Thursday 20th March marked the end of another successful Thursday night race series with a one lap individual TT.
For Catherine the Thursday night races start at about 9am every Thursday morning. After getting the Webb boys to school and doing the other jobs she has on Thursdays Catherine makes her first call to the shop to ask whether Jeff has the timings and groups sorted for the race that evening. Off to another couple of jobs before getting into Avantiplus where she follows up on the Thursday night race details needed from Jeff, who inevitably has been tied up with customers since her first call of the morning.
Whilst she checks in the inwards goods and follows up on orders that have arrived with no customer order form (which entails checking with each member of staff to find out who ordered it and normally ends up being that fella, you know the one! Or It’s Alan) she is updating the Thursday Race Facebook group and web site to make sure everyone knows that the race is still on and if it is to be called off it will be announced at 4pm through the regular channels.
Another check with Jeff on timings and groups is met with “I will do it while you pick up the kids” before she heads out of the door at 3pm to pick up the boys from school, take them home, food and homework before heading back to the shop to print and pick up the registration and sign in forms.
Back at work, Jeff has been busy with jobs in the workshop whilst dealing with queries from staff and taking care of the odd customer requests when Catherine walks back in the door at 4.30 in the afternoon, kids in tow, asking for the timings. “Too busy” is the response but somehow they both manage to pull off the impossible and get everything printed off and kids back in the car in time to leave the shop at 5.15 and be up at the hall for 5.30pm and the start of briefing.
Catherine arrives at the Kumeu Hall in time to open up, get the registration table out, money tin, race numbers, waiver forms and group forms ready for the masses to come. Her helpers for registration usually arrive a few minutes later followed by Sean to take out the cones for traffic management on this beautiful course around the lifestyle blocks behind Kumeu.
Registration, for Catherine, is not the happiest time of the day. Every second person wants to change groups because “it’s a big training week and the coach has told me to take it easy” or “I am not fast enough for that group”. Every time the comments are met with the same response. “Fill out the form for next week”. Then there are the ones that have opinions on who else is riding in their group “he shouldn’t be riding in our group, he should be the next group up”, yes, some said in jest but like I mention at the beginning of this paragraph, it’s ‘Every second person’
Once registration is over its on to the briefing.
“Please be safe out there”
“These are open roads so keep left”
“Don’t cross the centre line, you will be disqualified”
“Race director is ….. Any complaints speak to him”
“Be courteous to each other out there, if there are issues sort them out after, we are here to have fun”
“Drinks at the fireplace afterwards”
Next its time to grab the camera, pass on the start list to another kind volunteer and call up ‘limit’ usually Harvey and Benji (the oldest and youngest riders) and send them off! Each group comes up to the start line where Catherine then does another role call to
- Make sure everyone makes heir start time but
- Also to make sure everyone starts so if anyone has pulled out we are not looking all over the place for them at 10pm at night.
The role call is often stopped with “Please listen up and call out when you hear your name!!” Or interrupted by “hey, what’s he doing in this group”. To which the smily response is always, “we have it sorted, just ride your bike”
Last group off and it’s time to either move the finish line or keep the kids under control whilst waiting for the first riders to come through for the second lap. It’s also the time when we see the jokes come out of Catherine because all the testosterone driven cyclists have left our vicinity and the calm has fallen upon the start finish volunteers.
First lap finished and in 17 minutes the finish will be upon Catherine. As that time draws closer the more tension builds and the anticipation of a bunch sprint trying to spot all the numbers as they fly passed gets ever bigger. “Oh, who is this robber?” “Oh, it’s only that bloke who asked to move down a group because he was supposed to be on an easy week!! Arrow next to his name, up a group next week!!
As the bunch comes down to the finish line Catherine holds on to the camera shouting out numbers as she sees them with a supporter hurriedly scribbling them as she shouts! “Who was that, that crossed the centre line” a discussion follows “it was the bloke with the red Jersey and black shorts”. “There were four in the bunch with those colours”. “No, the one with the blue helmet”. “Yep, two of those” “ooh ooh ooh, he had a purple bike”.”ah, yes that’s so and so,” cross next to their name, DQd
“Car back, go single file please!!!!” Catherine shouts as the oxygen deprived finishers roll back down toward the finish line weaving all over the road whilst an irate driver is trying to get down to Kumeu for their pint of milk to finish off the cheese sauce for Thursday dinner. “Bloody cyclists” comes the shout with a finger out the window of the car as it speeds past and Catherine replies with a polite wave and a smile.
Waiting for the last rider to come through, all the time holding the camera, Catherine waits along with her other helpers for the night. Once the last beaten up cyclist gasping for air and a new pair off legs roles through its time to help pack up. Cones packed to the side of the road ready for the pick up trailer to role passed. Back to the start line to pack up the registration desk pick up the kids and head to the Fireplace for the weekly chips, cider and a debrief with the crew.
After about 45 minutes of socialising, the rest of the crew get into the pub after packing up the course cones and making sure the trailer won’t dump its load half way down Highway 16 back to the drop off point for safe keeping until they are needed again next week.
Around 9pm its time to pack up the kids, it is a school night after all, get on the road back home again. Once home though its bath and bed for the kids then get the camera out to try work out the top finishers for the nights race. (this used to be all finishers) By midnight there might be a few minutes to have a civilised conversation with her husband before packing off to bed to rest up before the school run starts again in the morning.
This is Catherine’s Thursday, give or take a few minutes here and there, every Thursday from the months of October through March but it’s not just Catherine’s story, its the story of all of the supporters of our Thursday night races. So, next time you are rounding ‘Postance Corner’ at the front of the bunch and you’ve got a breath to spare, please thank the helper or if you are speeding past Pomona like a runaway freight train lift a hand and wave.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all those that help out and I hope everyone else appreciates all the hard work these volunteers put in. Next year I am putting my name down for at least one volunteer shift if not a couple.
And, Catherine, I will try to remember to fill in my order forms and promise to stay in the group you put me in. 😉