Exceptional Old Kentucky Home Tour in 2003by Kathy Schmitt
The Moon, the Planets, and the Perfect Weather came together the weekend of September 6th and 7th to contribute to an exceptional Old Kentucky Home Tour! A 30% increase from last year. We’re talking 300 more bodies and bikes on the road than in 2002. Our final count of riders came in at around 1,300 for the 26th annual tour. Congratulations. Mark your calendars for next year: September 11th and 12th, 2004.
Many factors played a part in the increase in numbers. First, we had the Tri-America triathlon series this summer, then the USCF Papa John's Masters Nationals Championships, the Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine’s Duathalon series, and most important of all (drum roll, please...) the weather! The weather on that particular weekend was the finest I can remember in a long, long time. Who wouldn’t want to be on a bike? Our cyclists were happy, our sponsors were happy and BIAK was happy!
Still the growth of 300 extra cyclists poses us with some challenges.
PARKING - First of all, E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park only has 800 parking spaces in their main lot. We monopolize all of that parking and leave no spots for other weekend events at this State Park. While we are working with Sawyer to come up with solutions for 2004, we would like to encourage cyclists to carpool to the ride start in future years. Plus, we’ll need more volunteers to help with parking and traffic control should we use additional parking in the grass lot across the street.
FOOD - Cyclists are a hungry bunch – we know you need your fuel. But perhaps some changes are in order and a queue system might need to be incorporated for getting lunch and pizza. While our lunch vendor was prepared for the increased numbers, we heard of folks coming through the line two and three times. Likewise the pizza party at the end of the ride turned into a feeding frenzy! We’ll work on managing all of this better. Hopefully we’ll have better food options available for you in Bardstown. If you know of a Bardstown/Nelson County vendor who may be interested, please have them contact me.
COOKIES – Because we have so many new riders, we haven’t done a very good job of communicating where the cookies come from. Historically the homemade cookies are baked by each participating member of the Louisville Bicycle Club - that means YOU – not ELVES! In the past, phone calls were made to each and every registered participant to remind them to bake and bring cookies but I can’t imagine making 1,300 calls, can you? We opted instead to post a cookie plea on the KyCyclist mailing list and on the OKHT web site. It didn’t work and several cyclists were left with only crumbs by the time they got to the cookie stop. We need to make improvements in communicating but hope you’ll keep this in mind next year.
PORT-A-POTTIES – We discovered that 300 more cyclists is the magic number for ordering more port-a-potties. Sorry about that. I thought about food and water but not about how it ... oh, never mind. Someone wrote to me and said they “loved the entertainment at the sag stops but would gladly trade an entertainer in the budget for another port-a-pot.” Agreed! Even the century route has become so popular that it warrants its own fixed SAG and port-a-pot spot. Do we have volunteers for Pottershop?
SAFETY – Finally, changes will be made in 2004 regarding safety. This year was the first year we made safety class attendance mandatory for all cyclists under the age of 18. However, we are moving in the direction of mandatory safety classes for all OKHT participants next year. We hope you understand and will help us carry out this 15-minute safety initiative efficiently and without difficulty.
In conclusion, I want to recognize some people from TEAM OKHT who really made a difference this year.
Jim Tretter offered his time and financial expertise to meticulously manage the OKHT budget. He also provides us with a historical perspective of the OKHT (heck, Jim served as OKHT Director for 11 or 12 years!). LBC President Earl Jones was always available at the click of a mouse to provide our group with advice and guidance. Both Jim and Earl deserve a lot of credit for providing their time and leadership skills to the OKHT. Next to them I need to note the contributions of John Paul. The OKHT web site allowed me to keep my sanity and played a significant role in drawing large numbers of participants to our tour from over 22 states. John Paul, Web Designer Extraordinaire, did a fantastic job creating a beautiful, comprehensive, detailed, precise, pleasurable, and informative web site that was available to view 24/7. The number of repetitive questions I received via e-mail was reduced by 90% because the answers to all OKHT questions could be found right there online. Technology and information are wonderful! John Paul also created the OKHT logo and brochure as well as countless other contributions such as the OKHT Saloon Watering Hole (hope you ordered your pictures). Great job JP!
Karen Jaworski came out of nowhere and took on the monumental task of Volunteer Coordinator. It was a baptism by fire managing approximately 200 volunteers of the OKHT but she brought with her some fresh ideas from working with the Derby Festival and as a school teacher dealing with kids. Great job, Karen! She will get some help in 2004 from Brenda Palmer and Carol Leist. Brenda and Carol both worked coordinating the OKHT for several years in the past and we are thrilled to have them both back to help. Brenda is already designing her strategy to make sure all information is communicated to our volunteers and that they are crystal clear about their duties and assignments. In fact, a volunteer get-together has already been put on the calendar for August 29, 2004 (more about this later). Thank you both for your efforts!
Lewis Miller worked as our Media Director and creatively handled all public relations and media contact for the event. In 2004, Lewis will also work as our sponsor liaison — working with our current sponsors and securing new ones. This is a big job and he’s a natural at it.
As always, Mike Pitt created another incredible party in Bardstown. His work with the people at the Bardstown Chamber of Commerce, Bardstown High School, Fairfield, and Spalding Hall sure pays off. Also, Ellen Mueller once again coordinated and handled the entire registration database. That meant coming home to a mountain of mail in the summer that needed to be processed when she would have rather been on her bike.
Bill Sanders handles the buses and miscellaneous duties in Bardstown. Joe Argabrite and team handled the route marking. Joe also pulled together a list of emergency contacts for each of the counties our cyclists ride through. Sara Ferebee worked with Lewis on the OKHT posters and she coordinated the Sunday volunteers. Lynn Luking handled the merchandise and coordinated the printing of the t-shirts. Annette Aldridge coordinated the shopping trip which includes over $1000 worth of Gatorade alone. Bob Horner helps with the SAG distribution formulas.
The 102-mile OKHT Challenge had a very successful year. Sorry about the snafu publishing the results. Thanks to Eddie Doerr for getting this unique event off the ground. It definitely attracts a different kind of cyclist. He will pass the torch on to members of the LBC Racing community (Michael Seiler, Mark Luking and others) who will be organizing the time trial in 2004. Thank you, LBC Racing!
The last time you heard from me in the LBC newsletter I indicated that the OKHT would be looking for someone to replace me as Director. The job hasn’t changed, it still requires a big chunk of my time but my change of heart came about because these incredible LBC folks came forward and took control of certain duties which made the overall task a little less overwhelming. It takes a dedicated community to make the OKHT happen and we have a wonderful collaborative at work where everyone donates their time and talents. We’ve got such a strong crew that any one of them could be the OKHT director. I’m looking to grow a few more for the future.
After the tour this year, a few veteran LBC members confessed to me that they rode the bike tour for years and that this was the first time they had ever volunteered. Every one of them said they would do it all again too because it was so fun and they felt they made a difference. You can make a difference too. Hope you will step forward to help. See you in 2004!
Copyright ©2003 Louisville Wheelmen. All rights reserved.
contact the webmaster for question and/or comment about this page.
web posted: 4 November 2003
last updated: 6 November 2003