Generally, we have 4 Support Stations (SS) dotted across the daily route. Where they are situated is decided by the terrain and not just distance alone. These are stationary structures manned by 2 volunteers each. The cue sheet has these marked out on it.
From a safety perspective, the SS performs an indispensable job. We have a list of the riders at every support station. All riders must get off their bikes at the SS and sign against their names in this sheet. This ensures that we, as organizers, know that each rider has passed that particular SS. In the event of a rider going off the route, this enables us to narrow down the search area. In the absence of gps tracking, this is invaluable to us. So much so that if a rider does not sign in at any SS, he/she will get disqualified from the GC too.
Additionally, the SS is a watering hole. It provides water and some nourishment – possibly in the form of beverages, biscuits, salted peanuts, bananas where possible, etc.
Further, the SS also acts as a convenient spot for the physios to ply their trade. This is NOT a guarantee at every SS though. From the day’s profile and climatic conditions, the physios try to gauge the likely area where their skill would be better served and try to station themselves at the nearest SS.
In tune with the no-ride-after-dark policy of TFN, each SS has a cut-off time at which the SS is folded up. If any rider seems to be unable to make this cut-off, he/she is transported and dropped at the SS to continue from there-on to try and make it to the next SS within that respective cut-off.
There are certain things to keep in mind at the SS: