Monday, June 30, 2008

tour of pennsylvania

I invited the neighborhood kids over and armed them with noise-makers in preparation for stage three of the Tour of Pennsylvania, which came down from Camp Hill on US11 right past our house.

We made noise.

Then I piled my girls and two friends into the car and we headed for the second KOM, just off the turnpike about 25 miles this side of Bedford.

We made more noise.

We also tried to get noticed. But no one seemed to care much that we were there (two thumbs down to the douchebags in the Slipstream car), though late in the caravan someone tossed the girls a couple of water bottles. Which was cool.

Anyway, we tried to get noticed. But not as hard as this guy.


I thought of dressing up, but I have to tell you I would have never thought of dressing like that... Nice. Really nice.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

cry, the beloved country

I just finished Cry, the Beloved Country, a much more readable novel than I had anticipated. I was expecting poignancy, significance, a little gut-wrenching...but I wasn't expecting the simplicity of method for getting me there. I'm very impressed. A new favorite.

A couple of favorite passages. First, after Kumalo and Msimangu first meet Kumalo's brother in Johansburg. Msimango reflects on the visit:

He stopped in the street and spoke quietly and earnestly to his companion. Because the white man has power, he said. But when a black man gets power, when he gets money, he is a great man if he is not corrupted. I have seen it often. He seeks power and money to put right what is wrong, and when he gets them, why, he enjoys the power and the money. Now he can gratify his lusts, now he can arrange ways to get white man's liquor, he can speak to thousands and hear them clap their hands. Some of us think when we have power, we shall revenge ourselves on the white man who has had power, and because our desire is corrupt, we are corrupted, and the power has no heart in it. But most white men do not know this truth about power, and they are afraid lest we get it.

He stood as though he was testing his exposition. Yes, that is right about power, he said. But there is only one thing that has power completely, and that is love. Because when a man loves, he seeks no power, and therefore he has power. I see only one hope for our country, and that is when white men and black men, desiring neither power nor money, but desiring only the good of their country, come together to work for it.


Simple. Almost obvious. But poignant. A passage which has nothing to do with race, but everything to do with social class, injustice, and power.

And this bit about love... The meta-lesson of Christianity, no? What tragedy that two millenia of pastoral corruption and pious self-righteousness has stripped the institution of Christianity of its Christian moors.

(I want to write more on this, but I'm fearful of being misunderstood. So I won't.)

...

A second passage. From the writings of Author Jarvis, who is killed by Stephen Kumalo's son.

It is hard to be born a South African. One can be born an Afrikaner, or an English-speaking South African, or a coloured man, or a Zulu. One can ride, as I rode when I was a boy, over green hills and into great valleys. One can see, as I saw when I was a boy, the reserves of the Bantu people and see nothing of what was happening there at all. One can hear, as I heard when I was a boy, that there are more Afrikaners than English-speaking peole in South Africa, and yet know nothing, see nothing, of them at all. One can read, as I read when I was a boy, the brochures about lovely South Africa, that land of sun and beauty sheltered from the storms of the world, and feel pride in it and love for it, and yet know nothing about it at all. It is only as one grows up that one learns that there are other things here than sun and gold and oranges. It is only then that one learns of the hates and fears of our country. It is only then that one's love grows deep and passionate, as a man may love a woman who is true, false, cold, loving, cruel and afraid.

I was born on a farm, brought up by honourable parents, given all that a child could need or desire. They were upright and kind and law-abiding; they taught me my prayers and took me regularly to church; they had no trouble with servants and my father was never short of labour. From them I learned all that a child should learn of honour and charity and generosity. But of South Africa I learned nothing at all.


I relate deeply to this passage.

As an American, I might write, one can read, as I read when I was a boy, the textbooks which extol the virtues of founding fathers, a land of plenty, of all; of the intelligent, the innovative, the moral, the courageous, the right; and pledge allegiance to its flag, with dignity and respect; and feel pride in it and love for it, and yet know nothing about it at all. It is only as one grows up that one learns that there are other things here than...the good.

And I might continue to write, I was brought up by honorable parents, given all that a child could need or desire.... From them I learned all that a child should learn of honor and charity and generosity. But of America I learned nothing at all.

Friday, June 20, 2008

my response to butterworth

This is how I replied (to this):

You ask what can be gained by boycotting your events. Quite a lot, it would seem.

From where I sit, the problems lying at the heart of all this, or at least contributing heavily, are (1) the profit motive--that you, or Rich, or whomever were trying to make a living out of promoting amateur bicycle racing--and (2) the cycling community’s reliance on (nearly) a single provider of racing events…rather than a loose conglomeration of events put on by nearly as many promoters as events.

A race calendar filled with events organized and managed by different groups of volunteers--cycling clubs and others--in a non-profit paradigm seems to me a much stronger, interesting, and aesthetically desirable calendar than one filled almost exclusively by one or two for-profit promoters. Why?

(1) Lower entry fees.

(2) Higher payouts.

(3) Charity motive (not always, but often).

(4) Events with charity motives promote both participant and spectator attendance AND…

(5) …make more sense for potential community sponsors (which can bring in both money and manpower).

(6) The culture of the whole thing feels community-oriented, not transaction-oriented. (The difference between a state fair and Six Flags. Who wouldn’t rather race at—or even just come to watch—a Turkey Hill vs. a Kirkwood or a Mt. Joy?)

(7) Club-run events provide opportunity for more racers and other cycling enthusiasts to get involved in organizing and promoting events (see prior point), balancing the 'take' vs. 'give' equation.

(8) When each event is organized by a different group or promoter, if one group has trouble and an event disappears, there are still plenty of other events left on the calendar.

This year’s Red Roses Racing calendar, and past years’ Pro-Am Cycling calendars, have done much to discourage cycling clubs and others from promoting their own events. That, to me, marks an unattractive trend. A trend, however, that will no doubt be reversed if you (and Rich) would give up on monopolizing the race calendar and only put on a very few events (if any at all).

Sincerely,

[signed]

butterworth's side of the story

Regarding the Red Roses Racing controversy (for more on the on-going saga, click here, here, here, here, here, and here) I got an email today from Dave Butterworth outlining his version of the story. I've reproduced it here (see my response):


As you may know Red Rose Races.com, Inc. has suspended operations and Rich Ruoff resigned from the company. Rich has been a friend and great cycling enthusiast and it’s terribly unfortunate that his business and personal debts got out of control to where things could not continue. People have asked to hear my side of the story, well here it is.

