Volunteer Profile — Bob Mathews
If you’ve ridden Cycle Oregon long enough, you may have heard the old-timers speak in hushed tones about a mythical imp named Morry, who tries to lure riders off-course only to vanish into the mist after about 5 miles. Thanks to the heroic efforts of Bob Mathews and the rest of the sign team, the Legend of Morry is little more than an old wives’ tale.
Bob has a very long history with Cycle Oregon. His first time riding was CO III. He also rode the event from 1999 to 2002. In 2003 he decided to help out his friend Jerry Norquist as a volunteer, and he has led the sign team ever since.
If you’ve ever ridden Cycle Oregon, you already know it’s next to impossible to get off-course. Each and every turn is preceded by three markers:
- A single pink arrow signals an upcoming turn
- Two pink arrows say the turn is just ahead
- Three pink arrows say you’ve arrived at the turn
Yet another marker after the turn indicates you’re on the right path. Beyond that there are signs that warn you of hazards, signs that portend water and rest stops, signs that provide encouragement, and even signs that stimulate brain function. Sign, sign, everywhere a sign – and that’s just the way we like it.
Like all members of his team, Bob’s day starts at 4:30 in the morning, when it’s time to head out onto the course to make sure the signs they so carefully put up the day before haven’t been messed with by local pranksters. After that’s done, they put up signs for the following day.
While he used to try to sneak some riding in after a long day of signing, Bob eventually decided to leave his bike at home. These days he prefers to hang out at camp and help with the many tasks that need doing, while watching the riders cross the finish line. At the end of each day, once he sees that all 2,200 riders have made it across the line, he knows he and his team have once again succeeded. That, along with the camaraderie he shares with the other volunteers, is what keeps him coming back.
Bob’s advice for new riders? Take a few minutes each day to review the map and ride profile carefully so you know what lies ahead. Of course if you choose not to follow this advice, there’s very little penalty – just read the signs.
This year, keep an eye out for Bob and his crew and say “thanks.” Because every time you see one of them, the chances of running into Morry are low.