|Dolgellau Control, King's YHA hostel, Bryan Chapman Memorial 600|
Alberto registered for this legendary 600 in Wales early in the year to be sure he got a spot. When Ritchie, the organiser, put out a call for helpers, we figured it made sense to go to Wales together--I had nothing else planned and it would be good to be able to do my bit for the audax community.
A 4:45am wake up and we were heading across the Severn Bridge from our Travelodge to the start in Chepstow. Alberto picked up at his brevet card and I made myself known to Ritchie and went to work in the kitchen helping his wife Claire serve up teas as nearly 150 riders descended on the tea station at exactly 10 minutes to 6.
|The bag drop area -- I have to admit I strategically placed Alberto's red drybag so it would be easyfor him to find.|
Once the riders were away, our team of Andy (an LVIS rider who decided not to ride the BCM), myself, Ritchie, and Ritchie's daughter packed the van with riders' bag-drop bags and headed out to Dolgellau. Soon we were passing a long train of audax riders on the road and I got a special boost seeing Alberto pedalling along looking strong. I also gained a new appreciation for how annoying it must get for drivers with no connection to the ride to have to thread their way through an endless stream of cyclists!
We got to the town of Dolgellau and had breakfast at a caf before heading up to the youth hostel and getting everything set up. The riders would come through Dolgellau twice, once at about 200km into the ride and then again at 400km. Since most would sleep after 400km this meant we needed to be set up to feed riders three meals, and that we'd be have riders to look after pretty much nonstop from Saturday afternoon until Sunday morning. We also had to make up the hostel beds for the overnight stop.
|How much bacon do you need for 150 riders?|
The hours passed quickly once the riders started coming and the only real thing that 'happened' was that Alberto arrived, with fellow Spaniard Javier, at about 4pm. It was great to be able to give him food and hear how his ride was going. He arrived just ahead of the main mass of riders so I was back to the kitchen pretty quickly, where another few hours passed before the last riders went through at about 7pm.
|Dolgellau control early in the day when things were still quiet|
We got all the food going again for dinner and soon enough it was back to the same routine. I went for a sleep at about 11:30, with the alarm set for 2am which is when I thought Alberto would be back. At 2am I woke up and went downstairs only to find that he had literally just arrived! So was able to serve him and Javier again in my slightly groggy state and, as before, then settled in to the busy period with lots of riders coming through. I set myself up mainly taking, filling, and serving the orders--I wish I had worn a pedometer to find out how far I walked running back and forth from the kitchen! I do know that my feet and legs started to get seriously sore overnight and I had to keep reminding myself that I hadn't actually done any cycling!
|The front garden of the Dolgellau control in the early morning light|
Alberto was up at 6:30 so I was able to look after him and Javier once more before sending them on their way. By 7:30 everyone was gone and we washed the dishes, stripped the beds, and packed up before the drive back to Chepstow by way of the next control at Aberhafesp where we delivered our unused breakfast food. We arrived just as Alberto and Javier were pulling into the control and for once I didn't have a job to do so I was able to sit and chat with them.
|Reunited at the end of the ride|
When I signed up to help on the BCM, I thought it would be nice to do my bit for the audax community, but I don't think I had many expectations in terms of whether it would be easy or hard, fun or boring. But actually I did enjoy myself (although it was very hard work). It was great to be back in the audax world after not having ridden many this year, and really interesting to see a ride from the other side. I have a renewed sense of appreciation for helpers and organisers now! And despite all expectations to the contrary, it has actually made me more interested in tackling longer distances, rather than less!