MFS spoke with Nicholas Kempin, a volunteer coordinator with the USA Pro Challenge about wrangling and organizing support for the race; here's what he told us.
I'm actually just in charge of coordinating the finish of Stage 03 here in Aspen today. Gunnison, the start, had its own set of volunteers, and then the race comes here, where we have our own set of volunteers. The planning starts about a year out: only two weeks after the race is over we pick the ball up once again, figuring out what we can do better. It's a constant process. We meet maybe twice a month in the fall and winter, and then as the race gets closer and closer the coordinators are meeting two or three times a week. My main task is figuring out what the race requires in terms of volunteers, and then making efforts with both locals and those coming in from out of town in order to staff those needs. The meetings are for the race in general; not just for volunteers. I'm there to represent the volunteer effort in order to work with the organizers and staff to figure out what we need to bring to the table.
It's everybody that's involved, there are an incredible number of details that need to be perfected in order to make a race like this go off. Myself, the other volunteer coordinators and the volunteers themselves are just one part of that.
We had about 200 sign up this year, though the actual number today was definitely less than that—you have people who are planning on coming but don't make it for one reason or another. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 120 or 130 actually showed up today to volunteer, which is a good number.
The volunteers serve a lot of roles. We have Course Marshals, who are some of the most important volunteers, being in charge of a lot of the safety concerns. They're at cross streets and driveways and merges working to keep the riders and the caravan safe. We have security folks at the finish keeping the finishing area clear for the race to come into and through. We have people in the media tent helping guide the writers and photographers around, getting them what they need. We have people pouring beer at the New Belgium station which benefits the committee that brought the race town. We also have volunteers helping the anti-doping controls, they escort the riders being tested today directly from the race into the control. That doesn't even cover every person helping out today but those are the primary functions we are helping to serve.
The primary reason people volunteer is that they just want to be part of the whole thing. We have a lot of community members, locals, who understand why this race important for the area, they see the value economic and otherwise. Local business owners come out and volunteer, they understand that the race is great for them as a business person. Lots of people want to make sure the race goes off and is successful. People are crazy about bikes around here. If you can do it on a bike, it's being done.
We don't vet the volunteers, but nobody wants to be the guy on TV in every corner of the world who lets a car onto the course.
STAGE 03 – GUNNISON / ASPEN
22 AUGUST 2012
MOUNTAIN STAGE, 210.0 KM
- Tom Danielson (USA) Polka Dot Jersey. Garmin-Sharp 5h 02' 06"
- Damiano Caruso (ITA). Liquigas-Cannondale +02"
- Jakob Fuglsang (DEN). Radioshack-Nissan +02"
Stage 03 returns the same Gunnison to Aspen Queen Stage of 2011: 130+ miles and two of the highest climbs in America: Cottonwood and Independence Passes, at 12,126' and 12,095' respectively—and with the 14 miles of Cottonwood Pass on dirt.