It's all ship-shape and cycle fashion

Tour of Southland volunteer Lloyd Smith.
Tour of Southland volunteer Lloyd Smith.

The Tour of Southland is more than just a cycle race - dozens of volunteers spend countless hours each year co-ordinating and helping with the well-known event. Bridget Railton speaks with some of the people working behind the scenes to turn the race into more than just bicycles and sweat.

It takes more than one man to move a mountain, and apparently the same goes for moving 190-odd cyclists.

Lloyd Smith, a long-time Tour of Southland supporter and backstage man, has been helping co-ordinate official's vehicles for the best part of 27 years.

As a driver he is in charge of ensuring people get where they are meant to be.

Although he asserts his role is "a pretty standard deal" he admitted getting everybody from A to B was a massive undertaking.

"To be able to say that you're a part of that, not that I think I deserve a pat on the back, but to be involved in that is good."

For the most part everything had always run smoothly, but he remembered an incident one year when a group of riders were turned down a wrong way, which had caused a bit of confusion, he said.

"The traffic officer in charge had turned left prior to where he should have and we had to stop, right when some of the more senior riders turned up. Well they decided they weren't going any further until the guys in front were called back," he said.

"The longer they sat there the further away the others would be."

Mr Smith said he got a lot of enjoyment out of being involved in something unique to Southland, and the involvement of the community and volunteers should not be underestimated.

"People want to be able to help. We get so much support from various car firms without having to beg borrow and steal.

"We are fortunate that we have so many people who are so willing to give up their time. Volunteers are great people, we are so lucky that Southland is the way it is."

The Southland Times