• The Volunteers

    by  • May 3, 2011 • opinionate • 8 Comments

    Time flies quickly these days. In the fast paced and quickly changing scene that is NorCal cycling, it’s easy to forget those that help made/make it possible for us to race—especially those behind the scenes. So to those folks (like Casey Kerrigan, Robert Leibold, and countless other officials, promoters, etc) I say THANK YOU!  ~ Alden Tanaka

    Last week I helped Hernando run the Tuesday Night track race at Hellyer Velodrome.  I flipped lap cards and tried to score races.  The next day I woke up and could barely move.  I know this it totally pathetic but I think my back went out due to the stress of learning the ropes since I will be running some races in the near future.  I watched Hernando officiate, promote, and score the race all at the same time while taking complaints from the peanut gallery on a wide assortment of issues.

    It reminded me with my involvement with a large local club organizing their sponsorship issues.  I had brought some structure to a loose process, and though there was not much payoff I felt pretty good about actually making progress and being in the sidelines of the industry.  Of course it gave me insight into the make up of the cycling world that benefit from volunteers efforts.

    • 60% Thankful, but silent majority
    • 20% Thankful, and verbal minority
    • 15% Could do it better, have lots of advice, but are really busy so can’t help out right at this moment
    • 5% The Bat-Shit Crazy- (almost always guys too) who will hound you do death over both major and minor issues and generally make your life miserable, since they are themselves miserable, and have an ungodly amount of time on their hands

    I eventually quit both the position, and eventually the club, because dealing with the 5% Bat-Shit Crazy crowd was so emotionally draining the limited upside was no longer worth the rather large effort.

    Since April 1 I have had several people, in organizing positions, tell me about how unhappy they were dealing, or observing, issues that started out as simple organizational items, that became crisis which were effecting their personal happiness.  My advice to them is to quit, why suffer in a volunteer position, even for a moment.

    So here is the thing.  Think of all the folks out there trying to “do the right thing” in support of NorCal racing.  Officials, race promoters, club officers, regional association apparatchiks, photographers, and the Cat 4 35+ racers whose entry fee’s pay our way, deserve not a moment of your gratitude, but a huge weekly donation of it.  Do a gut check with your peers, and not just the ones you like, before you go after something you don’t agree with.  Nobody wants to be in the 5% Bat-Shit Crazy crew.

    If we loose up our work force we’ll end up a vapid and empty shell of bike snobs like New York City.

    PS.  This is a long winded way of preventing people from yelling at me if and when i screw up lap cards or race standings at next weeks Tuesday night race.



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    Former NorCal resident now residing in Madison,Wisconsin. I race cross, but I'm named after a velodrome. Support your local bike shop, NorCal race promoters, and go learn to race on a track. Hellyer Velodrome - http://www.ridethetrack.com


    8 Responses to The Volunteers

    1. roy
      May 4, 2011 at

      Very nice post, Bed.

      And it comes the day after representing the VSRT Wente Crit first and foremost with a picture of an ambulance (the only one of the day). Hopefully that comment doesn’t place me in the 5% since I didn’t intend it that way. We all have our moments of making someone else’s hard work seem to just earn criticism while the good results go lightly mentioned. I sincerely do thank you and others for putting in the time to keep Hellyer racing going and for taking time to keep norcalcyclingnews going too.

      I really appreciated all the folks who took time to pause and thank us wind and sun burned flag wavers in the corners last weekend. Thank YOU.

    2. TimB
      May 4, 2011 at

      If you flip lap cards, you will make mistakes. If you score a race or produce results, you will make mistakes. If you are in a race and KNOW that you did X and beat out Racer Y at the line – sometimes you’re going to get that one wrong. If you’re a mechanic, there’s going to be that time you tighten 26 of the 27 bolts on that bike and that one fails. So when something goes wrong, don’t go ballistic or fall into a funk: Instead ask questions, talk about it, and see what can be done.

      For those who race, good for you. Keep it up and we’ll keep on helping out. If you’ve ever got a question about a result, if you ask nicely that day the officials can often show you the video that proves where you were and who beat out whom at the line. It’s very interesting to look at finish line video – makes you understand all of that whining about number placement, crumpled and folded numbers, etc.

    3. donna
      May 4, 2011 at

      Great post and comments from Roy & TimB!
      We just have to keep reminding ourselves to step over,not in,the guano.

    4. May 4, 2011 at

      Helping organize a bike race weekend back in my collegiate days was one of the most eye-opening experiences I’ve had as a cyclist. Following that, I’ve always tried to make a point of thanking everyone involved in making a race run any time I go to one. It’s obviously not impossible as they happen every weekend but making everything work takes way more effort than it appears. Mistakes are inevitable but luckily, since this is just amateur bike racing right?, they’re also not really important in the grand scheme of things. Cheers to all the folks making the scene work, and to everyone that stays relaxed when things don’t go right.

    5. Chris
      May 4, 2011 at

      “and the Cat 4 35+ racers whose entry fee’s pay our way”
      No problem, glad to help out. One day I hope to win a pair of socks for my efforts, anything more than that seems to take away the point of amateur bike racing.

    6. Madison Partner
      May 4, 2011 at

      You speak the truth Hellyer.

      “I eventually quit both the position, and eventually the club” and let someone else learn the tough lesson of volunteerism.

    7. May 4, 2011 at

      Bed Turns,
      great post.

    8. Bill Nicely
      May 4, 2011 at

      Anyone doing any of these jobs deserves a hug or something, especially officials and promoters. I often hear thank you and that is great. If you can spare one or two hours volunteer as a course marshal or hand a cold drink to a course marshal or just say thank you and understand that no one is doing this for a living. Those volunteers are doing what they do out of love for the sport. If you see Ted turning cards please heckle. That’s how you show him some love.

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