The TRF Volunteer's view...
What's it like to volunteer at the ABR Festival? Oxford TRF's Cliff Osenton is the man to ask. Head of route planning for the rides and scattered navigation, here's Cliff's thoughts...
The first aspect of route planning is to pitch the route to the group, in this case Adventure riders with mixed experience remembering I have never ridden with any of them before. Knowing the area helps a lot so I could pitch the trails to Adventure bikes & not Enduro, remembering the weather could change the grade of the route.
I tend to over plan with more trails than I need so I can mix & match as the day evolves. Checking & riding a route with a friend can often be done in a fraction of the time it takes to ride a route with a group, as there are always accumulated delays. Therefore the first rule is never to try to complete your max route, be prepared to drop sections if there is a rider finding it hard going but equally if the group are finding it all a bit easy have a few higher grade trails that can be fitted in, the best way of assessing a group is to ride at the back on a few trails.
Why I did it?
My reason for doing it was the enjoyment of riding with a new group, I have been leading groups on the Wessex Wanderer for a few years & other events. What I got out of it? Easy making new friends, I find riding with somebody works far better than simply clicking on a few unknown guys on facebook.
My view of the ABR rally?
It was well organized with plenty of TRF leaders with local knowledge to take groups out, organizing groups went well, although when some riders saw my son Iain on his 950 ride off a lot simply tagged onto him and had a brilliant time. On the Sunday after all the groups left, one rider arrived on a GS1200 after a short chat off we went and have a really good ride, we became friends & he joined the TRF & is now active in x3 groups.
Why TRF members should get involved in run leading?
Firstly you don’t need to be an Ace rider with a degree in map reading, I’m one of the slower older riders. I started helping out with the Wessex Wanderer watching other run leaders & leaning a few routes, followed by my son Iain a good rider but not so good with maps helping me out. Between us we soon evolved skills to take groups, often with a range of problems to solve that can’t be learnt from a formal course. To avoid the feeling of stress from getting lost etc use the old Army term ’ poor preparation = poor performance’, you often find a few of your group will be very experienced and can work with you to form a team approach.
Overall leading runs should be a positive enjoyable experience, it both improves your own confidence and is the best method of making new friends and networking with like minded riders.