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Volunteer Spotlight

This month we’re shining the spotlight on the site team. If you’ve never given any thought to the fact that when you ride into town, a sprawling Cycle Oregon camp/city awaits you, stop to ponder what it takes to plan and execute putting up, taking down and moving all that stuff every day for a week. Barnum and Bailey’s got nothing on our crew.

We talked to site team members KJ Edmonds (pictured at right with the orange sleeves), Bill Oyen (pictured at right, second from left), Sharon Ewing-Fix (pictured below, front row in light blue shirt) and Doug Tedrow (pictured below, front row in hat). Because we asked questions of four different people, we’ll give you some samples of their answers.

What is your role on Cycle Oregon, and how long have you been doing it?

Bill: I work with the site team. This will be my third year.

Doug: Site team, which involves setting up and taking down the camp, as well as responding to the needs of cyclists and volunteers once everyone is in camp. Including this year, I will have worked the Week Ride five years and the Weekend Ride four years.

How did you come to be involved with Cycle O, and has it evolved over time?

Bill: My son volunteered for several years and told me about the event and all the good that it does, so when I retired and had the time, I also volunteered. It is a lot of fun and a great bunch of people to be involved with.

Doug: I just decided to volunteer near the end of my career and have done it ever since. Cycle Oregon has been about the same for me each year, however each day presents unique challenges that must be responded to.

KJ: Started as a local volunteer when CO was in my area… felt so very welcome that I wanted to be more involved.

Tell us the details of what you (and your team, if applicable) do.

Doug: First, manual labor. Laying out the camp site according to a designated map, pounding steel stakes for signs and 20-foot-tall flags, hanging sponsor banners in a conspicuous place, placing sandwich boards for directional signage, hauling and refilling coolers with water, soft drinks or chocolate milk, installing bike lines (a temporary bike rack constructed of steel stakes and vinyl rope), cordoning off no-access areas, acting as a gatekeeper (sentry and traffic cop), designating spaces for vendors, stage entertainment and other support personnel.

KJ: Set up the site and manage logistics for the gang to arrive. Move in a small city and leave 24 hours later with a very small footprint.

What skills or traits are important in your role?

Sharon: Flexibility, be a team player, be willing to work hard.

KJ: Be able to multitask and work under pressure. The work with CO is much like disaster management.

Why is what you do important for riders, and how does that impact your approach to doing it?

Bill: Without the site teams, there would be no camps at the end of the day.

Doug: The riders would not have a usable camp site without the site team. You try to make the camp site convenient for the riders, while trying to avoid confusing directions and trying to avoid unnecessary work.

What would a rider be surprised to know about what goes on behind the scenes on Cycle O?

Bill: That along with the hard work, the volunteers probably have as much fun as the riders – without the sore butts.

Doug: It takes 1-1/2 days to set up a site and half a day to tear it down. There are two site teams that leapfrog every other site in order to have a finished site ready for the riders each night.

KJ: That many of us use vacation time to take care of the riders, for no pay. The “thank you’s” are our reward.

Why do you keep coming back?

Sharon: I keep coming back because I really enjoy working with my team, and because I really believe in CO’s philosophy of giving back to these communities.

Bill: It’s like a working vacation. I get to work with some great people, and I get to see a lot of great places a lot of people never see.

KJ: I’ve become part of the family.

How would you describe Cycle Oregon as an event to someone who’s never heard of it?

Bill: A week-long rolling party through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

KJ: A group of nearly 3,000 like-minded persons who join together for a week of blood, sweat and tears, with big grins, knowing that in a small way each of us is helping a community.

What year has been the most memorable for you, and why?

Sharon: I have thoroughly enjoyed each year and each site. Every year when the week comes to an end, I think this has been my favorite year. I am just still totally amazed that CO can pull off such a wonderful event year after year after year.

Doug: Finding another brewpub in northeast Oregon, seeing the wheat country in southeast Washington.

Is there a host town that really made an impression on you? Why?

Sharon: One that stands out to me was in Mitchell. I loved the community volunteers. An older lady was in charge and none of the volunteers were young, but they were delightful and they worked as hard as any I’ve seen. I also enjoyed Waitsburg last year. I had fun passing out milk with some of the special-needs young men and women. One young man had such a good time that he decided he wanted to be a milkman when he grew up.

Doug: Elgin. The friendliness and sincerity of the people, the opera house, the old-fashioned “tasty freeze,” the local tavern.

KJ: Halfway… they opened their small community and their hearts to welcome each of us.

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