I coordinate a programme of tandem rides in and around Bristol for people who are blind or visually impaired, with a team of (sighted) volunteer front riders. The job varies depending on the time of year.
In the winter, I plan the ride dates and the routes – nice quiet roads, not too hilly! I do some publicity (e.g. radio interviews, contacting relevant organisations) to promote the project to more visually impaired people and to recruit new volunteer front riders. I also set up training for new front riders. If there’s any spare time, I do some fundraising too, which involves filling in applications for charitable trusts.
Once the rides start in March, there’s no time for anything except organising individual rides. A typical day involves pairing up riders, arranging where to meet, at what time, transport arrangements, etc., and making sure everyone knows what’s happening.
Finally, I often go on the rides myself – they’re good fun and we usually stop for a pub lunch in the middle.
I had a little experience of organising events and route planning through organising cycling tours with friends. I’m also quite methodical and good with detail, which is important when organising events as it’s important not to miss anything. I had also been a volunteer myself which was really helpful in knowing how to support volunteers.
The best bit is hearing about how much people get out of the rides, and seeing it all come together. The worst bit is definitely the unexpected mechanical failures – we’ve had tyres exploding and, on one ride, we had eight punctures in the pouring rain. Luckily there’s usually someone on hand who can fix a puncture in 5 minutes flat!
I get a kick out of thinking none of this would have happened if I hadn’t made it happen. It also makes cycling accessible to people with a disability, which is brilliant.
I would definitely start with volunteering. Once you get your foot in the door with an organisation, opportunities tend to come up.