Volunteering as a Bike Mechanic for the Tour de Cure

My alarm went off at 6:30 on Sunday morning. I had all my tools ready, so I threw them in a backpack, grabbed something to eat, and headed out the door. A few blocks away I picked up Dan, who had also volunteered to be a roaming bike mechanic for the 20th Tour de Cure.

We arrived at Saratoga Springs High School and met up with Brent, our contact there. We got bright yellow t-shirts that said we were volunteers. He split us up; each of us teamed up with a radio operator and a vehicle, and around 9 we were off.

There were a lot of cyclists there. I heard rumors that there were 2000. When you have rides of different mileages, you get a lot of different people. Obviously the vast majority were racers in full kit, but I saw some people on trikes, some nice cruisers, young guys on mountain bikes, and a lot of kids. They took off in waves, and it was impressive to see so many cyclists.

Dave, my radio guy, was a real pleasure to work with. He was very familiar with the area and had a lot of great stories. We were “Roamer 2”, and we patrolled Area 2 in a donated Nissan Xterra.

I don’t know why they gave us a mammoth SUV to drive around with cyclists, and I told them as much. Of course, event coordinators understand that, but Lia donated the vehicles and they probably just wanted to show off something shiny.

Most of what I did was pump up tires. People who had problems would notify anyone with a volunteer shirt, who would notify control, who would notify us to go help them. By the time we got there to help out, most people had already swapped tubes. We usually showed up just in time to pull out the big air pump and wrap things up.

I did have to tinker with a lot of kid’s bikes. This is my only real judgmental complaint. I don’t understand why people ride a department store kid’s bike 25 miles, without tuning it up first. That’s got to be brutal. The nice thing, after helping them out, was looping around through the route and seeing these kids still on the road, pedaling away.

It was interesting to see all the cyclists riding on roads with cars. Despite being told to follow the rules of the road, most blew through stop signs and red lights, and often look the entire lane making it impossible for cars to get by. At one point we had to tell some people to get out of the lane for oncoming traffic. There’s a lot of room for education at events like this.

After a few hours of that we got lunch. And ice cream.

I had a good time. I don’t consider myself much of a bike mechanic, but it was really nice to help out, even with my meager skills. Maybe next year, the ABC can send more than two people.

Written by Ethan

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Filed under Activism, Events, Volunteer

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