יום שלישי, 4 בנובמבר 2014

178. Organizer's View of the Israeli 1200 km Brevet 2014


This post will give the organizer's view of the Israeli 1200 km brevet of 2014.

A few preliminary words:

The way I see it, randonneuring should be accessible to all.
It should not be an expensive sport. It can be done using cheap equipment, and there's really no need for bling.

This is one of the reasons that our registration and medal costs are low.
This brevet involved several additional costs:
a) Hostel
b) Car to carry drop-bags, and give water and food in the desert sections
c) Food and water

I managed to get sponsorship from the place I work which covered for the car costs, and added a small amount to the hostel costs, so I had enough for food and water.

After organizing brevets for 5 years in a row, including two 1000 km brevets (the 2nd with mostly riders coming to Israel from abroad) I felt I was ready for the Big League and decided to organize a 1200 km brevet.

A few years ago I wasn't sure I'd want to organize a 1200 km brevet, as these get high profile, and many riders from around the world seek them.
But for several reasons, 2014 seemed like a good opportunity to do it.
So here we are...

I used the earlier season brevets to practice electronic brevet cards (scanning QR Codes for online real-time rider followup,) and using Google Forms for the registration.
(Most of these are behind the scenes work...)

It took more than a year between the day this brevet was published, and the start time.
All along this time, I felt that everything is going smoothly.
A few days before the ride the list of riders was finalized.
I sent last minute emails to riders I haven't heard from in a long time.
Some said "yes we're coming," and some said "sorry."

I assigned rider numbers, and divided into rooms at the hostel.

All was ready.

Lev Broitman (the first Isreali to ride PBP, in 1999) said he'd join me in the support car.
I thanked him.

At the pre-ride dinner I performed the bike check and distributed the brevet cards and collected money for the hostel.
I was helped by Dave Minter, who was riding the event. Thank you! :-)

Side Note:
Apparently, 2 riders didn't show (and didn't inform beforehand.) This means loss money for me personally (as the hostel rooms were not refundable at such a short notice.)
Part of being a low cost brevet, I didn't want to take any down payment, or any registration fees.

At 15 minutes before the start all riders put their drop bags in the car, and were ready at the start.
Some friends and family were there to cheer them up.

Side Note:
I had pre-arranged for orange traffic wands, and used them at the start.
I used them again and again in the ride, so the riders had a "home feeling."

They all departed at 22:00:00. :-)
They were led out of the park by the one of the first randonneurs in Israel, and I think the honor was appropriate.

As the riders left, we returned to the restaurant and had our own dinner (we couldn't eat while the riders were there, as we helped them.)

Went home for a little more than an hour, and since I had no volunteer to attend the northern control, I had to drive there.
As we got to the control, we had less than 10 minutes before the head group arrived (good timing! :-) )
I used the orange traffic wands, and I believe the riders appreciated it.
The old wall of Caesarea was lit, and it was nice.

Side Note:
The ride to Caesarea added about 130km to the rental car, which is the same figure of additional miles above the allowance, but they waived it, so I didn't have to pay extra. :-)

Went home to sleep, and in the morning went to hunt some riders...

I wanted to take some pics at Zeelim Ford.
Stopped at Urim (the fuel station before the ford) and couldn't see any riders passing.
So I drove backwards on the course.

Saw the first riders near Ofakim, and stopped to take some pics (Shai, Werner, Andreas, and Thomas, Ben and Sergey.) Also a selfie with the sponsored car and banner.
One of the riders said that he's not the first on the road, but I didn't see anyone, so either the gap was very big, or he didn't notice and in effect, he was first on the road.

After the pic session in Ofakim I went to Zeelim Ford.
As expected, all the riders I saw there enjoyed the experience.
Some were afraid at first, but after crossong - Stopped, went back, and enjoyed the water.

After the pics session in Zeelim Ford, I drove towards the night stop in Sde Boker.

While driving to Sde Boker I got a phone call from Artem (UA) who said he's in Sde Boker.
I pressed the car pedal and drove there fast (not going over the allowed maximum speed... If you believe fairy tales... ;-) )

It seems that the hostel changed our rooms in the last minute, and I didn't inform the riders.
I took (drove before him) Artem to the new location of the rooms, got one room key, and had him rest a little.
Then went back to the office, and took the other room keys.

