Then there are the promoters that put on a race and treat any sort of criticism or feedback as an insult. These are the worst kind of promoters, the kind that think they are god's gift to cycling because they put on a race and regardless of what they actually did, you need to kiss their ass. These are the people that will attack you if your feedback is anything but praise.
Then there are the promoters that put on a race, and ask for feedback with the intention of putting on better race next year. At the Darkhorse 40, one of the best promoted races I've ever been a part of, I was asked more than once by the promoter what I thought. Did you like the course? How was the BBQ? Did you get a beer? I'm sure the other 400+ other people there felt that Mike legitimately cared about their race experience. That's no coincidence, Mike did care. As he stated as he threw swag out to anyone who took a DNF, he wanted to make sure everyone went home happy.
So you can imagine my excitement when I received and email from the Landmine promoter that was sent to all racers with the intention of collecting feedback to make next year's race better. If Mark asked for my feedback in person instead of via email, it would have been hard to resist the urge to hug him. He is truly a promoter of the highest class.
I typed up my responses immediately, and they will serve as my race report. Remember, it's the new squirt gun show, quantity, not quality. I will continue to turn any bike related email I type into a blog entry. Enjoy.
Is there a section of the course that should be removed?
Yes, A mile or two after the first feed zone, there was a sharp righthand turn that immediately went down a size-able dropoff into a pool of standing water. Not sure exactly what was going on under that water, but it seemed like there was a front wheel sized ditch lurking. I crashed hard here, and around 60% of the racers I talked to at the finish crashed here as well.
Also, I'm not a fan of the long parts of the course where you are riding alongside oncoming racers. These parts are typically on the long paved straight aways, which are perfect for passing, but it's dangerous to pass with racers coming at you.
Tell us which section of the course you hope we'll never change.
I liked one of the new parts, shortly after the section I described above. There was a lot of turning and going up and over bumps. It was slow speed, smooth and technical. Kind of felt like you were on a rollercoaster. It seemed new, but I typically have a hard time remembering specific parts of race courses, so maybe it was there last year and I don't remember it.
Also, in the opening couple of miles, there was a downhill section that had berms on the turns. I don't remember the berms in the past. Me likey downhill berms.
Did you preride the course? How much of it? Was the map up early enough to preride?
Did not preride.
Did you get lost? Where?
Yes, yes, and yes. Got lost big time going through the campground. Got lost again about 5 miles later when the trail spit out on the road and I missed the arrow dictating which direction to go on the road.
Was course congestion an issue? Were you able to pass when needed?
Passing is part of mountain bike racing. Not an issue at landmine.
Do you like the course length? Was there sufficient variety of trail?
Right now, I liked the course length. While racing, I wanted it to end sooner, but this is how I feel about every race. Don't change the length.
If we had sufficient course before the first bottleneck would you like to have a mass start of you category? Or should it still be just your class?
The mass start should always be avoided when possible, specially at popular races like landmine.
Was timing sufficient? Was there an error in your timing?
Were directions to the start clear?
Did the scheduling of everything, from registration, to the start, to the finish, work for you?
Was the food offered after the race good and reasonably priced?
Anything in particular you want to see on the website before the race?
Trail conditions? But that's just because I tend to over-think tire choice.
Would you enjoy a post-ride party that includes a live band? Are you a rider who is just going to go home regardless of the post-ride activities?
If you can party after the race, you didn't race hard enough. I prefer a mellow post race atmosphere.
Would you like to see family activities other than the kids’ race and the bouncy house?
No opinion, I'm not the target audience for family related activities or questions.
If you have done the race in prior years, was there something you liked that we may have done in previous years?
No t-shirts in my size! ARGH. The tshirt design was awesome too. My 2007 landmine tshirt is still one of my favorites. I was bummed out to see you didn't have any of this years badass design in my size. I have learned my lesson though: Buy the shirt before the race, not after.
Did online registration go smoothly?
Did your registration process go smoothly on ride day?
No, why was pre-reg the only desk with a line, shouldn't it be the opposite?
Was the race a good value?
What class/category did you race at Landmine?
Cat 1 30-39.
If you didn’t, would you ever race the marathon race? If you did, why?
I haven't, mainly because I want series points and train and race exclusively 2-hour XC races. Marathons aren't my strength or focus. However, if landmine was only a marathon, with no shorter option, I Would happily race the marathon.
Have you ever done a race longer than 40 miles?
Yup, Darkhorse 40. (does that negate my last answer?)
How many other races did you do this year?
Ummmmm. 16 i think. Around there. Tons, probably too many.
How far did you travel to race landmine?
Were you here to race, or here to ride?
I wanted that damn golden bike.
What was the driving factor that motivated you to do this race?
(just now realized I didn't answer this question in the original email. not sure why, probably just overlooked it while looking for the part where I could suggest wrong way signs.)Other comments?
Yup. You need to put up "Wrong Way" signs after intersections. Wrong turns are going to happen, it's nice to know immediately that you have made a wrong turn, instead of riding for a few minutes hoping to see an arrow, and finally realizing you are way off course. EFTA races have a simple X sign as their wrong way indicator, they are the same size as the arrows, and they can save the day. It's hard to catch every single arrow of a 25 mile course that turns as much as landmine. If you put up wrong way indicators, it makes wrong turns a non-issue. I like to race at races, this year landmine felt like half race, half orienteering; I put as much effort into staying on course(unsuccessfully) as I did into going fast. I like races where all my effort is put into going fast.