Now is a good time to take a break from winter and begin planning those spring activities. Winter is peaking and cabin fever is setting in. So, looking forward to spring and summer activities, like bike rallies, charity walks and runs, is a great release.
These activities are possible because many volunteers dedicate their time, and often risk their safety, so that everyone can have a fun and healthy experience.
But, who are those volunteers we see as we navigate the course?
Let’s take a look at the Texas “Head for the Hills” Bike Rally, as an example. They offer 20, 40 and 60 mile cycling routes through the hills of Texas just south of Dallas. As you ride, you see local police officers within the city limits of the sponsoring town of Cedar Hill. These dedicated servants were up and coordinating their efforts before the crack of dawn.
Then, as you leave the city limits, you notice the pickup trucks ready to help you fix a tire or even take you back to the Start/Finish or the nearest Rest Stop to get personal attention. But, let’s use the correct jargon. Those pick up trucks are SAG wagons. We would properly say “they will SAG you back if you need assistance”. The debate remains as to what SAG stands for. Some say SAG means Support and Gear. But, others say no one is sure anymore. Does it really matter? They are there when you need them. That is what matters.
The SAG wagons are generally fitted with high-tech HAM operator equipment. If you were to have the chance to see Central Control back at the Start/Finish, you would be looking inside a trailer with monitors and sophisticated communications equipment. Several people would be writing things on a big MAP hanging on a wall. Central Control is exactly what you would think it is. Everything happening on the course is being watched and coordinated here.
Looking into that trailer, you would think you were observing a simulation of a disaster recovery exercise. But this is not a simulation. This is for real. The safety of the cyclists depend on this coordinated effort.
On the routes, you may also occasionally see a truck from a local bike shop. This truck is called a Technical Truck. It has all the equipment to repair the most complex Bicycle. Where a SAG wagon operator can do simple repairs, like pump up a flat tire, the Technical Truck can re-balance wheels and more. Local Bike Shops do this function for the charity rally as a volunteer service.
As you continue to cycle, you reach rest stops every ten miles run by more volunteers. The Rest Stops are generally manned by a church, a volunteer organization like the Rotary Club, or a local business.
First Aid Stations also reside at the Rest Stops. They are run by Community Emergency Response Team members, known as CERTs.
CERT is an integral part of the Citizen Corps, a grass-roots movement supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)…
CERTs are trained to be the First Responders in the case of a major disaster, such as a tornado. They are exactly who you want treating you if you are exhausted or injured during the bike rally event. They can administer first aid. But they are also quick to call 911 to make sure you have the best care you need. That is what they do – treat and triage.
So who is managing traffic as you ride through the rural routes? That would be a combination of volunteers and local police officers from the different towns along the route. The difficult rural corners will generally be manned by CERTs. The CERT is trained to assist the Police Department in managing traffic flow. However, the rider must be following the rules of the road, first and foremost. The CERT is there to provide assistance to the cyclist, but only a traffic officer can stop traffic.
The safety of the volunteers is as important as the cyclists’ safety. The volunteers are often in precarious situations. That is why it is critical that these volunteers have proper equipment to supplement their training for everyone’s safety.
So next time you are out on a Bike Rally, charity walk or run, wave to that volunteer and let them know how much you appreciate their service. They make it all possible.
If you are interested in the proper equipment that helps keep these volunteers safe, contact Traffic Safety Direct. We love to answer questions and share our experience.