By Dana Bean
AngelRiders are amazing. They train hard and fundraise. They ride a LOT of hills in whatever weather they can safely manage.
Don’t get me wrong, they have a lot of fun doing it. They are positive, energized, excited people and I’m proud to be one of them. They are certainly amazing, but in some ways they have the easy job.
The kids and their families are AMAZING! They spend countless hours in hospitals and living with life-threatening conditions, yet they are without any doubt some of the most courageous and spiritually positive people I’ve ever been privileged to meet. When they show up along the ride route or at the start or finish of day one or day two – they shout and clap and thank the riders. It’s a humbling experience.
The volunteers…WOW! They start months in advance, planning and coordinating, checking the route to make sure that nothing has changed that would make it unsafe (and if so, they then find, map, and plan for the changes.) They plan for the thousands of other details necessary to make the ride such a “well oiled machine” when the day arrives.
And on the day…it’s a ballet! Volunteers arrive VERY early, so they can be ready when we riders begin to show up for check-in. The check-in crew processes the riders, and they never fail to thank us. Food is served, a safety brief is given, luggage handled – all by enthusiastic, happy people who are thanking us. It begins to feel that the thanks should be moving much more heavily in the other direction.
Riders and volunteers consume a LOT of food and drink. Somebody’s got to order it, take delivery, distribute it, then, clean it up once the parade goes by.
Luggage, bikes, people, tents, bike racks, banners, and countless other items. They’ve all gotta get picked up, and delivered to the right place(s) at the right time(s), and then that process has to be repeated – two or ten times! That’s a HUGE JOB!
On-course safety: Nothing is more important! Moto Crew riders are everywhere. They’re the first ones on the course, and the last ones off. They watch every major intersection, protecting riders from harm and helping riders with problems. They ride along, encouraging every rider and enduring whatever weather mother nature sends – rain or shine, hot or cold, always there for us. WINGS vehicles – ready to step in and assist a rider or bring one home if the day on the bike has to end too soon. Ham Radio operators – providing on-course communications so that if there’s a problem, volunteers can get there fast to take care of it.
Along the course, we never ride more than a mile without seeing a sign, ensuring that we’re on the right route, and providing encouragement. Volunteers have to place, then pick up literally hundreds of signs along the route to make that work.
Rest stops – making sure that every rider is accounted for along the way, providing food and drink, pickup service for extra clothing when weather warms up, rest facilities – all the while thanking the riders as if their’s was the hard part of the job.
Massage therapists at both finish lines, food preppers, musicians, people to do anything and everything else that needs doing, all the while cheering for, and thanking the riders, as if we had the hard job. It’s humbling. It’s overwhelming. It’s almost indescribable.
That’s really the theme of this whole piece. The riders are getting the cheers and the thanks, but the ride is the easy part. Volunteers make AngelRide what it is. Their hard work and dedication, their enthusiasm and meticulous attention to detail make them the most amazing group of people I’ve ever seen.