First, THANKS if you’ve volunteered to help staff a control. The number one comment we receive about rides is how helpful and supportive the control volunteers are. You are greatly helping your fellow riders!
Communicate frequently with the ride leader before and during the event; they might have special instructions which differ from the below. Controls can be fully supported with food and water or semi-supported which involves only signing cards without the gear.
NER can reimburse volunteers for milage — note your car’s odometer before leaving for the control.
Control Operating Times:
The Cue sheet lists the time in which the control opens and closes. In most cases the control opens well before anyone would arrive so you need not be there at the opening time. Ask the ride Leader when you should plan on having the control ready for arriving riders.
As the control closing time approaches ask the ride leader if you should continue staying open for riders not yet arrived. We generally will stay open if the last riders are a few miles nearby. Make sure you don’t pack up the supplies until the closing time so that slower riders don’t miss out.
The primary task for a control volunteer is to certify that riders arrived at the control within the operatings hours. We record this information on rider’s Brevet card and on a check-in form provided by the ride leader.
When the rider arrives note the time and ask to see their Brevet card. Inside the card is a line listing your control location. Print your initials and the time the rider arrived (24 hour format) on this line. If the ride spans midnight, write the date as well.
Riders arriving as a group all receive the same time. In the highly unlikely case that a rider arrives before the control technically opens, make them wait until the opening time and only then initial their card.
On the control check-in form list the rider’s arrival time. We use these check-in forms to know where the riders are on the course and to verify the rider’s Brevet card if needed. For the sleep stop control we often have a rider check-out form as well.
On fully supported controls we’ll be providing food and water to the riders. You’ll meet with the ride leader before or during the event to receive the supplies. You might be asked to go shopping for the food. Should that be the case you’ll be given cash or immediately reimbursed. Save receipts.
See the Supplies Needed page to get an idea of what you’ll be providing.
If the control is in a parking lot, set up the equipment as far away from the store as possible so that you don’t impede the shop’s customers. Make sure the control is visible from the road so riders don’t miss it!
When you get to the control, set up the canopy if rain is expected. It helps to have a 2nd person when setting up the canopy — each of you holds the opposite leg as you walk backwards nudging the roof up as you go. Set up the folding tables and chairs. Tie a trash bag to one side of the table or the canopy leg. Put the hand sanitizer and a roll of paper towels on the table. Put one of the water pump spigots on a water jug and place it nearby.
Don’t open food packages until riders want those items — we’ll save unopened food in the storage shed. For fruit, wait until riders start arriving before slicing and serving. (Control staff can take home any extra fruit. I hope you like watermelon.)
The small tupperware kits of emergency supplies can remain packed up unless needed. If you have extra food for a 2nd control location later in the event it helps to keep this in your car.
Try to find out where the closest restrooms are located in case asked.
If you have drop bags for riders, put them someplace accessible and let the riders know were to find their stuff.
Part of the job of the control volunteers is to provide guidance for riders who might be hurting after having been in the saddle for many hours and are likely encountering more hills then they had expected. (NER rides are hard. No one ever remembers how much climbing there is.)
The control volunteers are not waiters but when you see a rider struggling you can sometimes really improve their spirits by offering them a place to sit and perhaps helping get them something to eat or drink. If a rider says they want to DNF, suggest they take a break, eat some food, and make the decision again in 15 minutes. If the rider still wants to abandon the ride, ask them how they plan to get home and call the ride leader to let them know about the DNF.
Controls can also suck up a lot of rider’s time so encourage riders to keep moving once they have eaten and taken a rest least they lose track of time.
Closing the Control:
You can close the control when the last rider comes in or when the ride leader gives the word. Try to pack all the gear neatly and separate the clean and dirty cutlery and serving plates. The gear will either be transfered to another control location, returned to the ride leader, or brought directly to the storage shed. Make sure the ride leader gets the check-in sheet.
If your control is late in the event you might be asked to drive the route back to the finish looking for riders. If you encounter a rider unable to continue, you can offer a lift back if you have the space in your car. Otherwise get their contact information and note where they are located. (NER dosen’t guarantee sag; riders need to find their own way home.)