Arrivée issue 155 Spring 2022

Page 24

COUNTDOWN TO LONDON-EDINBURGH-LONDON 2022 Olaf Storbeck, the volunteers’ co-ordinator for this year’s London-Edinburgh-London ride, appeals for more helpers to support Britain’s most iconic long-distance cycling event




Olaf Storbeck celebrates finishing the 2017 LEL with his volunteer partner Katharina Slodczyk


THERE’S ONLY A FEW MONTHS to go before the next edition of LEL in August 2022. Close to 700 volunteers from around the world have already signed up – an incredible number, but we’re still short of some 300 volunteers to meet our goal and guarantee a smooth event. After the cancellation of LEL in 2021 due to the pandemic, the 2022 event will be like no other, with 2,000 riders registered to take part – a new record. With more than 1,500 km and 13 different controls, it will be an even bigger challenge for organisers. Recruiting enough volunteers has always taken a great effort, particularly in the less densely-populated areas of northern England and Scotland. The LEL organisers have taken steps to address the problem, by better marketing and by appointing a dedicated person to focus on the recruitment of volunteers. To ease the workload for volunteers, and remove some particularly unpleasant tasks, LEL has begun to rely more heavily on paid helpers, who take care of some of the crucial and less pleasant tasks like cooking and cleaning. “Our volunteers can expect to spend

their time in high-value work that entails a lot of interaction with riders,” says Danial Webb, the main event organiser, who’s been running the flagship ride since 2010. Among other tasks, volunteers sign in riders at the controls and stamp brevet cards, hand out food and drinks, allocate beds and repair bicycles. Some drive vans for drop-bags and to shuttle volunteers to the controls and back to London, others patrol remote parts of the route on motorbikes to help stranded riders. “The commitment and enthusiasm of our volunteers is totally incredible,” says Danial. “Without them there’d be no LEL.” Want to ride? Bring a volunteer! In 2022, some 100 volunteers will be recruited by riders themselves. One way of getting a guaranteed start place in the ride is to convince a close family member to come along and commit to volunteering for at least three days during the event. We normally expect the volunteer to do one shift at registration in London and two more shifts at different controls. Our plan is to dispatch most of the volunteers who are part of the “rider/volunteer scheme” to our most remote northern controls, where

we will need them most. The “bring a volunteer” scheme is particularly popular with overseas riders. Like every other volunteer from abroad, those helpers will get a £120 contribution to their travel costs, as well as transfers between controls and back to London if needed. Please spread the word among your cycling friends who may be toying with the idea of riding LEL but don’t have a guaranteed place. As in the past, volunteers who do not bring a rider along in 2022 will get a guaranteed start place in the next edition of LEL. At controls, volunteers can expect separate sleeping arrangements to the riders’ dormitories. The precise set-up varies between controls – at some controls like Louth, we are renting holiday homes that are shared by volunteers, at others, we are pitching tents. Volunteering at LEL is hard work and does require a proper commitment. The volunteers can expect a few tough days with little sleep. “Some people say that volunteering on LEL is actually harder than riding the event, and there may be some truth to this,” says Danial.