There seems to be a lot of misinformation going around in the cycling community about what happened and although this letter will get a little long for some, it may be the only chance I get to try to set the record straight. Remarkably there are even a few people holding onto the idea of a conspiracy theory, believing that Pro-Am Cycling Events, Inc. (David Butterworth) engineered the demise of Red Rose Races and Rich Ruoff. Quite to the contrary. In September 2007 Pro-Am Cycling “sold” the majority of its events to Red Rose Races and intended to exit the road race promotion business. Pro-Am Cycling received little of any money in this transaction and most of that was invested into additional equipment to assist Red Rose Races.

Background. Our two companies have worked side-by-side in Lancaster since 2003 organizing bicycle and multi-sport events. Going back to late 2005, Rich wanted to expand his menu of events and actually licensed and produced Kirkwood, Mount Joy, Union Grove, Millport, Peiffer Hill, and Brownstown for Pro-Am Cycling in 2006. Problems arose when I noticed Rich was spending the pre-registration credit balances in the BikeReg account to pay debts incurred in the prior season rather than using the money for current expenses, which then nearly bankrupt the company. I took over as treasurer for the rest of the season and we did not license our events to Rich again. Nevertheless, Rich and I stayed on friendly terms and helped each other out when needed.

Last spring Rich was threatened with a suit by Adecco for unpaid traffic marshaling and by the Pequea Fire Company for $1,330 in delinquent services fees from July 22, 2006. Pro-Am Cycling loaned Rich $1,500 to pay the second bill, but nevertheless that was the end for Mt. Nebo. In June 2007, West Earl Township told Rich to “pedal his bicycle elsewhere” due to past problems dating to 2004 and that was the end for Farmersville. Pro-Am Cycling also paid Rich’s past due fire-police bill to West Earl Fire Company ($600) and Farmersville Fire Company ($900). All of these loans were eventually repaid. Unfortunately, there were other strained relationships in Fulton Township and Christiana that made continuation of these events tenuous, although the later was likely to go on with or without Rich Ruoff. And there were half-a-dozen other cycling and multi-sport events that failed and were discontinued along the way under Red Rose Races as well.

Although we had talked of combining our events on many occasions in the past, I was wary from my experiences working with him and unwilling to yield complete control to Rich as he had insisted. The events acquired in September 2007 by Red Rose Races from Pro-Am Cycling were Strasburg, Kirkwood, Mount Joy, Union Grove, Millport, Rapho, Bird-In-Hand, Peiffer Hill, Brownstown, Mount Penn, Deodate, Stony Run, and Wonderland, and in large measure what could have made Red Rose Races a successful business that was able to provide Rich with a reasonable income and long-term career.

Transaction. In August 2007, Rich wanted to purchase Pro-Am Cycling’s events and although I was skeptical I was willing to consider the idea because he had a co-signer for his loan and it looked like a serious proposition. This would let me recoup my cycling “investment” and get out of the road race promotion business without any worries; or so I thought. On September 28 we signed a Sale Agreement, but Rich’s loan was looking sketchy as his co-signer needed more time to negotiate with his bank or possibly he was just reconsidering whether to participate in the loan after giving things some further thought. Rich insisted he could make the deal happen and promised to get a loan elsewhere if necessary. He said he knew finances would be tight and he agreed to keep expenses and his salary to a minimum for the next two years as Red Rose Races absorbed the transaction and looked for a major sponsor to underwrite the Pennsylvania Super Series™. Pro-Am Cycling agreed to finance the sale on a short-term basis if Rich’s bank loan or investor financing fell through with no payments due until March 2008.

By year-end nothing had changed and Pro-Am Cycling was committed to working with Rich. At the outset, the cyclocross events were money-losers and Pro-Am Cycling contributed $1,250 towards the expenses for Stony Run and Wonderland. Things turned around and by March 2008 the season was off and running with strong, record-setting numbers for Strasburg and things continued incredibly well for Kirkwood and Mount Joy. The business should have been successful.

Recent developments. Other than being a major creditor of Red Rose Races, David Butterworth and Pro-Am Cycling had very little to do with the management of the company. I discussed external issues with Rich, like making a cat. 5 race into a cat. 4 & 5 race, and helped him with the course set-up and tear-down on race day (for which I was considered paid staff). During the middle of the day I worked as a USA Cycling official.

On May 28, three days before Millport, Red Rose Races defaulted on the loan it had with Pro-Am Cycling as had been anticipated by our recent conversations and then – only then – became a majority owner of the company. There was no hostility between Rich and me with this turn of events and we talked of getting things back on track to the point where I could make a second exit and leave him to run the business on his own again. I still believed in Rich and the grand ideas he had for the Super Series.

After the note default, I was elected as a director of the corporation and became Treasurer. On May 31, 2008, Rich told me to bring my (Pro-Am Cycling’s) check book because he has no money to pay bills for Millport and wants a $4,000 loan. I had recently heard rumors of riders and officials having been given post-dated checks for payment at the Tour de Ephrata™ and Union Grove and I was concerned. Apparently he was now using his personal checking account to pay bills, not the Red Rose Races corporate account, in the hope that even if all of the prior checks bounced maybe he could settle his bills for Millport. If in fact Rich had again spent all of the Super Series ($17,200) and pre-registration ($3,900) credit balances on the BikeReg account, I knew he was in serious trouble and things were far worse than in 2006.

On June 2, 2008, Rich, Dave Felpel (Christiana promoter and mutual friend), and I met for lunch and to give Rich a check for the loan he requested and to discuss Red Rose Races business and financial situation. I questioned Rich on where all the money had gone and presented him with a list of liabilities I could plainly see were accruing against Red Rose Races. The company was essentially bankrupt. Rich really had no answer, but insisted he just needed more time and would make things up. His “plan” was for me to write him a $20,000 loan to get caught up on his bills, continue business operations, and pay himself an even higher salary than he’d taken already. I was willing to advance Rich the money needed for Millport, but not $20,000. So I said no and Rich abruptly resigned.

