Why I Volunteer for the Back Roads Century

Thursday, March 8, 2018

by Catherine Kitchell

Dale Hunt and Catherine Kitchell on tomato sandwich duty at the Back Roads CenturyThe reasons to bike are many: being in fresh air, to get places, to see the world, the sense of freedom, to save money, plus, a reason to wear lots of spandex! The reasons to join a club are many also: meeting new friends; a chance to socialize; gaining new skills, knowledge and experience; and getting to know your local community.

So now that you have all that under your belt (or your tight spandex), it’s time to take it up even one more notch and volunteer for the club and sport that have done so much to improve your life! Like biking, volunteering is healthy and actually increases your happiness. It also increases your sense of pride and identity and contributes to your sense of accomplishment and self-confidence.

Fortunately, your club is able to provide you an excellent event – The Back Roads Century – tailor-made to bring you chances to give back to your biking community.

I volunteered to make tomato sandwiches way before it was even The Back Roads Century. The first time I ever made a tomato sandwich was with Ballard Troy – the inventor of the tomato sandwich for PPTC centuries when the century was in southern Maryland. (I welcome anyone letting me know how long ago that was!) Ballard was a tomato sandwich purist – the sandwich consisted of bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, salt and pepper and only Hellman’s mayo. He made them deliberately and carefully – it mattered not to him how long the line of spandex-clad cyclists waiting was – each sandwich was a little work of art. The tomato is actually the crucial component and he was very, very picky about the tomatoes. Since then, I have made them in Berryville and for at least 3 years in WV.

So what have I gained from volunteering all those years? More flexible management skills – if the person assigned to making sandwiches is obviously unskilled with a knife, well, reassign them to Gatorade duty. The sandwich itself has gone through changes but I’ve determined I can live with hummus on them instead of mayo. (Though I am as inflexible as Ballard on the subject of Hellman’s.) If you get little paper salt and peppers delivered instead of shakers, send someone out to the store for shakers. If you get 30 gallons of hummus delivered instead of smaller containers, well, divvy it up. If the food inspector does not like your set-up, well, change it.

I’ve certainly gained a sense of community and comradery. In addition to club members and their spouses helping, I’ve had super friendly people from Shepherdstown helping including college and high school students – my favorite was a chef from Shepherdstown who was a godsend. Everyone works tirelessly during the rush – once it gets going it’s a sight to behold – talk about working in the flow state!

Then there is the feeling of accomplishment. Everyone who completes the Century certainly feels it, but let me assure you there is a huge sense of accomplishment making tomato sandwiches for some 1,200 bike riders! All non-bikers I know generally think riding a Century is crazy anyway, but making that many sandwiches is impressive – apparently in a non-crazy way.

Finally, there is a sense of awe. Really it is awe-inspiring if you think about The Back Roads Century and all the time and work that goes into it. Help your club and be part of the inspiration and the awe!

CLICK HERE to volunteer for 2018 Back Roads Century and get a $25 Registration Rebate!

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