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Lessons Learned: Patrolling a Race

Back in April, the OMBA Bike Patrol out of Ocala, Florida volunteered its support for the Hammerhead 100 mountain bike race, which had more than 200 entrants. Three patrollers volunteered along the 25-mile race course. Two of them rode the main loop while the third patroller stationed himself and his Jeep at one of the sag stops.

Among the three, they extracted two riders with dislocated shoulders, cooled down and led out one rider with heat exhaustion and searched for a missing spectator, who they found two miles away and provided water to, as he was dehydrated, before leading him back.

Frank Belaska, the director of the OMBA Patrol, passed along some of the valuable lessons his group learned from the experience:

  1. Have at least one patroller with a vehicle that can run errands or transport riders if necessary.
  2. When the weather gets hot, carry extra water and watch out for heat exhaustion. The rider with heat exhaustion that we helped was barely able to ride straight and was vomiting, but wanted to finish the race. It was still five miles back to the start, mostly uphill and exposed into the sun. After we started to cool him down, we talked him into letting us help him out of the race. He indicated later that he never would have made it and was grateful we were there.
  3. Even if a patroller can't ride or doesn't want to ride but still wants to help out, there is always something they can do that will make a major impact on trail riders, so don't discount enthusiastic volunteers!

Many thanks to Frank for sharing the experience. Submit your volunteer stories and lessons learned to patrol [at] imba [dot] com.

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