Now at that point things changed and perhaps that's what people need to understand because it wasn't any longer just about Millport, but it was now a question of everyone owed money getting thrown together into the creditor pool. We were now in a bankruptcy situation. Riders who paid for the full season, anyone pre-registered for a future event, cycling officials, and other creditors were equally entitled to getting something, not just the folks from Millport. There was no chance of me running the series as envisioned, both from a time/labor standpoint and due to the fact that with more than 20% of the projected income already siphoned off by Rich from the BikeReg account, each event was guaranteed to lose money. That would only make the problems bigger and so I canceled the remainder of the Red Rose Races series. I am now getting some bills paid and hopefully I’ll be able to retrieve more equipment from Rich to sell and refund everyone’s money. Please support my efforts to sort things out with Red Rose Races.

Where do we go from here? There are a few events in Lancaster County like the Turkey Hill Country Classic and the Cargas Criterium unaffected by this situation and they will likely continue as always, but there are about seventeen cycling events that could very well disappear. Christiana will be held, but it’s going to be a smaller event. Rich and Red Rose Races aren’t coming back. I talked with Rich earlier this week thought maybe we could work something out, but Rich has decided he’s moving on with his life and so I wish him well. Although I have no interest in promoting seventeen events, if given the opportunity, I will again organize ten to twelve of them through Pro-Am Cycling, which is ambitious but manageable. We are also willing to license several of the remaining Red Rose Races proprietary events for others to produce and can provide services and equipment as needed. A local club has already expressed interest in holding the Lancaster County Triathlon™ in July 2009.

Hopefully some very outspoken critics in the local cycling community won’t continue to be short-sighted and vindictive for the perceived inequities against Rich. An attempt to boycott our events just makes everyone a loser; what does it accomplish? Where will you race this season, next year, and the year after that? Don’t let these guys ruin it for you.

And that brings me to the Brownstown Road Race™, which is scheduled for Saturday, June 28. I have organized this event for the past five years and it’s always been a favorite. The Men 1, 2 & 3 and Men 4 races are PCA BAR races. The flyer can be found at: http://www.bikereg.com/events/register.asp?EventID=6695. All riders registered for the Pennsylvania Super Series™ and individual events under Red Rose Races will receive credit for an entry in the equivalent category; please email me to be re-registered. Be advised there is NO DAY-OF RACE REGISTRATION. PRE-REGISTRATION ONLY. You need to be registered by Thursday, June 26 at 8:00 PM. I hope you’ll come out to race. Thank you.

Sincerely,

David S. Butterworth
CEO
Pro-Am Cycling Events, Inc.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

diaspora

This is where the last 100 people who checked my blog live (minus New Zealand and Malaysia):

Ninety percent of them I know.

Ten years ago I would have never thought my friends would be so scattered. I think it's lucky. (Not because I don't want them around--that would be good too--but because their diaspora is the consequence of the kind of people they are. Talented. Ambitious. Educated. Professionally competent. Adventurous. Interesting.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

it's a boy

Unmistakable proof of masculinity (an obvious protrusion from between little legs) revealed itself Monday when vfg (I wanted to write "the blooming purple petunia," but that seemed a bit much) went under the transducer probe.

So, a baby goat. A baby male goat. Cool.

...

As I've been working on names it strikes me as a pretty good idea to write them down. I'll likely regret this later, but for now this post is my worksheet.

For years we've been saying our boy name would be this:

Reuben Wilde Goates
[my maternal grandfather/Oscar Wilde/Surname]

This name is attractive for many reasons. Wilde Goates. I mean, that's poetry. There's also a nice symmetry, both with the 6-5-6 letter combination, but also the Wilde-with-an-'e' and Goates-with-an-'e' combination. We also really like the name Ben, but aren't super keen on Benjamin. We keep coming back to this as our first choice, though my wife has at times expressed reservations about "Wilde" (because she doesn't want a wild child, and because of moral reservations about his namesake).

Ralph Waldo Emerson Goates
[Emerson (of course)/Surname]

I've always sort of liked those names where someone is named completely after somebody else. Like George Washington Carver, the slightly more romantic George Washington Hayduke, or from my daughter's current favorite movie, Benjamin Franklin Gates. The trouble is thinking of someone you admire enough to give your kid that person's whole name. Ralph Waldo Emerson fits the bill as a personally deeply admired poet, philosopher, theologian, etc. A quintessential American thinker. More Mormon that most Mormons. And I think "Emerson" would be a great name. He'd go by Emerson.

Other full-name possibilities include Thomas Jefferson Goates or John Steinbeck Goates, but (really, no offense to anyone) Tom and John just aren't really doing it for me.

Utah Anders Goates
[a really cool place/a sort of family name (Anderson)/surname]

Louis L'Amour fans will recognize Utah as the name of one of his more Clint Eastwood style characters, Utah Blaine. No doubt in part from that influence, the name to me conjures up images of stone-hard masculinity. Adventurism. Toughness. Red-rock landscapes and snow-covered peaks. All that good stuff. But when I suggested it, Val blew a hole through my sail, "Utah's a girl's name." Is it? Has it become that? Sad...

I also like Anders. It's sort of my own invention. Well, it's obviously an old name, and I like Ander better than Anders, but if I said I was naming him after the Andersons in my wife's line, anyone who knows anything would know that the father of the son from which "Anderson" came was named Anders, not Ander. Plus, there's already a Zander in the family (a cousin), so that would get confusing.

Those are the most complete names I've come up with. Now for the rag-tag list of name possibilities that are somehow attractive that could get incorporated somehow, first, middle, something:

Anders
Emerson
Kimball
Michaux
Noah
Reuben
Utah
Wasatch

It's not a very long list.

I've been trying to come up with a couple names that are somehow bicycle related too. A name of a bicycle part, a race, a classic climb or something. But there's nothing too romantic in crank or spoke and I don't know what a Roubaix is (other than a place in France).

I'm also running through plant names, geological terms (mostly mountain-type stuff), places in Brazil I know, and cool Portuguese words, but I'm coming up empty. (I think one of the coolest Portuguese words is vergonha, but I can hardly name a kid that!)

One last thought. I remember when I was a senior in High School ('91) that I had decided to someday name my kid Eddie (or Edward) after the three great Eddies: Eddie Merckx, Eddie Van Halen, and Eddie the dog on American Flyers. (A few years later I would have added a forth Eddie, Eddie Vedder.) That no longer seems an attractive idea.

