29 July 2013

Helping at the start of LEL 2013

(Editor's note: Some internet issues have meant we haven't updated in a while! All back to normal now so expect more posts soon!) 

Having made the decision not to participate in Audax UK's flagship event, London-Edinburgh-London 2013, we decided to help out at the starting control, on our continued mission to give back to the audax community.

Sue and Keith were in charge of the Loughton (London) control, and having ridden their National 400 last year we were keen to help out. Early Saturday morning, we cycled along the canal and out to Loughton, in Greater London. We arrived jsut before 9am, pitched our tent and got to work. Both of us were in the admin team, so we were registering riders, which was great as it meant we were able to interact with lots of them.

Registration in full swing
It was great to see riders from all over the world travelling to the UK for this event. I knew it beforehand, but seeing them all really underscored the fact that audaxing is a global community. Apart from the usual European suspects (from memory, plenty of Germans, Italians, Frenchies, Spaniards, Dutch, Danes, Swedes, Finns, Swiss, Slovenes, Austrians, Belgians, Irish, English, Welsh, Scots, Poles and Portuguese) we were delighted to welcome lots of Americans, Canadians, Japanese, Taiwanese, Koreans, South Africans, Uzbeks, Indians, Brasilians, Colombians... It felt great to be a part of it.

Taiwanese delegation
After the last riders were registered, all the volunteers had a meal together and then got to work prepping food for the following morning. It was really nice to spend some time with the 'senior' audaxers, most of whom had come down from Norfolk to support Keith and Sue. There are so few times when people of different generations interact socially, and it's something I really enjoy about audaxing.

Sue and Keith speaking to the volunteers
About that time, the expected rain finally came in droves, so we stuck around the school for a while to see if it would let up. When it didn't, I put on a bin bag poncho and Alberto took off his tee shirt, and we ran to our tent where we had a pretty good night's sleep, before our 4:45am wake up call.

Double human chain to load the bag drop bags into the van
Just a couple baguettes
We got to work helping get 1,000 riders on their way to Scotland. Alberto moved around between the tea and cofee area and helping out with the mechanics, and I was stationed in the luggage store, where riders were storing all those last minute items they had decided not to carry.

In the luggage store area
Chief mechanic hard at work
It was great again to interact with so many riders. The riders left in waves, starting at 5:30am and going until 10:30am. Actually, the last rider left a bit after 10:30, which was a good few hours after his planned start time, due to his rack breaking and having to take a trip to Halford's to get a new one!

Keith sends off the second starting wave at 6am
The last rider to leave (from France) after a crowd of volunteers helped him with his rack

All that was left after the last riders left was a bit of tidying up, and we packed down our tent and were on our way back to London in the early afternoon. It was unexpected, but we were both feeling a little bit envious as we headed back to our warm bed, thinking of the riders out on the road tonight and possibly for the next four nights.

Cleaning to hall for the arrivee

But being able to help out and do our bit for the event was definitely the next best thing to being out there. The number of volunteers who contribute to an event like LEL would be unfathomable in lots of other sports, from the people who plan for years to make the event a success, to those like us who turn up on the day to help out, audaxing is all about mutualism and a spirit of cooperation, and that's one of the best things about it. Anything we can do to keep that spirit going is time well spent.

And they're off!

1 comment:

  1. This is lovely!!!
    Thanks from the Norfolk n Good team