I taped rider names to the doors, and Lev and me put the drop bags in the respective rooms.
I also put some signs and chalked the road to direct riders to the new location.
When rider arrived I used the traffic wands to guide them from a distance.

Artem said he's leaving (after about 1 hour in Sde Boker) for the 2nd leg to the Dead Sea and Massada.

I stayed in Sde Boker until all riders arrived, and "controlled" them.
One rider decided he wanted a room after all, so I had to get him a room by himself (riders were divided evenly into rooms, without a remainder.)

Side Note
Make sure riders understand that if they don't book in advance, they might be left without a room.

Then I left to give Artem water as he climbed back from the Dead Sea.
Lev stayed in Sde Boker in case any rider needed any help.
I arrived at the location I told him, stashed water for the him and the other riders, put our sign ( #IL12CK ) and waited for him.
He arrived after about 5 minutes.
I stayed with him, helped him fill his water bottle, and left him.

Slept 2 hours, and went back with Lev to "Secret Control" the riders as they climbed out of the Dead Sea.
I used the orange traffic wands, and riders acknowledged them from a distance.

It took less than 3 hours to cover all riders (Werner, Peter, Lothar, Thomas, and Andreas, Aleksei, Richard) except Artem and Helmut Gries (DE) who apparently was the Lanterne Rouge.
After the last rider passed the secret control I drove to look for Helmut.
I think I drove more than an hour's worth of his riding, but couldn't see him in the distance.
So I guessed he DNF'd. I wasn't sure.
So I returned, and gave water to the riders that finished the climb from the Dead Sea (Sergey S).

Side Note:
In the ride's documentation that I sent to riders before the ride, I wrote that riders outside of "The Bulge" should take care of themselves.
The riders in the pre-ride the week before took care of themselves, so I knew it was doable.

Drove quickly to the next water point in the Big Crater, but couldn't reach the first riders.
They were all gone.

After the last riders from Hatrurim went through the water point in the Big Crater (Bob, Bob, Jean, Carey) I drove slowly through the Big Crater.
I told the riders that Yeroham is a good place for food and drink.
As I drove through Yeroham I saw one bike near a restaurant.
I went in, and asked the rider if the food was any good. He said "yes," so I told the owner that "we're more than 10 riders, and if you'd give us a 'good deal' then I'll bring them all to you"
He said "Sure. 25 NIS for Schwarma and a soft drink," which sounded ok to me.
I went outside, and directed the riders to this restaurant.
In total, more than 15 people ate there from our group (including Lev and me.)

Once there, the riders were charged for their drinks.
I asked the owner about it, and he said "I meant 'big drink to be shared' not 'individual drinks'"

Side Note:
In Israel - ALWAYS read the small print!

Bought food for the desert sections, and drove to Sde Boker.
Back to Sde Boker for the 2nd night things were smooth (Thomas and Werner.)
Artem was already on his way to Eilat, asking whether we'll give him water and/or food, and I said "sorry, no. He's too far ahead of the bulge."

3 riders said they DNF.
Andreas Horscht (DE) had a sore knee, and he told me about it before the ride.
The other had a belly ache, and I told him he has 5 hours to sleep and see if it's better.
The 3rd rider was too exhausted. He hardly rode this season.

After another 2 hours sleep I drove to Shizafon to give the riders food and water.
We met Artem near Zihor (about 30 km north of Shizafon, on his way back from Eilat,) and helped him a little.

In Shizafon we setup our "restaurant" (Sergey K and Thomas, Rinat and Igor, Peter.)
I told the riders they can "check in our hotel" on wooden tables, and that the toilet is on the other side of the road. :-)

Some riders didn't stop for long, and some slept for more than 30 minutes.
It was cold, and one of the riders left his warm clothes in Sde Boker.
Lev gave him his own warm clothes, and the rider went on.

Side Note:
Make sure riders understand that nights in the Dead Sea are warmer and not an indication to the colder nights in the desert...

From Shizafon we went to Yotvata to greet the riders as they returned from Eilat. (Shai, Igor, Lothar and Shai.)

Side Note:
Have extra local cash, and know the exchange rate, as some riders would like to change from Euros to local money.

Not all stopped, but we stayed until the last ones arrived.
There was a big gap to the Lanterne Rouge, so we drove to see where they were.

