Thank You for Volunteering to SAG (Support And Gear) for the Beach Cities Cycling Club!
By Randy Ross
What is SAG?
SAG (Support and Gear) is a support vehicle for the cyclists to carry water, snacks and bicycle repair equipment to ensure the cyclists have all they need to complete the ride. SAG also will carry a cyclist and their bicycle to the end of the ride in the rare occasion they can not finish for some mechanical or physical reason. Without SAG on a ride, the cyclists must carry with them all they need to complete the ride on their own.
What have I got myself into?
Don’t worry. SAG is fun and it is a great way to spend a day in support of cycling.
What will I need?
You need a car (SAG Vehicle). This is important. You don’t want to run after the cyclists on foot. Your SAG Vehicle should have the capability of carrying at least one bicycle. It is nice to have some identification visible on your SAG Vehicle, like flags or balloons. This will help the riders distinguish your blue ford from the others in the parking lot. You need a Cell Phone. Every rider will be given your Cell Phone number. During your SAG Experience, keep personal calls to a minimum. If you have call waiting, make sure you answer all interrupting incoming calls. Bring a few pencils, pens and paper. Bring a book or magazine to read. You need to bring your patience and your warm personality. SAG can be busy all the time or waiting all the time or something in between. The “S” in SAG is for support. Some of the riders are in the process of stretching their abilities far beyond their reach. Encourage them at every opportunity.
NOTE: If your car cannot carry a bicycle, check with the coach if they can provide you a Bike Rack. If you do not have a Cell Phone, check with the coach if a Cell Phone can be provided for you. Do this, before you arrive at the meeting place to start the ride.
When do I arrive?
You need to be at the Ride Start Meeting Place 30 minutes before the ride. The riders will fill your SAG Vehicle with water, sport drinks, food, snacks, bicycle parts, tire pumps and tools. There may be other cyclists starting a bike ride at the same location as our group. You can identify these “bandit” riders by their unfriendly personalities. Do not put the Gear of these riders into your SAG Vehicle.
The Coach will hand you a route map and indicate where they want you to provide SAG Stops. A SAG Stop is where you sit and wait for the rides. Make sure you know how many riders will participate. You will want to count them at the SAG Stop.
What is my job?
Today you are it, you are the man, you go girl. You provide your Cell Phone number to the riders who will write it down on their Route Map, but no one will have a pencil or pen. That’s why you brought some. You will stay at the Ride Start until all the riders have left on their way. Turn on your Cell Phone and close your trunk, which contains all the water, sport drinks, food, snacks, bicycle parts, tire pumps and tools. On second thought, open the trunk and take out a few of the cookies for yourself. Now, close the trunk, get in your flag and balloon covered blue ford and proceed to the first SAG Stop. Follow the route map to the SAG Stop. Even if you know a faster way to reach the location, you want to ride along side the riders as you travel between SAG Stops.
NOTE: Sometime the route takes the riders on secret bike paths or other places where SAG Vehicles cannot travel. Do your best to parallel these areas, until you can get back on the actual route.
Find a good visible place to park at the SAG Stop. Make sure your Cell Phone has a signal where you park. Find the nearest bathroom. You may not need it yet, but some riders will. If the bathroom needs a key from a GAS Station attendant or some other convoluted process, know the procedure to tell the riders. SAG Stops are short for each rider, but long for you. When the riders begin to arrive, they will appear excited to see you. They actually are not, but they want food and water. Have your trunk open, clap your hands as they arrive, tell them they look good and are doing a good job. Offer to help the riders, hold their bikes, fill their water bottles, tell them the bathroom locations, any procedure to enter the bathroom and get them on their way. Count the riders so you know when they have all past your way. The Coach will also know if all the riders have come and gone. After the last rider leaves, get yourself some more cookies, close the trunk and proceed to the next SAG Stop. Some rides contain “loops” and the next SAG Stop may be in the same physical location for you, but the cyclists will ride some 20 to 30 miles before returning to you. It is recommend you close up shop and drive the route returning to the location. The reason for this is to be on the road if a rider needs your help.
What do you mean “a rider needs help”?
There is no H for Help in SAG. In fact, there are 23 letters not in the word SAG, but that is another story. If your Cell Phone rings and a rider is calling you, they may have a flat tire, they may have a bike problem, they may have fallen and cannot continue. If someone is hurt bad, 911 should be called. Make sure you have their location and their name.
NOTE: You are not responsible or liable for anything you do or don’t do if the riders have an accident. Use your best judgment, call the Coach’s cell phones, call 911 if you think that is best.
If you are at a SAG stop, ask the rider if they can wait until you pack up shop. If they say no, call the Coach and discuss a plan. If you are on the road, drive to the rider’s location, open your trunk and let them select the water, sport drinks, food, snacks, bicycle parts, tire pumps or tools they need. If they want to go back to their car, they will load their bike into or onto your SAG Vehicle and get in. Use your judgment and determine if you should go to the next SAG Stop, perform the SAG support listed above and take them to their car after you close up shop. Call the Coach and discuss these options. Do your best to return the rider to their car and get back on the road to the next SAG Stop. And you thought you were going to read the book you brought.
What happens at the end of the ride?
You will have noticed that at the first SAG Stop the riders were pretty close together. Oh, there was that one thin rider that was there before you arrived and rode so fast all you saw was a red streak, but for the most part, in the beginning the riders are together. As the day wore on, the riders spread out. The last SAG stop lasted the longest, with the riders drifting in tired, wore out and eager for a break. Your encouragement, clapping and cheering, keep them moving and peddling. You now are at the end, the place you started. You have your trunk open. Riders come by and thank you for your support, collect their arm warmers, jackets and other items stripped off and tossed in your SAG Vehicle during the heat of the ride. They collect their left over water, sport drinks, food, snacks, bicycle parts, tire pumps and tools. You remind them of their great accomplishment today and encourage them to keep it up day after day, week after week. You wait for all the riders to return and the coach to thank you. All the riders have now packed up and left. You turn towards your car and have the sad realization that your SAG Vehicle is now just that blue ford you arrived in hours before. Your heart is full of the joy knowing you helped some very nice people. Your memory of this great experience will never fade. But, your car is no longer a SAG Vehicle, it's just a car. What a shame. You run over to the coach and ask to be called again when SAG Support is needed.