Being the selfless person that I am, I told Colin to put me down for “whatever, at any time” for Ice Weasels.
Which meant that to meet him in Somerville, I had to be out the door from Dover at 4:40 a.m., which also meant that I had to get up at 4 a.m. so I could have an appropriate amount of time to poop.
At some point Colin also asked me if I could announce.
My brain heard “announce”, but my ego heard “talk into a device that amplifies your voice and projects it across a farm”.
Obviously I said “SURE, WHY NOT?!?” I took a stab at “announcing” last year, but I got on the mic at 2 p.m. and I had my first beer at 8 a.m. So, in 2010, it was less “announcing” and more “trying really hard to string phonemes together into words”. But this year I decided that I would stay away from any intoxicating beverages until later in the day (eg, not 8 a.m.) and I was also going to not swear when on the mic, like a professional.
AND GUESS WHAT FUCKERS? I DIDN’T SWEAR ON THE MIC. But this is my website, so I can say fuckfuckfuckfuckityfuckityfuck all I fucking want fuck.
In addition to announcing, I realized that I could apply a healthy dose of Internet to the race, and livestreamed it on Ustream (if you want to subject yourself to it, you can see all of the broadcasted footage here). I think this was a pretty good idea, until my iPhone’s battery died (wait…broadcasting video and audio to the INTERNET is taxing on a mobile devices’ battery? Weird) and it had to spend some time perched on top of a table, plugged into a laptop, pointed at one point of the course right before the tall barriers.
Also, the phone left my hands a few times (it may have ended up in the race…) and some people were using it in “portrait” mode – so that was not my fault. Please do not punch me in the dick.
SO. I was set up, Internet-wise, and I thought I was being all professional by ensuring that I had a start list to announce off of.
Any semblance of professionalism went out the door as soon as the Cat 4 race started. I tried to, you know, talk about people based on their number. But as soon as I read their number, found it on the sheet, and started talking, they were long out of sight. Greg Whitney joined me on the mic, and I think the only saving grace was that he was there with me, and we went on many lovely jaunts down Tangent Road.
While I was flapping about like a dying bass, Paul Nixon (whose PA system we were using) would occasionally walk up to me and immediately read off ten numbers, tell me the name of each rider and a fun fact about them. Then he’d walk away, like he just schooled me in a rap battle.
Paul kept doing this all day.
Throughout the next few races, I tried to find my “voice”.
I discovered that heckling is a hell of a lot easier than race announcing. In heckling, you don’t have to ever have coherent thought. Every two seconds there is a new chance to say something random, and you can repeat yourself all day because the only people listening are those racing right in front of you, and the poor fools who decided to stand next to you.
When you’re announcing, everyone is listening to you, you have to be coherent, and you’re somewhat expected to share important information. Like the number of laps left.
I never knew how many laps were left, so I (and other guest announcers Kyle Bruley, Steve Hopengarten and…other people I shoved a mic at) just started guessing insane numbers and pretending that it was real.
I’ve always had respect for the announcers, but as I stumbled through every minute of the races on Saturday, my respect grew and grew (insert some sort of boner joke here). The amount of knowledge Paul Nixon was dropping, in between the refills of his home brew that he was handing out, was incredibly impressive. There is a reason why these dudes charge to come talk at a bike race, and a reason why I do it for free.
I started hitting my stride in the last few races – when people I knew were racing – and my announcing moved from “trying to act professional” to “officially sanctioned heckling”. At that point I realized that I probably would have just been better off talking nonsense into the mic from the get-go, as everyone at that race either knew exactly what was happening or didn’t give a fuck.
I did get a HUGE KICK out of announcing about Mark McCormack. I think I really may have blown an opportunity to get in some quality heckles against Mark…and ideally he would forget about my insolence by the time road season rolls around.
I finally had a beer at around noon (around the Men’s 3/4 race, if I recall), which would have been fine, but the only thing I had to eat up to that point was an egg and cheese sandwich. Then my guard was down, a 40 appeared, but I still managed to keep the announcing PG-rated.
I helped announce the Zank raffle, pulled the course down, got to Colin’s, talked to Steve, hung out with dudes, and wanted to stay awake. So I had half a french press and a Red Bull…and promptly fell asleep on Colin’s couch.
So that’s what happened. Announcing is hard, next time I announce I won’t try to be professional and will just say words into the microphone in whatever order I feel like saying them.