Last weekend was the Tour de Steamboat. For those of you who haven’t heard about it or read any of my other blogs (!!) it is a completely volunteer event where all the profits stay in the Yampa Valley. There are four different rides that take participants all over Routt County, over Rabbit Ears, through Gore Pass, around the back roads of Yampa and back into Steamboat through the town of Oak Creek.
We have been preparing all year but the final details of the operation happen in the last week. Routes are marked, water jugs are filled, fruit orders are collected and aid stations are packed up. We have become a fine tuned machine – with a little added chaos every year that keeps us on our toes. This year it was construction on Yampa Street threatening to disrupt the start/finish. Last year it was tar on Gore Pass and the year before it was thunderstorms at Little Toots Park!!!!!! Add to that the Farmer’s Market, Triple Crown and multiple other Steamboat events. But we get through it with smiles on our faces and a skip in our step even after our 15-18 hour days!!
The major part of my planning is recruiting bodies to volunteer their muscles, know how, voices and most importantly their time to this event. It never ceases to amaze me that people are willing to donate their time to help out strangers. Strangers who ride the event, strangers at the event and strangers who organize the event. People of all shapes and sizes from all walks of life come out to help strangers who love to ride bikes in our town of Steamboat Springs.
I have volunteers who have never met me, yet come back year after year to help out this stranger. Some respond to my 5am call for help to unload fencing, some come back to run security at the BBQ, some to ensure registration runs smoothly and many return to the same aid station they have run for years. The lady who runs the Kremmling Aid Station, now her in 12th year, closes her station and drives the 116 mile course just to make sure quite a few hundred strangers riding the course have enough food and water. There is a family who donates their time at the Oak Creek Station then drive the long way home in a rickety old box truck to collect signs and close the course just so this stranger doesn’t have to go back out there after a long day. With out my crew of volunteer strangers the event couldn’t go on.
I think my favourite part of the event is watching strangers bond over something as simple as a riding a bike. The mpowerment they feel whether it is during 26 miles to Sidney Peak, 46 miles to Oak Creek, 66 miles to Yampa or the 116-mile around Routt County. I watch them stop and give other strangers a hand to change a flat, I watch them invite new strangers to ride with them in a pace line and I watch them cheer on strangers as they cross the line, congratulating each other on a job well done.
I am so fortunate to be apart of an event based here in Steamboat Springs that brings strangers from all over the country and all over the county to support other strangers and share a love of biking.
Thanks to the strangers who love me and help me out.