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What I learned at the Cycle Challenge, and my tips on being a volunteer

40 years of crazy people doing laps around a huge lake

Back in 1977, a bunch of mates decided to bike around Lake Taupo and each year since, more people have joined in.

The event has grown and grown, is run by a fantastic team with the support of the local Rotary group who have formed a trust which takes the profits of the event and recirculates them through the Taupo community.

Over 800 volunteers get together for the weekend to support people wearing lycra by choice get around the lake, some up to 8 times!

Why I volunteer with the Cycle Challenge

It's not what you know, it's who you know.

My old man is a cyclist, and he was lucky enough to win a spot prize a few years ago and got to know the LTCC team. I was studying event management at the time, and he suggested I get involved. Haven't looked back! I really enjoy giving back to a community run event which directly benefits a passion of my Dad's.

My responsibilities have included:
  • Run sheets
  • Writing scripts for MCs
  • Briefing MCs
  • Facilitating the logistics behind showcase events
  • Collecting data for publication
  • Facilitating elite prizegivings
  • Producing the main prizegiving
  • Solving lots of problems, quickly

My advice on volunteering

Many people don't realise the huge cost of running events - your entry fee or registration fee usually does not cover the costs of the event. Events need sponsorship - but that's a whole different topic altogether.

If you're thinking about volunteering with an event, I suggest you do some research before you commit:
  • Is it community run?
  • What happens with the profit?
  • What are they asking volunteers to help with? Should that really be someone's paid job?
Personally, I choose to only help with events free of charge if the event gives back to the community, I am passionate about the cause, or it will give me a chance to learn a new skill.

Your time is valuable.

What I've learned along the way

The Cycle Challenge celebrated 40 years and I celebrated 3 with the Media and Communications team.
Here's some things I've learned in those three years:
  • Taupo is full of people who are just willing to pitch in and help. Over 90% of cyclists come in for the event from outside the region, almost doubling the population of Taupo in the process! The residents welcome you all with open arms, cheers or support and those drink stations where you most need them.
  • There's no point getting frazzled about things that are out of your control. Take a step back and think about how you can solve the problem, then get to work!
  • The people that work behind the scenes do just that - work. Hard. And all for you. Thank them. Chances are, they're volunteers!
~ Bronnie

Check out the Cycle Challenge website and maybe even consider becoming the named sponsor (they're looking!) or read my blog about securing event sponsorship.