Newsletter - 2002 Archive

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Volunteers Pshaw!

Roger Street


Tour de France! Paris-Brest-Paris! World Cup! The Olympics!

What would an event be without the lowly volunteer? Preparation begins long before athletic training. Team spirit pales in comparison to the combined efforts of those who help just for the love of the sport. Organizational skills, culinary skills, dealing with people, crowd control, sleep management and 20/20 foresight. The 'athlete', purported star, trains for one event, one purpose, one shot at the golden ring. The volunteer deals with a seemingly endless stream of goal driven (but often wayward) athletes. The volunteer doesn't have the luxury of focusing in only one direction.

In advance, let's cheer for the volunteers who will make the Rocky Mountain 1200 Randonnee a proud Club event.

Starting 400K from home, our true volunteer star, Volly, will be asked to do much. Additionally, much will simply be thrust upon Volly. And, of course, much will be done because Volly is Volly.

Physically, Volly will be asked to arrive at one or more places on a 1200K course at a predetermined time, using transportation as available. Over the next four days, Volly will meet each of the riders, review the suitability of their preparation, promise to deliver their luggage more reliably than an airline, give them detailed routes and itineraries that Volly has laboured to prepare for the preceding year, send the riders on their way, monitor their progress and magically appear in front to meet and greet with open arms, encouragement and offers of food, drink and accommodation. The rider gladly accepts all. Volly likely accepts queries on five-star service at a wilderness motel. The rider heads for a place to rest. Volly waits for the next rider. Volly waves the final rider on his way, and, magically again appears in front to meet and greet, etc., etc.

Volly will hug smelly sweaty riders, will mix concoctions, will fill bottles, bags and pockets, will send to sleep and will awaken, will serve dinner at breakfast time and breakfast at dinner time, will collect soggy clothes, will shout 'allez, allez, bon route, bon route', will cheer all finishers and will console the broken in spirit or machine.

Volly pays attention to the individual. Volly will 'follow' each rider throughout the event, recording times into and out of each control. Information will be passed ahead to be used in estimating where and when Volly will again see action. The unfolding details will be centralized and become a story of places, distances and times to be avidly read by riders, friends and Volly alike. The event is the plot, the riders are the actors and Volly is always on the main stage.

A rider is a simple machine. Feed the engine, watch him go. But Volly?

Just a volunteer? Pshaw!!