February 1st, 2011 by sprinterdellacasa

“A race for racers, by racers”

Although the Bethel Spring Series is an established spring training series, you may wonder how it got started as well as why. I want to give credit where it is due, hence this page.

About 10 years ago, Mike Hartley (a Cat 3, master bike handler, master mechanic, brilliant tactician, team player, and all-rounder) and Rit Gorman (now retired, former Cat 2, international class Masters racer) teamed up to run the first Bethel Training Series. The race was formed to be “A Race for Racers by Racers”. It was created solely to be a “true” training series – inexpensive, fun, and relatively safe (i.e. smooth pavement that is swept, no hard turns). The entry fee was $7.95 I believe, which included the then $1 insurance surcharge for the USCF insurance. Prizes were minimal.

The first year was dismal. I believe we barely had minimum fields and the race barely broke even. Even the second year, one week we combined the B’s (3/4’s) and A’s (1/2/3’s) to make a field of about 20 (?!).

Mike moved away and so the primary organizer of the race series disappeared. Rit always helped in the background, but he and his son slowly dropped from the bike racing scene. Before he left, Mike came to me and said “Aki, you have to run this next year, no one else wants to do it.” Well, of course not – it tends to be a thankless job. But I felt obliged, so I took it on and committed to making it the best training race possible.

Step in a spectacular sponsor in the form of Gruen watches. They donated a $100-200 watch for EVERY SINGLE RACE OF EVERY SINGLE WEEK! That is 40-50 watches for one Series! All of a sudden, we were able to offer incredible primes (they were all given out as halfway primes, with the nicest watches saved for the overall victors). We could advertise thousands of dollars in primes, and suddenly, the Bethel race became the race to race. I haven’t spoken to our contact about this page, but he (and she) know who they are, and they deserve, at the very least, an anonymous thank you and acknowledgement. They, more than anyone else, took Bethel to the next level.

Another long term sponsor was Spinergy, the wheel company, who consistently, year in and year out, gave us a set of wheels to raffle off at the end of the Series. A lot of people (both racers and people who help with the race) wonder why the wheels are raffled, instead of being awarded to one of the overall winners. It is because this is a race that flattens all categories. As a racer, you are equal in importance to the Bethel Training Series, whether you are a Cat 5, a Masters, or a Pro. The fees are the same, and, until 2002, the prizes were identical. We upped the minimum prizelist (by $25) for the 2002 3/4 and 1/2/3 races since they are the most competitive races. However, we did not ever want to rule out a “non-elite” racer from winning the wheels. So we made the “big” prizes into raffle prizes. Only if a sponsor insists on a awarding a prize to a field do we do so.

Finally, a company that helped us but is no longer around: Smart Fuel. They supplied us with leader’s jerseys and increased the competitiveness of the Overall Classification. Chris really stepped forward and helped out.

Some of the people who have helped in the past years include Mike Hartley, Rit Gorman, Wendy of the town of Bethel, Kevin R, Allan D, Rich K, Greg P, Ben H of FCI, Drew C, Mr C, Julie K, Joe B, Mandy B, Tom L, Josh D, Victor R, Mike S, Steve “Panasonic”, Brian R, Stacey S, Greg W, Gene L, Mark M, Art, the Yale crew, the Danbury Police Explorers, lots of random riders, and many, many more. Past official help has come from Dave and John & Adele as well our district representative(s).

For all the people that have helped out over the years and to all the racers that make Bethel the race it is, thank you so very much.

Aki Sato
Carpe Diem Promotions

P.S. Many racers at Bethel have disproved that this race is a thankless task, and I want to thank each of them for their positive comments about the race. They keep me going when the stress reaches critical mass.

2009 Addendum:
As you may have realized, Carpe Diem Promotions is technically standing down, replaced by the new entity Carpe Diem Racing, LLC. In 2009 the race will no longer be a not-for-profit event, which means that folks who run the race can pay themselves for doing so.

2011 Addendum:
Outdoor Sports Center has stepped in to provide much needed support at many levels. Welcome them and thank them for getting involved in bike racing!