Motorcycle Volunteers at the Melbourne Ironman Event March 2014
Watching bicycle races in the wee hours piqued my curiosity about the motorbikes conveying officials and media and that went further when I was contacted to see if Ulysses members would be interested in assisting at the Asia Pacific Ironman event in 2013. I responded and we did it.
I was again asked to organise motorcycle volunteers for the event on Sunday 23 March 2014. The reward (beyond enjoying doing something quite different) was that the organisers would make contributions to charities nominated on our behalf.
I contacted a number of branches and thanks to Ulysses members from Melbourne, Mornington Wanderers, Shearwaters, Two Bays and Yarra Ranges plus some unaffiliated people we provided 30 volunteers. Some members of the Orange Knights (SES) also participated to arrive at a total of 36 motorcycle volunteers.
We had a briefing at Frankston on Saturday 22 March, where we collected fuel & meal vouchers plus volunteer T shirts and official bike placards indicating our roles.
Bill looking resplendent at the briefing. Note his descriptor - Lead Male
Assembling for briefing at Mechanics Hall Frankston
We then reassembled at 7.30 am on the Sunday morning. Our tasks were to convey some 20 technical officials throughout the bike leg of the event (180 km up and down Eastlink), convey media personnel (mainly conveying still cameramen and the like) plus mechanics and also motorcycle escorts for the leading participants.
Assembling at Penalty Box in Playne Street Frankston. There were quite a few ST 1300s
The bike leg was a time trial and is very technical in that cyclists were not allowed to draft each other nor block each other. As there were about 2500 entrants, this required rigorous enforcement by the technical officials we had on board as pillions to stop groups forming. Quite a bit of cajoling and a number of time penalties were handed out and most of us were out on the course for up to 5 hours with minimal breaks before the bike leg ended and many (including me this year) finished their duties for the day and quite a few of us then met up for a late lunch (provided by the organisers) and a “debrief” at a café in Frankston.
Competitors doing it hard and some visiting "the Penalty Box"
Some volunteers conveying media, escorts plus some technical officials then had to continue throughout the “run” leg which was a full marathon from Frankston
Refreshment station on the foreshore on the run leg. Photo by John Kingma
to St Kilda and that provided more challenges as it required extremely slow riding whilst negotiating traffic along Nepean Highway and Beach Road.
Photos of finish line in St Kilda by Bill Dusting
Once the event started, we really saw very little of each as we spread over the course. I found it very interesting, challenging and enjoyable and have received feedback that many other volunteers also did.
Although fatiguing, I thoroughly enjoyed the event and I would like to thank all the people who volunteered and made the event possible. Many have indicated that they would do it again.
I would also like to thank USM (event organisers) for the donation of approximately $3800 split 50/50 between UCARF and Very Special Kids in appreciation of the efforts of volunteers representing Ulysses branches.
I will quote the Event Operations Manager’s response,
“Thank you for your assistance over the weekend. It was a spectacular race and all reports thus far have been extremely positive. Please pass on my gratitude to the riders that you both provided as they did an outstanding job. Carl”
I will also quote some comments from the volunteers who made this possible;
“I had a terrific day and really enjoyed myself.”
“I had the best day on Sunday, got to see the race up close and ride my bike places I never would normally. My TO and I get on really well and are booked in for next year and many into the future. …full credit to the organisers. I have no idea how they manage to pull it all off.”
“Felt tired but ok when I got home about 5. Don’t remember much of the TV on Sunday night though! Pulled up ok yesterday, so that was good. My pillion was great. We got on well, he got on and off the bike well and did not ask for anything stupid. Good bloke, happy to have him again next year. Liked doing the live spotting, the day went quite quickly. All in all a good day. “
“I thoroughly enjoyed the day. It was less demanding than the constant moving up and dropping back with a TO on the back. All I had to concentrate on was keeping my distance from the leader. The lack of a break during the ride was more than made up for by the early finish and I even used my food voucher this time!”
Several volunteers did have problems getting onto Eastlink both before the event and re-entering to get to the fuel supplier. Communications and meal arrangements still have room for improvements and we hope to rectify these issues next year.
#5048 Melbourne Branch