I welcome your thoughts.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

bsnyc

My bike, reviewed (also, Mark's).

...

Blogging (about bicycles) is usually pretty depressing because (1) it's so obviously and unapologetically self-indulgent that when I stop to think about it for two seconds I begin to taste a little vomit, (2) it's so obviously and unapologetically self-indulgent in a very unoriginal way because (my heavens!) EVERYONE! has a blog (I'm pretty sure bike shops now require a blogspot login with the purchase of a new bike...or at least a well-recognized url is necessary for participation in many group rides), and (3) so many people do it better than me I'm not sure why I bother (more do it a lot worse too, but I've never spent much time worrying about those on the left side of the bell curve).

Connectivity (is that really a word?) has made us all small fish.

winter park hill climb

A race report from my brother (Colorado Springs, CO). Nice work!


The hill climb [was a] 5.3 mile, 2000' climb. The start group was huge, according to the results, 92 people in the start group (63 in the 40-44 age group, 29 in the 44-49 group.)

I started right at the front and gave it a good kick because I wanted to be sure I knew who the leaders were so I knew who I had to chase. Unfortunately, I was quickly passed by 20 or more guys sprinting out. I got a good picture in my mind of the leaders, then just buckled down to a fast pace -- maybe too fast as I was soon fighting a side ache -- which I dealt with all the way up. Within the first mile one leader got away far enough that I could not see him any more. I passed most of the sprinters, and there was a group of 3 that I had to reel in over the next mile or so. Finally at about mile 2.5 I caught and passed the guy I thought was 2nd. He quickly passed me back. I caught him again and as I passed he asked my category. Same one! So he sprinted ahead. I realized he was serious, and I was going to have to pass him decisively and drop him or I'd never shake him. I stuck right on his wheel huffing a puffing loudly so he knew I was there -- and to push him -- hopefully beyond his level. He struggled on the steepest climbs, so I just waited for him to make a mistake. Finally, at about 1.5 miles to go, he picked a loose line about half way up a steep section, slipped slightly, and I attacked. I pushed really hard up the steep and sprinted across a flatter section, then settled back to a
steady, hard cadence for the next up. My side was hurting and I desperately wanted to slow down. Breathe, Breathe, I kept telling myself because I knew to meet my 42 minute goal I had to push. At about 1/4 mi
to go I risked a look back as I rounded the final corner, but didn't see him. Whew. I had nothing left, but forced a push anyway -- not realizing he was sprinting to the finish trying to catch me. There was not enough time. I beat him, but only by a few bike lengths.

I was totally whipped. I almost fell on the ground when I stopped. I still don't know what a side ache (side stitch) is, but it sure hurts. I hurt the rest of the day. I thought I had 2nd, but later, looking at the results, realized there were actually 2 faster guys that dropped us, but both were in the younger age group.

http://www.epicsingletrack.com/default.asp?page=/Results2008/Race1/M3EE.html

After the finish, I spoke to the guy I played cat and mouse with. He expressed regret for not pushing harder. He thought he had more time, and he regretted not giving it more on course. He probably is the faster rider. What a sad story, I thought. What a sad thing to go home with.

Sorry, here comes the coach in me ... Yes it hurt, but I have no regrets. The deciding factor was mind, not body. That's the way to finish a race -- leave it all on the course.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

daily double

Doubled up again today.

A 40k TT in the morning along the deceptively hilly Walnut Bottom Road. 57:13. (Is that just about a 26mph average?)

Mass start South Mountain Hill Climb. 5/25.

...

Yesterday I got my TT rig finished. It's really just my old Fetish road frame converted into a TT rig. Complete with a Josh Beck hand-me-down disc wheel and my new, very dorky, TT helmet. My position still needs a lot of work. I need to get my butt at least a centimeter higher and my whole body probably two centimeters further forward. Also, I need a saddle I can actually manage to sit on for an hour. I finished the race today with bruised sit bones (current TT saddle: a five-year old Selle Italia Flite). It was a delight to get on my other bike a few hours later for the hill climb. Like therapy.

The hill climb was great fun. A 7.5 mile climb up something like 1,300 ft. Obviously that's not very steep. Good for fat guys like me.

Two wraith-like creatures attacked out of a group of maybe ten of us with about two and a half to go. They held on to finish 1-2. I let a gap open up between me and the next three riders with about 1.5 to go, but having the benefit of knowing the climb well, I attacked those riding my wheel on the last steep part before about a kilometer of flat stuff on the top. I caught the others on the flats. Finished third out of that group.

JB Haglund made the drive from Philly to race with me today. The guy says he doesn't ride much, but he posted a TT time about 50 seconds faster than mine and finished right behind me on the hill climb. Humbled.

What's nuts about the TT is that my out split was over three minutes faster than his...so I rode the back 20k over four minutes slower than him...but my backside 20k was still faster than my frontside 20k. Like I said: Nuts.

Also, this was my first 40k TT. I didn't really like it that much. I'd say something like a 20k TT is a more comfortable limit...inasmuch as any TT has anything to do with comfort.

Pictures (hopefully) to come.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

neuvation

See, I don't get this stuff.

Belgium Knee Warmers gives this awesome review (and, later, this one) of a Neuvation wheelset and, it would seem, those commenting who have the wheels agree--quality wheels cheap.

My own experience has been less than positive.

I bought a pair of the R28 SLs a little over two years ago. John gives (or gave) deals to group buyers, so I hustled up some of my Vandy buddies and we bought four or five wheelsets.


My wheels are light--no complaint there--but I have not been impressed with how they ride. Compared at first to a old pair of Bontrager Race Lites, and more recently to my Bontrager Race X Lite Aeros, they feel spongy in a sprint, they provide less confidence in a high speed decent, and--most annoying--after just a few hundred miles the rear hub began making the strangest noise at high torque (i.e. climbing).

I've had both wheels trued and tensioned several times and the rear hub serviced--the wheels still feel spongy and the rear hub still makes that horrible noise.

None of this matters so much, I suppose. They serve their current purpose as backups fine. But I would so like them to be all Mr. Neugent claims they are, and that others--like BKW--has found them to be...because, I mean, that'd be a great deal. I'd buy more (like the C50s in the second review). I'd recommend them to my cash-strapped students. Et cetera.

Oh well...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

pictures! philly!

As always, Michael Kirk delivers.