Suddenly, I saw Andreas show up in Yotvata.
After he DNF'd, he went to Tel Aviv, went into the Avis rental company, rented a car, and drove 300 km to Yotvata, and told me "I'm at your service!"
I couldn't thank him enough.
I gave him water, and instructed him to give to riders at the top of Paran Ascent.
Andreas is an experienced rider, and has 5 PBP's under his belt, not to mention many other rides.

I was worried that the restaurant in Shizafon would close.
I did have food in the car, but wanted the riders to have proper food in a restaurant.

Only 3 riders missed the restaurant closing times, but I manage to organize a cheese toast for them. (1, 2.)

Drove to the top of Paran Ascent to release Andreas, and give water to riders.
Waited till all the riders passed me, and drove to Mizpe Ramon.

Mizpe Ramon is a landmark in Israeli brevets.
In most of our brevets, once you reach there, the rest is easy.

Peter Zinner (DE) arrived exhausted to Mizpe Ramon.
I stayed with him until he felt better.
He told me "I've done 304 rides of 200 km and above, and this is ride number 305. I've never been close to quitting as I do now."
I told him "If you're here - it's just as you're in [the finish in] Tel Aviv."

Sde Boker on the 3rd night was deserted.
Helmut was there, and we had a little chat.
Some riders already left, and the others went straight to sleep.
I told whoever I saw to bring their drop bags to the room I was staying in.

This night I slept longer.
Lev and me said we'll wake up at 07:00 (about 7 hours of sleep.)
I woke up at 06:00 and saw all the drop bags.
Until 07:00 when Lev woke, I took all the drop bags to the car, and when he was ready, we left.

Luckily, there was tailwind most of the way from Sde Boker to Tel Aviv.

I met the Lanterne Rouge before the control in Kama.
Said a few encouraging words, and kept going.
I drove on the course for a while, until I met about half the riders, and then drove straight home.

At home did last minute arrangements before the post-ride BBQ.
Meanwhile, I had to inform friends and relatives about my estimation of their riders' finishing times.

Arrived with other Israelis supporters at the BBQ location a little before the official closing time (and the BBQ start time.)
All was relatively dry, but then a cloud broke above us, and we had torrential rain and strong winds for 30 minutes (in accordance with my estimate after checking the rain radar.)
Once it passed us, all was nice again and dry, and hardly any wind.

The medals were already ready for the post-ride BBQ, and I was able to give them personally to riders.
That was nice. :-)

ALL riders except one (who thought it was tomorrow) attended the post-ride BBQ.
They all stayed for 2 hours, which I see as a sign of success.

I must admit that the field was of very high quality.
Many riders are experienced randonneurs, and I was happy and honored to assist them as much as I could.

After the BBQ we went home, and had a talk with 2 riders who gave their comments.
Mainly it was about the first day being too short, which was known, after the route was changed (the original route went very close to the border with Gaza.)

It's possible that we'll have another 1200 km in 4 years, in 2018, which will have some of the issues ironed out.

On a personal note - I believe that with the amount of resources I had, I managed to put up a 1200 km brevet which I hope the riders enjoyed.

Report about Giorgio Bozza (IT), in Italian


Official Results:

Bozza Giorgio (IT), Passed
Chappelle Carey (CA), Passed
Felton Richard (CA), Passed
Gabidullin Rinat (RU), Passed
Gryshchuk Artem (UA), Passed
Hennighausen Lothar (SK), Passed
Kassel Robert (CA), Passed
Katzir Tal (IL), Passed
Kirgintsev Sergey (RU), Passed
Longtin Jean (CA), Passed
Minter Dave (UK), Passed
Möthe Thomas (DE), Passed
Razinovsky Shuki (IL), Passed
Schipper Ben (NL), Passed
Shirochenkov Sergey (RU), Passed
Shprung Shai (US), Passed
Székely-Molnár Ákos (HU), Passed
Swallow Judith (UK), Passed
Tsfati Assaf (IL), Passed
Weisbecker Werner (DE), Passed
Zavialov Igor (RU), Passed
Zinner Peter L. (DE), Passed

Bulychev Aleksei (RU), DNF
Copeland Charles (IE), DNF
Gries Helmut (DE), DNF
Heyman Itsik (IL), DNF
Horscht Andreas (DE), DNF
Mussayov Udy (IL), DNF

Cohen Abraham (UK), DNS
Severin Andrei (RU), DNS

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