Tuesday, June 12, 2012

New Jersey 400k - Volunteer Pre-Ride

 Without even a full week passing I find myself undertaking another long ride.  In keeping with my annual obligation to organize a brevet for my fellow New Jersey Randonneurs, I agreed to pre-ride the 400k route just one day before the calendar event.  Accompanied by RBA, Katie, and volunteers Jon and Paul we would take to the roads at 4am on Friday.  We would need to be available to check-in riders at 3am on Saturday.  A 400k has a time limit of 27 hours.  In order to meet our obligation we would have a self-imposed limit somewhat shorter than that. 
Paul passing New Jersey crops
Jon and Katie would team up on the Co-Motion tandem, with Paul riding his geared Lite Speed.  I would keep the status-quo with the Jamis Fixed-Gear.  Things went remarkably well for us including good weather.  The route, mostly unchanged from the prior year, presented no problems.  The controls were all in place including a new control for the return through the Pine Barrens, The Green Bank Tavern.  Which turned out to be the highlight of the day, featuring a comfortable air-conditioned environment and wonderful food.  After spending about 45 minutes re-fueling there we were pleased to know this stop would be available to the riders the next day.  Sometime later we transitioned to night riding.  The temperature remained mild and we rode comfortably through the remaining wooded area to the penultimate control in Vincentown.  The final 35 miles were covered slowly.  Paul became dangerously sleepy and decided to nap in the protection of a school entrance.  He insisted we keep riding and asked that we call his cell phone in 15 minuted to wake him up.  Jon made the call from the back of the tandem while we rolled to the finish.  We arrived at 12:13 am with Paul finishing about 15 minutes later.
Jon and Katie at the deli just past Batsto
The train graveyard
Katie smiling through the Pine Barrens
 There would be precious little sleep time before our volunteer duties began at 3am, but it would have to do.   After two hours of sleep Jon, Katie and I would begin another long day seeing a group of 21 riders successfully around a 400 kilometer.  Paul would arrive later to handle the late night duty of the final finishers.  A task that required him to remain all through the night until 6am to greet the final finisher, a man riding a hand-cycle.   
Pre-ride announcements at 4am

Being the organizer, or volunteer, at a brevet is a time consuming but rewarding experience.  It's enjoyable helping others to meet their goals.  The riders appreciate the support and encouragement given to them by like minded folks who know what they are experiencing and how to help.  It makes quite a difference when a rider is having doubts about their abilities.  I have been on the receiving end of such encouragement many times.  It's nice to have a chance to give some back.  

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