In this case, some terrific shots from Philly. Here are a few of my favorites (I hope he doesn't get too pissed that I'm reproducing his photos here):







Monday, June 9, 2008

I need pictures!

But I don't have any. Posts without pictures are boring.

Saturday I trotted on down to Northern Virgina for a double header (30+ & cat 3) at Ride Sally Ride. Twenty miles each. Thirty laps each. It was hot (my car said 103).

I didn't finish well in either event (field finishes), but I rode aggressive, found myself in a few breaks, and made a valiant effort at third (there was a two-man break waay off the front) in the 30+ race in the final laps. With about five to go a guy went solo off the front. I bridged up. Caught my breath on his wheel for a lap (he was riding strong), then took a pull and he immediately fell off the pace. Had we stayed together it might have worked. As it was, I was caught with about 1.5km to go.

Did I say it was hot? At the end of both races I felt myself getting chilled and even starting to shiver a bit. Probably not such a good thing.

The new bike performed wonderfully. It really is a vast improvement over the old ride.

red roses racing

Too weird.

(Read it quick. I doubt Rich's letter will be up long.)

...

(June 20th update.)

As predicted, the text of Ruoff's letter was quickly removed. Thanks to an autonomous commenter we have the text in its entirety, which I've reproduced here. My contribution to the PA bicycle racing historical legacy.


Wow! What happened? In the space of three days Red Rose Races.com, Inc. went from being the largest promoter of bicycle races in the U.S.A., enjoying explosive growth at all of the races, to being shut down, just like that. If you want the story, read on.

Brief History: Red Rose Races.com was formed by myself Richard Ruoff, in 2003 to promote endurance athletic events, (Mostly bike races) in Lancaster County. I am a former amateur bike racer and have always loved the sport. Even as I stopped racing in my twenties and started my first career, I kept my hand in the sport. After starting the Chameleon Club, (A little juke joint here in Lancaster that has had a band or two on it’s stage.) I sponsored and directed the Chameleon Club Cycling Team. I also created and promoted the Tour of Mt. Nebo during this period.

After 17 years of running Chameleon and getting married and having our first child, I sold the club. I decided to combine my experience of promoting music concerts with my love of cycling. Every year, while organizing the Tour of Mt. Nebo, I always thought it could be done better. When you do an event with volunteers and only once a year, it was hard to get everyone up to speed on what is expected at an event. Things like smooth registration, good pace and follow drivers, competent officials and results, safe marshalling were all hit-and-miss year-to-year. This was typical in most amateur cycling events. I figured if I put together a series, we could smooth out these wrinkles and everyone would be a winner.

Coincidentally, at the same time, another middle-aged former cyclist had a similar idea. What are the chances that two guys, who didn’t know each other, would start the same type of business in a small market with a small sport at the exact same time? The other guy’s name is David Butterworth.

Early on, I was worried he might ruin the scene by putting on bad races. I didn’t know him and wanted to make sure he was going to do it right. I offered my services for a fee to help run his events on race day. He agreed. We both fumbled around in the beginning, learning what worked and what didn’t, tweaking each of our events as we learned. We definitely had different styles on running this type of business. I am service oriented, trying to create a rider friendly environment. This is from my background in food & beverage and running Chameleon. I know if you treat people right, they will come back. This is also something I had ingrained in me from an early age by my father, the best businessman I’ve known. I was willing to risk losing money from time-to-time, focusing on the long-term viability of these events and not panicking when not-quite-enough riders showed up for a category to justify the prize list. Just pay em’ and learn.

David Butterworth is more of a bottom line type of operator, perhaps due to his experience as a banker.

After awhile, we tried an arrangement where I leased his events and ran them myself. The races were good and growing but I realized I was just building his asset. We couldn’t agree on how to proceed, so in 2007 we parted company. I ran my events and also was doing some work for the Pro Cycling Tour, including working as Event Director at the Lancaster and Reading Pro Races and a bit of work at the Philadelphia International Championships. I also did preliminary course design work for the upcoming Tour of Pennsylvania.

While working big budget Pro Races is exciting, I missed the interaction of working with developing riders. Also, while I have huge respect for PCT’s David Chauner and Jerry Casale and the great events that they have built, I wouldn’t want to work under that model. It is all Marketing Partnership oriented. All is well and good until a Title Sponsor decides to switch 5% of their marketing budget to billboards and there goes your million-dollar event. My little events give me heartburn, no thanks for the stress on the pro only level.

I knew if I combined David Butterworth’s events with Red Rose Races.com I would have a huge series that would draw attention and more participants, especially if I reactivated the Pennsylvania Super Series. Attendances at David’s events in 2007 were steadily dwindling. I figured he would be ready to dump them.

David and I negotiated and came to a price. I was hoping to find a partner to finance the purchase of his series but no luck. He offered to finance the deal. I agreed. We combined all of our races and my equipment under the new entity Red Rose Races.com, Inc. I started monthly payments in 2008.

Some people have wondered, “Why bother to purchase someone else’s events, when you can just start your own?” I’ll tell you. It is a lot of work to arrange a new course, including developing a relationship with the township(s), property owner’s, etc. There is a learning curve for unknown factors around a new course. Something seemingly small like a milk truck making a pick up at a farm on the course can cause stress until everyone is aware of the race and the best way to deal with it. The first time I send out a resident notice for a new course, I receive a lot of calls with questions. By the 3 or 4th year, nobody gives it a second thought. Residents either ignore the race or set up lawn chairs and cheer the riders on.

And every year you hold a race, more riders are aware of it and tell their friends and they come the next year. An established race always has better turnouts than a new race.

Let me tell you, organizing permits with 30 different municipalities, arranging Penn Dot permits, USAC permits, parking, restrooms, medical and traffic control for 25 days worth of events is a huge undertaking. I have been working my ass off since this deal went down. We went full throttle into the first race of the year at Strasburg. We were blessed with record turnouts, particularly amazing in this recession year.

Fortunately we planned ahead and ordered enough port-o-johns for the crowds and had enough registration help so riders didn’t have to wait more than 5 or10 minutes in a line. New for this year was our neutral wheel support, which saved riders from having to bring their spare wheels to a follow vehicle with the hope of getting it back after the race. We also had a mechanic at every race. Details like this make for a better race experience.

The spring was so busy, I hired in extra help to run the office during the week and on event days to make sure all bases were covered. Each event is now profitable, something that couldn’t be said in the early years.

