The Leader Retreat: After

Well, that was fun.

Firstly, I'd like to thank the Bannermans for hosting us, again, for the third year in a row. Ken and Judy truly go out of their way to make us feel welcome in their home. Thank you.

The leader retreat is an annual pre-trip gathering of all of the coming summer's trip leaders. It is very likely to be the only time, ever, that all of us will be in the same room. After the summers are over, people tend to go their separate ways, and without any mandatory impetus, rarely reunite as such. It's a shame, since I met so many spectacular people this weekend. People flew in from all over the country to make it to Montclair, NJ for the weekend's events.

It was fun to be both a leader and a leader-alum. I still had plenty to learn from everyone else present, and could offer my own knowledge and experiences to bolster other people's presentations.

The retreat itself consists of an entire day of marathon presentations, from 9am to about 8pm. We talk about gear, safety, team dymanics, the budget, food, day to day logistics, routing, fixing flat tires, and the like. We also stuff all of the office's envelopes, which I know is a huge help.

I gave my presentation on routing for the second year in a row. Rather than talking at people with a slide show presentation, I took a different approach. I prepared a concise but detailed handout on the essentials of routing, and made the session as interactive as possible. First, we discussed the ins and outs of routing. Then, I showed people a few things in Topo. After that, I guided people, step by step, through the process of making a route. Finally, I was able to demonstrate geographic features like the Tetons in 3D relief.

We had an outdoor session to cover bicycle repair. The weather turned from 40F rain to 65F sun, which made being outside pleasant. I jumped in at some point to show some tricks regarding seating tires and tubes, including a neat way of seating the tube to avoid pinching (run your fingers between tire and tube all the way around) and an easy way to seat a difficult bead (squeeze to the middle of the rim, and use the heels of your palms!). People got a good laugh at my expense when I completely un-did Kristian's tire reseating job. I scowled on the outside, but laughed on the inside (and the outside).

I had to leave early, as I was otherwise booked the following day. I wish I could have stayed longer, and I know I may never see many of these people again.

So, for the record, I had an excellent time, and am looking forward to next year's retreat.

It looks like I also came out of the weekend with a secret admirer. I'm sorry to say that, per Bike & Build policy, I'm not allowed to have secret admirers. Other leaders are, but I'm not. Being a secret admirer means a mandatory conference call with me and the trip comedian, which is a secret position determined by a unanimous agreement of the leadership team at check-in. It's right there in some revision of the rider guide. Sorry.