Fred: Hey, lets raise some money for a charity with a charity ride.
Barney: Great idea, it should be simple enough...
And that's where the trouble began, lol.
It would be great if a charity ride was as simple as choosing some roads, creating a Facebook event, going for a ride and having a beer after. But it isn't. Let's take a quick look at what's involved:
First - the Date
Motorcycle riders are a generous bunch, and are always up for a charity ride. So the calendar can become a little crowded. The first hurdle we have is finding a date that is free, and doesn't clash with any other events around the area. And by area I mean a large area. As well as being generous, riders are prepared to travel to a well organised fundraising event.
Next - the Route
We run regular weekly rides. These are simple enough to plan, and are nothing like planning a Charity Ride. In some ways the route planning is the hardest job.
On average there are around 100 vehicles on a charity ride. That's 100 drivers with a wide range of skills and experience. So, those wonderful windy, challenging roads are out. The last thing we want is for someone to ride beyond their abilities and crash, bringing down other riders. Combine that with petrol stops for those unfortunates that have small tanks (and bladders) and a mid stop for refreshment, and suddenly there is a lot to consider.
And all of that is sandwiched between the start and finish points. Is there enough parking space for 100+ vehicles? Can we set up for merchandise and registrations? Will there be coffee?
(every Charity Ride is run differently, so I will chat about how RAC run theirs in this blog)
In amongst all of this is the Marshalling team. The team get together days before the event to pour over the planned route, finding every (well, almost every) intersection that will need a marshall. They decide if more than one marshall is needed, and what intersections will be problematic.
Then on the morning of the ride, they don their orange vests, leaving just before the pack for their first stops. Once the pack goes through, they follow from the rear of the ride. When the ride has paused at pre-designated regrouping spots, the marshalls move ahead, off to their next intersections. They hop frog like this so there is no need for them to speed past the charity ride to reach their next intersection.
On most intersections the traffic are more than happy to wait a few minutes as we go through, some even videoing the ride.
But there are always some on the road who feel like they are entitled to be impatient and decide to enter the intersection. I think it comes down to a lack of understanding with what a charity ride is and they think we are there just for our own benefit. We can re-educate some, but for others there is simply no cure for stupid.
And following this train of noise is the tail end charlies in their car and trailer. This is one of those jobs where you don't want to be needed, but they are there to pick up any breakdowns. We also have a map for people to photograph before the ride that includes the tail end charlie phone number in case they do manage to get lost.
Floating to the side are the photographers and videographers managing to find the perfect locations to capture the day so we can all relive it afterwards, thanks to the world of social media. Hey, photos or it never happened, right?
All those other bits
Riders are a bit like magpies, we love to collect trophies of where we have been. So each ride needs at least a badge, and quite often also a t-shirt. Add to that the fundraising raffles and registrations on the day, and the fabulous merchandise team is kept very busy both leading up to, and on the day of the event.
Sponsors and spot prizes are a large part of the fundraising, but they don't always appear out of nowhere...
Online registrations, posters, Facebook event, promotion - the web team are kept busy before the ride...
Then on the day it is left up to the weather and road Gods to keep away the rain and roadworks.
So, after all this... is it really worth it?
Taking the RAC fundraising on it's own, together we have raised over $10,000 in 12 months. That is just one group of riders. We focus on cancer related causes, but there are so many other charities out there that need a helping hand. If this means we get to ride with a group of good buggers and raise funds and awareness at the same time, then sign me up!
See you at the next one (I'll be the one with the microphone in hand)