The 46th annual Tour de Louisiane stage race is in the books. This was an interesting year. Lots of grassroots events like ours have been struggling, if not dying out entirely, in recent years. There was a time not all that long ago when I was contemplating adding more classes and categories. Lots of races were doing that, and with field sizes rising consistently it seemed like a good plan. That all started to crumble about five years ago. It feels like we’ve kind of bottomed out the last coupleThe 46th annual Tour de Louisiane stage race is in the books. This was an interesting year. Lots of grassroots events like ours have been struggling, if not dying out entirely, in recent years. There was a time not all that long ago when I was contemplating adding more classes and categories. Lots of races were doing that, and with field sizes rising consistently it seemed like a good plan. That all started to crumble about five years ago. It feels like we’ve kind of bottomed out the last couple of years, and it was time to scale back on a few things in order to scale the event to the expected participation. There were a few things that were clear, however. For one, we had some good venues that the riders really liked, even though the cost of securing them was getting pretty high. Also, although the field sizes were smaller than they had been at the peak, the level of competition was still as strong as ever. That didn’t really leave us much room for scaling back. We reduced the prizelist a little bit, and didn’t spend anything on free stuff to give to the riders, but what really made it work was raising enough cash to cover most of the venue and officiating costs. The NOBC Cat. 4 team had a great weekend of racing For a change, the weather forecast for the weekend was pretty good. Warm temperatures with no real chance of rain on Saturday, and a fairly low chance of rain on Sunday morning. We ended up with a hundred twenty something riders, which was pretty good by current standards, and I’m sure it would have been better if there hadn’t been the conflict with Tulsa Tough that pulled away a number of riders and essentially all of the Texas riders. I can’t remember another year when we didn’t have a single Texas rider. The road races went quite well. Sitting on the side of the highway for four or five hours can be pretty brutal when it’s hot or cold or raining or windy or some combination of the above, but in this case it was actually quite pleasant. Charles got some good shots on Saturday The humidity on Saturday was fairly low and there was a nice breeze that kept us fairly comfortable all day. Even the 5:30 pm time trial that always involves me standing in the sun at the start line for a couple of hours wasn’t too bad. Results went pretty smoothly, although I was surprised to find one Cat. 5 rider who didn’t know he had to finish the prior stage of a stage race in order to ride in the next. He kind of begged for an exception, but I really couldn’t allow it without opening up a whole can of worms. There were a number of riders who had DNF’d in the road race that morning and how would I explain letting someone who hadn’t even started it go ahead and ride the Criterium? Sunday’s criterium was pretty fun. As usual Robin did a ton of work getting the course set up with the Covington police and fire department and we got things started at 7:30 right on schedule. We kind of screwed up a little in a couple of the races when we didn’t pull some riders soon enough and they ended up getting lapped. Pulling riders after they have been lapped rather than before creates all sorts of problems for stage race timing. We did finally pull them once they were again separated from the pack that had lapped them, and we calculated their times as if they had been pulled on the lap during which they had been lapped, which seemed to work out fine. We had both Erich and Kenny doing the announcing for the big races, which worked out really well. They made a great team with the microphone. We’ll have to see if we can get a second mic next time, because I’d love to do that again. The results got posted quickly and by 1 pm or so I was on my way home via Starbucks where I stopped to email the results to the newspaper reporter who, just a little while later, texted me that he’d just had a blowout somewhere on the interstate between here and Atlanta and was going to miss the Sunday deadline. Hopefully we’ll see something in a day or two. In the meantime there have been a lot of nice photos showing up that I’ve been sharing to the Tour de Louisiane facebook group and LAMBRA page. I got results up on the LAMBRA and NOBC websites before dinner, so just some loose ends to tie up over the next few days and I’ll be ready to start thinking about the Deep South Dino Ride that Mike Lew and I have been kicking around for some time this fall. A window and a view! So this morning I rode to the new office on Poydras Street. Since they put in a bike lane on Tulane Avenue, a street that in the past I would never have considered taking, I had a nice twenty minute commute via the Jeff Davis overpass bike path, Tulane Avenue, and LaSalle Street, locking the bike up in the bike race in the building parking garage. This was fortunate because shortly after I got there it started storming and basically hasn’t stopped all day. The offices are currently kind of a mess. We’re using surplus furniture until the stuff we ordered arrives, presumably toward the end of the month, so there’s no incentive to take anything more than necessary out of the boxes scattered about the floor. On the plus side, I have a nice view looking southwest between the Superdome across the street and Benson Tower. On the minus side, it’s been freezing in here all day. Most of this floor is empty, so it’s pretty quiet, plus three of the people in our five-person office aren’t here. Right now I’m about to ride home in the rain, which at the moment is merely moderate rather than severe like it’s been most of today. I’m going to get wet, but the radar isn’t offering much hope for the foreseeable future. I guess I used up all of my weather luck last weekend.