But the monthly nut of paying off David Butterworth was high. By late May I asked him if he was willing to extend the note from two to four years to lower the monthly payment. He said no. He also reminded me our agreement wouldn’t allow me to raise capital by selling shares. At least not until I finished buying him out.

- While attendance was huge, sponsorship was off due to the economy. Back in the winter when sponsorships are secured, most potential marketing partners were playing it close to the hip. Now the season was going and the marketing value of associating with us was obvious to anyone paying attention (Our website received over 750,000 hits in April alone!). Unfortunately we were too busy to pursue marketing partners and even if we weren't, most have committed their budgets for the year. -

Butterworth then suggested he would be happy to be my partner. As a friend he would help run the company and even act as treasurer. He could see we were slamming and I was very busy. He told me several times that “I was knocking the cover off the ball,” in regards to attendance and revenues at the events. There was a mechanism in the original contract that allowed us to slide into just such an arrangement if I defaulted on the note. It put him into 60% ownership position and myself at 40%.

Now I know the smarter among you reading this have warning bells going off in your head. “DON’T DO IT RICH!” you’re yelling to yourself. Well, this is my “Crossroads” moment in life.

The 60/40 thing wasn’t as outrageous as it sounds. I brought along some debt with my events. In developing the series I absorbed losses on events from time to time and needed to infuse cash occasionally to pay bills. This is not unusual in a new business or even an established one. The point is, I was always willing to do that. I have always taken the long view for this business. I was actually enjoying it so much, that I wanted to take it to retirement. I knew if I kept doing rights things, the money would follow.

The debt is small compared to the spectacular growth we were experiencing this year and the projected growth, especially in light of some new revenue streams I was developing for the future. This is nothing compared to what I carried while growing Chameleon Club. BTW, I started Chameleon with $5000 in 1985 when I was 23 and grew it to a $1,000,000 a year business at it height. I know how to grow a business.

Additionally, David Butterworth told me he purchased the Vandedrome, a 170-meter portable cycling track, (If you can call something that needs multiple tractor trailers to be transported portable.) This track has a bit of famous history and was designed by Olympian John Vande Velde, father of Christian Vande Velde, who just wore the “Maglia Rosa” leaders jersey in May’s Giro D’ Italia. The first American to do so since Andy Hampsten won the Giro in 88’. To me, the good part of this was I would continue to develop the road scene in this market while David would develop the track. It would have been the perfect marriage to develop these two disciplines of this great sport. It would help solidify our position as the hottest cycling market in the country.

A funny side to this track story is David asked me not to tell his wife he purchased the track. Jeesh, I tell my wife when I buy socks! I guess that is another difference between us.

Back to the story: We were just entering in to the busiest stretch in Red Rose Races.com’s history. We had a race scheduled every weekend from, May 17th to August 10th, including two stage races. I was concentrating on running these events and David was offering to help when I needed it most. He even said he would sell me back his share of the business slowly so I could take it into retirement. Around noon, in my dining room, on Friday May 27th, 2008 I signed the deal.

Kick self now…

I had invited David to come into the Red Rose Races office with his laptop and we would start working on getting up to date on the books. I was going to set him up at desk and I figured over a couple of weeks he would have a handle on this business so he could really start to contribute to our growth. We couldn’t do it on Friday, because I was setting up for the Millport Road Race the next day. It takes me almost a full day to download registration data, organize and print start sheets and assign numbers, as well as download and print athlete release forms as well as take care of last minute rider calls and emails,
Pick out course signs, load trailer, buy food and drink for race personnel, etc.

Within two hours of signing the paperwork David Butterworth had gone to the bank to open a new account under his signature then to his home, where he scanned into the computer the document making him controlling partner, emailed to Steve Roszko at Bike Reg. com, (Bike Reg. is our online registration service. They take registration for upcoming races then forward the balance of the proceeds the Monday after the race to our account.) and asking Bike Reg. to now forward all money to David’s new account. Steve, being the cool guy he is, emails me right away to determine if this David Butterworth is legit to take Red Rose Races.com, Inc. money.

I’m a little shocked. I thought this is something we could have handled the next week together. Maybe go to a bank together to get both of our signatures on the new checking account and then I would contact Bike Reg. to introduce the new Treasurer.

I call David and tell him I was contacted about the new arrangement, he sounds nervous on the phone, which makes me nervous. He said he was going to tell me the next day. I tell him I don’t have enough money in the account to handle all the checks I will have to write the next day for prizes and to officials, etc. I was expecting the Bike Reg. money to come straight to me as it always has for the previous 5 years. He says no problem, we’ll meet at noon, Monday and he’ll give me all the Bike Reg. money coming- about $4000 to cover the checks I will be writing. I say fine. I went to the bank and cashed a check from my joint account with my wife to get some cash to fill the prize envelopes. I use this account because there is more money in it than the existing Red Rose Races.com account. If the weather is nice on Saturday, the walkup registration cash will make up difference and I will be able to fill the rest of the prize envelopes. Then I can just write checks to the officials, drivers and USA Cycling, post date them for the following Wednesday and it will be sure to be covered by then.

Unfortunately, for the first time this season, we had a huge thunderstorm (Complete with tornado warning.) come through at the Millport Road Race. We even stopped racing for over an hour. This scares away a lot of walkup registration. So more checks are written.

Funny side story- the rain causes the start/finish line trailer to sink into the mud in the field. When I go to leave, I get stuck. I leave the trailer and come back in the morning, but the fields are still too wet and it doesn't budge. Third time is a charm, later that afternoon.

I’m not big on symbolism but between the tornado warning and getting stuck you know something is up. Read on…

David Butterworth and I met for lunch on Monday June 2 as planned. David Felpel, all around cool guy and avid supporter and volunteer at the races joins us for lunch at David’s suggestion. The conversation starts off cordial and then things go south, fast!

By the end of the meeting David had informed me, 1. He is not going to pay me for running the business as President. 2. He also stated he refuses to make payments towards the debt accumulated while growing the business. 3. Then he informs me he will not be paying me any money from Bike Reg. to cover all the checks I wrote two days before for the Millport race.

