Friday, March 6, 2009

The Tour Coordinator's eternal struggle

While Route Coordinator may be the "glamour" position of your typical bike ride, a bike ride is nothing without it's volunteers. And if there's one undeniable truth when it comes to bike ride volunteers, it's that there's never enough to go around.

Tour Dallas presents special problems when it comes to the route and the route volunteers.

Placing the route signs around the course, even one day ahead of time, would be a complete waste of time. Those signs tend to wander off by the next day. Also, the city of Dallas sign ordinance makes it illegal. So not wanting to upset the local law enforcement, we actually to not "place" any signs on the route. Any signs that we use for Tour Dallas are held by a route volunteer.

We do paint arrows on the pavement for Tour Dallas, but even that is problematic. It seems that there are some residence who live in the White Rock Lake area, that don't appreciate the subtle beauty of a properly painted route arrow on their local streets. These same residence are apparently not shy about calling their Dallas City Council representatives about said arrows. They either call their representative, or given that many of those same representatives are their neighbors around the lake, they just walk over and talk to them about the arrows. One thing has lead to the other, and suffice it to say, we do not paint any arrows around the lake. Given that we cannot place signs on the route, (see the previous paragraph), this means that every turn around the lake has to have a volunteer at it. (I'm getting a headache just writing about this.)

There are 75 turns that the riders must successfully negotiate, to get around the Tour Dallas course. That means that there are 75 corners were I would like to have a Route Volunteer. The words "like to have" are the important words in that sentence. I know going in that there is no way I am going to get 75 route volunteers.
If memory serves correctly, I think the most route volunteers that I have ever had to send out on the route is about 30. This brings me to the most important skill that a Route Coordinator can posses. That would be the ability to lie, cheat, steal, and/or intimidate the Volunteer Coordinator into giving you as many Route Volunteers as can be squeezed out of her.

The Volunteer Coordinator is the person responsible for recruiting the volunteers, and assigning them to the particular parts of the ride. Some of the volunteers will work the break points. Some will work at the start/finish area. Still others will work at rider registration. But the extra-special volunteers will be given the glory of working on the route. Those who are deemed worthy, will be sent to me, to be assigned a place of honor out on the route, assisting our valiant riders around the course. The difficulties arise between the Volunteer Coordinator and the Route Coordinator, over just how many volunteers should be deemed worthy.

My argument, which so far has been somewhat ineffective, is that it doesn't make a lot of sense to have volunteers working the finish area, if all of the riders get lost out on the route and don't make it to the finish. Same argument goes for the break points. What good are break point volunteers, if everybody is wandering aimlessly around downtown Dallas on their bicycles, and no one makes it to the break points.

I'm 6'3" tall, 195 lbs. The Volunteer Coordinator for Tour Dallas might be 5'6". Can someone please explain to me what kind of topsy-turvey world we live in, when I can't intimidate her into giving me all the route volunteers I want? It's just not fair.

It may surprise you to know, that a certain percentage of the route volunteers that we use for Tour Dallas are Community Service volunteers. Those would be people, who have been assigned by the courts to serve a particular number of hours doing community service work. Truth is, those are some of the most dependable, hardworking volunteers that we have. The only problem with these particular volunteers, is that we are forbidden to ask them what they did to get assigned to community service. I myself, have a real problem with this. It takes every ounce of self control I can muster, to keep from blurting out, "So what did you do?". I doubt we have any spies, or gangsters, or anything else cool like that working among us. But that doesn't keep me from wondering.

Aside from the community service volunteers, the majority of our volunteers are just people who enjoy serving, and enjoy being out and around other people. Being somewhat of a recluse in training myself, I really don't understand this point of view. I may admire it, I just don't understand it.

So the next bike ride you go to, try and take notice of those brave Route Volunteers standing by the side of the road. For they are the cream of the bike ride volunteer crop. While theirs may be a glorious task, it is not overflowing with rewards. The quick "thanks" that you shout as you ride by, may be the only reward they get that day.

Peace out.....Nearly Famous Fred

1 comment:

Joe Bicycle said...

Just curious.....
couldn't you recruit some help and bring them in on your own for your department without having to go through a volunteer coordinator?

Joe Bicycle.