Jan and I have participated in three organized rides this year. One as participants, one as organizers, and on Saturday, the final one as volunteers to work rest stops for the Springbike Fall Metric Century.
This annual ride is just about the last organized ride for the year, starting and ending at Bois D’Arc school with a 100 kilometer (62 miles) loop. We were assigned to work Rest Stop #1 and then move to Rest Stop #3.
We got to Bois D’Arc a little after 7 a.m., and the parking lot was already filling up with riders in varying degrees of getting their bikes ready for the days’ trip. The school was open for pre-ride pit stops and because it would be used for the post-ride lunch.
We met Gary Ledford, ride coordinator, and he set us up with the needed supplies and a folding table. After getting our instructions and loading the car, we left the school around 7:20 and headed west to Hopewell Baptist Church for our first rest stop assignment. On the way, we passed Donnie and John, two riders that we know. They had left a bit early and were on their way.
Pete, from A&B Cycle had been assigned to work at the same Rest Stops with us. He is a likable guy who made us feel at home in our new role.
I noticed only one rider asking Pete for help with a possible tire problem. The rider was concerned that the tire was not holding air properly. Upon examination, the tire appeared to be ok and did not give any problems.
Bryan [orange jacket and I hope I spelled your name correctly!] was a roving SAG [support and gear] and he showed up with his pick-up w/bike rack to assist anyone in between the rest stops.
Soon enough the faster ‘outriders’ came down the road and we hailed them as long-lost comrades.
More riders a few minutes later hove into view.
At the stops, we provided two coolers of water, powdered Gatorade, peanut butter, cookies, bananas, apples, trail mix and granola bars. Oh yes, and hand cleaner and a trash bag! The only problem we encountered was the lack of bathrooms, but some of the riders found a way to solve that dilemma.
Like the towns of the old west, Pete had a ‘corral’ for the riders to park their bikes.
At our new location, we had a couple of visitors who were friendly enough. They stayed around for a while and then headed off for parts unknown.
Eventually, the faster riders arrived. They were glad for the chance to take a breather after the hills of Lawrence County. I got a kick out of the reaction from these riders when a couple of their friends went by without stopping. They hurried on to catch them with the laughing comment, “We can’t let anyone get ahead of us!” The hills were a constant subject for comment as the riders arrived. The ‘roll-overs’ stretched out the riders and they all arrived over a much longer span of time than they had arrived at RS#1.
We noticed a fairly large number of tandems. The teams were husband/wife and some of them had mic/headsets so that they could converse while pedaling. These three were doing the ride together.
Jan and I did not hear any discouraging words. The folks we met friendly and ready to talk with us at the drop of a hat. By helping at the stops we were able to meet each of the riders whereas if we had ridden, our contact would have been quite limited. We had fun listening to tales of cyclists drafting off of each other up the hills, various crashes, dog encounters, riding in cold, riding in heat, you name it and we heard about it. And loved it all.
Many riders thanked us repeatedly for helping out. Some made the comment that our presence made the ride possible for them. But it was us who felt blessed to be there.
Our thanks to Gary Ledford for organizing the ride and letting us help and also to Dave Christiano (I think) for the good lunch afterward. And thanks to Pete for regaling us with such good stories. Let’s all do it again, next year!