I inform Mr. Butterworth I can’t work for free. I have been working 50-60 hours per week since the beginning of the year. In fact I have been working full time on Red Rose Races for five-plus years. It is my only job and I have a wife and three children with a mortgage to pay. I inform him Red Rose Races.com is also obligated to pay it’s debts and I tell him he also needs to pay me the most recent Bike Reg. money to cover the checks I had written for the Millport Road Race. I remind him I used our personal account. To all of this he is unfazed and doesn’t care. It is not his problem he says.

Now, I’m really stuck. I tell him I have to quit and go find a job immediately. I can’t work for free. Last I heard, indentured servitude was against the law. I tell him he needs to figure this out and I left the lunch.

Needless to say, this was not one of my better lunches.

I go back to the office and shortly thereafter I notice David Butterworth has closed on-line registration for the next three races. By Tuesday morning June 3rd, he has posted a notice on Bike Reg. that the next three races are canceled. I then send him an email, insisting as a 40% shareholder in Red Rose Races.com that he run all the races on the schedule and if he can’t he needs to hire someone to run them and if he wasn’t willing to do that he needed to pay me to run them or better yet, let me buy him out and I would take over the races again. I offered him $1,500 per month for five years. $90,000 all in. He wouldn’t have to do anything, just sit back and rake in the dough.

His reply to that was we were done! No more Red Rose Races.com. He then sends out an email that is reported in the local paper that I had quit as President. (I suppose technically that is true, but if you refuse to pay your employee, isn’t that more like a firing?) He also states in a phone call to the reporter, “past and current expenses has snowballed out of control, until we were unable to cover expenses”.

Now here is where it gets interesting. David Butterworth has never, ever seen the books at Red Rose Races.com, Inc. He has never seen check stubs, banks statements, balance sheets, save for a few incomplete event spreadsheets. He has never bothered to research where the company money is spent or to analyze the revenue streams.

All of this has been available to him at our office, but since he was only majority owner and Treasurer for one full business day before he decided to let me go and dismantle the company, he hadn’t yet taken the time to do so. I don’t know how any responsible officer or owner of a company can make any decision that will have catastrophic consequences concerning the future of that company without doing their due diligence.

I sent David one more email encouraging him to save the business and let me run it. He didn’t respond for two days. Then he called for a meeting. I was hopeful he had seen the light and wanted to strike a deal. We met Friday June 6 at 9:15 a.m. All he wanted was to liquidate the few hard assets of the company. He was disappointed to learn the start/finish trailer, our most expensive piece of equipment we used, belonged to the bank and not us. We do have some rusty fencing, moldy tents and old signs, but after that the hard asset list drops off pretty quick.

Our main asset was the races. All of which have been profitable this year. And he canceled the rest of those.

If this story seems crazy to you, don’t worry. It does to me too.

There has been much speculation in the cycling community as to why he has committed this atrocity. Selfishness, greed, jealousy, petty vindictiveness, OCD, short sightedness, out and out stupidity or just pure evilness have all been mentioned as possible reasons. I don't know. I’m not a psychologist.

What strikes me is the self-destructive nature of his decision. What ever he saw that spooked him, I don’t see it. Now I have more experience and more success than he has had at running businesses. When you’re experiencing a red-hot year like Red Rose Races.com, Inc. was this year, this is when you jump on the opportunity. This is why I took him up on his offer to work together. I knew for sure we could double the revenues by 2010 with everything we had in place. This is the kind of year where you push forward and not turn and run with your tail between your legs. Deep down, I don’t think this was a decision based on business concerns. I think other factors are in play. Factors that are unknown to me.

The Damage: Considerable. What David Butterworth has done to my family is just awful. My wife, Claudia, bless her heart, co-signed a note (A second mortgage on our home) that was the principal source of equity for financing the start up of this company.

She has been and continues to be my biggest supporter. When the reality of what has just happened set in, at her insistence, we decided to roll up our sleeves and solve our sudden financial crisis. With no income and debt payments due, action has to be taken.

Bankruptcy is not an option in Lancaster County. (You might as well wear a sign that says, LEPROSY). We are now actively house shopping. We are going to downsize from our modest suburban home. We like our home of eight years but you got to do what you got to do.

Our oldest boy who is seven, figured out what was up and discreetly asked his mother if we were going to be homeless? Nice.

Our five-year-old middle son knows I’m out of job and thinks I should become an auto mechanic. Doubtful. Maybe I’ll try being a bike mechanic again.

We’re holding a huge garage sale on June 21st. Come on by. Other creditors include family members, and old friend and a friend of cycling. They are all watching this saga with keen interest.

This fiasco affects all of the staff that have helped build this venture from Mike Doupe, (Mike is good friend and the biggest cycling nut I know), Kay Hower, (Thank you for your help. Keep riding.) All the registration volunteers, drivers, Roadie Rob, (You’ve helped at every race since 1993), Brad Kurtz on announcing, The Miller family on results and all of the USAC officials and Moto Marshals. Additionally all of the fine folks who work traffic control at our events.

Of course the scene of cycling has been decimated in Central PA because of this. Thousands of cyclists who have targeted our schedule for this summer are out of luck.

USA Deaf Cycling was going to fly in all their best riders from around the country to target our Dutch Country Stage Race. This was to be their selection race for the Deaflympic team going to Taiwan in 2009.

This mess also forced the cancellation of the best Junior riders from Australia, Fifteen of whom were scheduled to compete at two of our events this summer. While all categories are suffering, Junior racing is taking a particularly hard blow. We were the largest promoter of Lance Armstrong Junior Olympic Races in the country.

And Lancaster County itself takes a significant hit. Our events drew from the whole mid-Atlantic region. Of the 10,000 athletes who were coming this year, most were from outside of Lancaster and the state. Many brought along friends and relatives. The local positive economic impact from this series was approaching two million dollars for 2008 alone.

The negative effects of gutting this series are substantial. And the most frustrating part of it is, it was so unnecessary.

My approach to business is I have always tried to create win-win-win situations. Everyone from the customer (In this case the riders), the employees, the sponsors, the County and the business all have something to gain from a successful event. The sum becomes larger than the parts. Ideally the participants have a satisfying, fun and healthy event and can’t wait to come back. The race staff and volunteers get to be involved with a great event that is psychically rewarding, the sponsors not only get large number of eyes on logos but a tremendous feel good connection with their business or product.

