enough to join the conversation and offer his sincere thoughts on the question, as well as a misplaced mea culpa for the administration of the competition not being as good as it could or "should" be. I'm fortunate enough to know Bill, as many of you are I'm sure. Warm and cuddly aren't exactly the first adjectives you'd use to describe him, but earnest, thoughtful, hard working and responsible certainly are. A lot of things that you enjoy wouldn't be there without Bill and others like him, and for Bill to leave the volunteer position thinking that he'd somehow failed us by only performing this function for longer than most of us will be racing bikes is absurd. Thank you, Bill.

One of the enlightening points in Bill's comments was the revelation that there fundamentally were no local races for DC cyclists as recently as 15 or 16 years ago. You wanted to race, you had to drive - far. Bill and many others like him toiled to create the races that we think of now as the monuments of the MABRA calendar. A calendar which is now complete enough that, were you to try and develop a new race, you'd struggle to find an open date on which to run it. These things don't just drop out of the sky. It costs a lot of people a huge pain in the ass to create things where before there were none. The realities of living in a particularly populous part of the megalopolis that is the eastern seaboard compound these difficulties. My attempts to develop a new race in the boonies, with the tailwind of friendly local jurisdictional powers that be put this last point into stunning relief. It's a ton of work under good circumstances.

Throughout the years of these people doing what they did, self interest inspired self action. I'd like to punch that Tony Robbins guy in the face (apart from the pretty funny cameo he had in Shallow Hal), but he preaches a universal truth that the generation that created the MABRA BAR knew without dropping three large on some seminar: "if it's to be, it's up to me." You want shit to happen, you gotta make shit happen.

The calendar, as I said, is pretty full. Some great events like the GP of Silver Spring and others have gone by the wayside, victims of various circumstances often led by but certainly not limited to venue issues. Tradezone was severely jeopardized by a bunch of racers being asshats and creating issues with an owner of one of the businesses in the park, whose parking lot a responsible and courteous racer had unknowingly parked in against the owner's wish. The parker was apologetic to the business owner and tried to do his best to minimize his unintended error, but some others thought it was time the business owner knew exactly what he could do with the horse he rode in on. I wonder what situation they thought they were making better by yelling at someone whose cooperation allows us to race where he has his business? It's one thing to unknowingly park where you shouldn't, what happened after was just monstrously uncalled for. Let's keep it up and we can all drive a couple of hours to do all of our racing!

A couple of months ago, when I first got involved in the concept of developing and promoting a new race, I asked what people thought about it. Most people who commented, as I expected, were either pretty enthusiastic about the idea or offered constructive thoughts on it. One guy felt his role was to ask why promoters "always make us drive to go race on hills. Why doesn't someone just run a race using Angler's Hill and Brickyard?" However long ago that comment came in, it still pisses me off. First, someone already, probably long before you ever pinned on a number, improved a situation that had previously "made" everyone drive a couple of hours to race even in the most anonymous of office park crits. Second, no one's "making" you do shit. You want to race, fine, but it's your choice. Third, you've clearly never created a thing if you think your cute little "just" has anything to do with developing a race. We can start by asking you to "just" pull your head out of your ass.

Try removing the word "should" from your life for a week, except in reference to your own life - i.e, "I should go to the grocery store this afternoon." Don't put your shoulds on anyone's shoulders but your own. Second, replace every "somebody" in your vocabulary with "I" for a month. For example, "why don't I just run a race using Anler's Hill and Brickyard?" See what a huge difference that makes?

A lot of people are willing to act like the King of $30 with their entry fees and bullshit about entry fees being too high and races not being run every where and when they want them to be. True, if everybody took their $30 entry fee with them and went home, there would be no races. That just means that no one would have to put in countless of hours sweating the simplest of details so that you could show up and be an asshole. The most poorly run race that that's ever been probably cost the owner a bigger time investment on your behalf than most of us will ever extend.

So as we approach the time of New Years resolutions, I've got a two easy suggestions:
1. Say "please" and "thank you" to everyone who helps to put on every race you go to.
2. Figure out what you can do to make running races easier for the promoters, officials and volunteers. If these means not pissing on neighborhood lawns or parking illegally, so be it. If it means raising your hand to help or make something happen, even better. We really should be able to take the first two for granted by now. Don't bitch if Tracy isn't able to process your upgrade in 17.83 hours, don't bitch if the new BAR administrator doesn't have the process working perfectly by the time the first field leaves the start line at Jeff Cup, don't bitch if the registration line backs up and it takes you 10 minutes to pick up your number, just don't bitch. Don't.

If you've read to this point, yes I do feel a little better with that off my chest, and I will let you in on a little inside joke. Some of my team mates think I might be turning into Homer Simpson's dad, with a little piece of his mind and a bit of whatfer for all and sundry. I might be. So get offa my lawn, wouldja?


Chris said...

It is an uphill battle setting up and maintaining a race course with the many variables...even if it is as flat as pee wees chest.(good analogy,maybe not provocative?) Handling behavior of entrants and so on can be done in two ways.. sometimes u gotta put your foot down and sometimes you gotta put your foot up. I love that phrase and I really just wanted to get it in one more time 4 end of 2008. Cheers and Merry christmas 2 all.

John(ny) said...

Yeah that's why I quit racing 18 years ago, what with all of the gratitude spread amongst the vocal minority of primadonnas who don't seem to realize it's not reaaaallly all about them.

After a 13 year break, I realized that I may have been part of the problem in innocuous ways that being young and stupid don't let one see. Or not--I don't know, I just make sure I put in a good word with the people at the registration tables and with the cops and EMS crews that get to spend their (paid) weekends watching us ride around in circles.

Well said, and good luck with your race promotion.

Kyle Jones said...

Saying a simple thank you goes a long way. I have gone up to police and shop keepers at certain venues and told them thanks for either having us race in their location or the time they have given. I told Joe Jefferson a big thanks for putting on Wash County last year and he told me to tell that to Washington county so we can have them sponsor the race for years to come.

As for bitching. I do not know if I can not stop doing that. I just have to post that before Jim posts something about me not being able to do that.

And thank you for your work with trying to put on a race. Even though you are having it with some climbs ;-)