This ultimately makes a series like Red Rose Races.com, become a part of the community fabric. It is bigger than the owners. It is a community asset that needs to be nurtured and supported. I’m not sure David Butterworth understood he was part of something that was bigger than him or me. It is a richly rewarding experience to build something like this and ultimately worth more than all the money in the world.

I have been fortunate to experience this once before when I developed and ran the Chameleon Club. I’ve been long gone and yet with responsible stewardship it continues to be an asset to the community. I had hoped to do that again with Red Rose Races.

Where do we go from here?:

There are riders and vendors owed money from recent races. Either prizes that weren’t paid or checks that are uncashable. Also riders who pre-registered for specific events that were not held and of course the 50 riders who took a chance and pre-registered for the whole season. (I feel the worst for you since I created the concept for this season and you were the ones who plunged in.)

As noted previously in this article I no longer own controlling interest in Red Rose Races.com, Inc. and I no longer have a job. Therefore I am not in a position to pay any of these bills. David Butterworth wants to liquidate the company of it hard assets to pay off the debts, but as I also noted there is probably only pennies on the dollar left of a limited number of assets so the chances of you seeing any money from this are slim to none. Twice last week David told me he won’t put any money into the series such as I have done over the years to make it viable. So I wouldn’t hold my breath for your money.

I’m a going to take one more crack at saving this series:

I am asking anyone who knows David Butterworth and would like to see this series continue to ask him to do the right thing and take his foot off its neck. I will take responsibility for all debt including recent prize and registration issues. I will work to salvage what I can for this season, but the last week was a missed critical deadline for many of the events on the calendar so it will be tough to hold more than a few of the events for this year. It might take me awhile to pay everyone, but over time I will make it right. All David has to do his relinquish his shares of the series to me. It is obvious we can never work together again.

Several law firms and attorneys have contacted me about handling the civil aspects of this case offering pro bono representation for a healthy contingency fee, of course, (They smell blood). I’m not a lawsuit kind of guy and my preference is to solve this thing in a way that allows me to make a living do what I enjoy, brings back the scene for the cycling community and Lancaster County and end this nightmare.

So please if you know anyone who is friends with David or his wife (I’m not sure she knows what a mess he has caused or how much liability he has exposed his family to. My wife and I have enjoyed dinner with the Butterworth’s and we find it hard to believe Mrs. Butterworth would want to see our family or her family hurt the way David’s actions are hurting ours). Please try to open a line of communication and maybe we can save this thing.

The Butterworth’s attend Westminster Presbyterian Church in Lancaster on Oregon Pike. Sometimes they attend Calvary Church on Landis Valley Rd. and they also are active at Lancaster Christian School off Lampeter Rd. in Lancaster. Perhaps if you or your children go to any of these houses of worship you can start a friendly conversation about this issue.

Thank you:
I have received hundreds of emails, phone calls and visits from people expressing their moral support and pledging to attend future races I may promote. Your words of encouragement are most appreciated at this trying time. We really appreciate it.

Apologies:
To Everyone effected by this. I’m truly sorry for all of this mess. If I could, I would correct it right away.
When I took on a partner I knew there was a possibility of problems, but I always thought partner problems were related to disagreements on the best way to move forward. This one has confounded me since one partner just wants to go backwards! Please have some patience with me and if I can, I will make things right.

I know there are good responsible people working on bringing back some races to Lancaster this year yet. If any come to my attention, I will post them here.

I still own the Red Rose Races.com domain name. If the series is revived you will learn about it here first. I may still be reached at info@redroseraces.com.

David Butterworth can be reached at 717-468-8080 or emailed at david@majorleaguecycling.com

Finally,
Anybody need help? I’m looking for a job!
Thanks for reading this long strange trip.
Rich Ruoff

Friday, June 6, 2008

cyclist in Chicago killed by driver

A while ago, someone brought this article to the attention of the mabra listserv:

Cyclist killed in Logan Square crash mourned by family members

Conversation ensued. I meant to reproduce my contribution here, but didn't. So I will now.

The topic is an old, tired one. It has inspired the otherwise rational towards fits of impassioned fury. With. Holy. Righteous. Indignation. Damn the law-breakers...

Here's my take; a (surprise!) contrarian, though I believe more sensible, view:


This makes sense:

>> the area where cyclists need to make improvements is really in the matter of pred
ictability, being consistent and uniform (group cohesiveness), in their divergence from the motorist's pattern of behavior, as opposed to pretending to be a motor vehicle.

This does not:

>> The single-most principle of riding safely in traffic is to ACT LIKE A CAR!

...

A bicycle is not a car. In fact, a bicycle resembles a car in no meaningful way. Therefore it makes no sense to constrain the "proper" behavior of a cyclist on the roadway to what a car can and cannot do. Because traffic laws were written largely without consideration of non-motorized traffic, I consider myself only vaguely subject to traffic law when riding a bicycle.

...

What is or should be "proper" bicycling behavior is perhaps an open question...but one that it seems to me has been reasonably negotiated culturally. In other words, while there is always some deviance--as there is with motorist behavior as well--I find most (experienced) cyclist behavior, riding alone or riding in groups, reasonably appropriate and predictable...including *gasp* the generally accepted practice of not coming to complete stops at stop signs or signals or *double gasp* riding along side or between rows of cars stopped in heavy traffic. And what's more, I do not think motorists, so long as cyclist behavior does not impede the general flow of traffic, find these behaviors (for the most part--there are clearly exceptions) especially disconcerting.

Peace, it seems to me, is accommodating differences, not imposing conformity.

Nathan Goates
Shippensburg, PA

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

manayunk

On Sunday, my Philadelphia wanderings finally landed me at "the wall." I'd been riding right past it for weeks, but thanks to Johann and, later, some dude sitting on the curb of Main Street sipping a cup 'o joe in his fancy kit, I was able to pin-point it's location.

This coming Sunday, you'll get to see a bit of racing up the wall (and maybe this, but of course in different colors) if you're paying attention to this (but you won't likely see this).

According to some dude's estimate, "the overall grade of the Manayunk Wall is [about] 10%. There are intervals when the grade is 17%. In one 150 yard stretch, there is even an 18.5% grade."

Anyway... It was fun riding up it a couple of times. It's really not that bad--there's just one stretch, comprising about a city block, which is really steep. But it's nothing like I remember Horizon Drive in Boise. Somebody should run a race up that sucker.