Life Outside Summer 2018 - 36

ED KOHINKE SR.

SWEEPERS AT WORK
Top: Michelle Scarfe, of Just
the Right Gear junior mountain
biking teams, keeps tabs on
even her youngest riders.
Lower: Amy Paderick (left)
and Jeremy Skiff sweep the
course at a recent Mountain
Junkies running event.

nearly every type of outdoor activity. She has towed
boats for kayakers, helped capsized paddlers back into
their canoes, supplied paddles to boarders who've
dropped theirs. She's changed bike tires and cleaned
cuts and bruises. She's talked scared spelunkers into
pressing on. She's carried extra water and snacks -
and even trekking poles and jackets- for hikers
who are fading.
She's endured her share of whining and participant
frustration.
"Someone is at their most vulnerable when they're
doing something that pushes them," she says.
But Andrew says she's also enjoyed those hours
bringing up the rear. "You travel at a lot slower pace
at the back," she explains. "You see more wildlife,
you notice a lot more."
If there's a sport that calls for sweeps more than
any other, it might be mountain biking. In it, speeds
are fast, gear can falter and rides often go deep into
back country where the chance of encountering help
can be nearly nonexistent.
Just ask Richard Blackwood, an avid mountain
biker and the rides coordinator for the Roanoke
Chapter of the International Mountain Bicycling
Association. A mountain biker since before mountain
biking was big, Blackwood typically trail rides three
times a week plus leads a Tuesday RIMBA group ride.
When he's riding sweep, Blackwood slides on his
15-pound pack full of chain links, tires and bolts, plus
a first aid kit equipped to help eight to 10 people,
extra water, granola bars and clothing.
He also shifts his attitude.
"It took me a while to learn, you have to get into a
different mindset," he says. "If you go in expecting a
hard ride and a great workout, you're going to drive
yourself and everybody else nuts."
But Blackwood knows the importance of getting
help on the trail. He's broken his collar bone twice
in his time on two wheels. In November, he was
bombing down a fire road in the dark when he fell,
hard. Then, he needed the space blanket and ace
bandage he had in his pack.
"When I broke my collar bone in 2011, it was four
miles back to the car. It could have been really bad
if I'd been there out by myself," he says.
Michelle Scarfe has swept hikes as a Wilderness
Adventure guide and mountain bike races more recently. These days, she's one of 10 coaches for the Just
the Right Gear junior mountain biking team, serving

kids ages 4 to 18 years old. Every Wednesday night,
she swaps with a parent volunteer, some weeks she's
leader, some weeks sweeper. Scarfe prefers sweeper.
"When I'm in front, I feel the pressure of everyone
behind me," she explains. "There are too many things
to think about: Am I going too fast, too slow? Where
is the last person? Is everything okay? When I'm
in the back, I can see everyone. I know I can take
care of them."
While some rides can be opportunities to instruct
and inspire, others can be downright scary. Scarfe
was leading a group of kids when she stepped two
inches from a rattlesnake. At a Mountain Junkies
trail race at Carvins Cove one year, a runner saw a
bear and was so shaken she could barely speak miles
later as the sweeps helped her cross the finish line,
remembers race director and Mountain Junkies
co-owner Josh Gilbert.
"Every week at practice I think about whether or
not someone's going to get hurt," says Scarfe. "You
only have so much control. All the coaches are wilderness first aid trained, but that's not something
you ever want to use."
ON A RECENT SUNNY SATURDAY, Jeremy Skiff and

Amy Paderick arrived at a Mountain Junkies 10K and
half-marathon trail race. They knew the drill. Skiff
had been lining up at Mountain Junkies races for
the last seven years. But this one would be different.
Though he'd been running 50K ultras, though he
competed in the Boston Marathon in April, though
he regularly earned a spot on his events' winning
podiums, Skiff and Paderick would be sweeping that
day's race.

AT THE READY
Richard Blackwood shifts
his attitude-from hard-riding competitor to patient
supporter-when he takes
on the sweeping role.

You've agreed to be the last runner, biker, paddler.
You'll help anyone whose hurt, you'll handle
equipment failures, pep-talk a racer at their low.
36

Summer 2018 \\ LifeOutside Magazine



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Life Outside Summer 2018

Life Outside Summer 2018 - 1
Life Outside Summer 2018 - 2
Life Outside Summer 2018 - 3
Life Outside Summer 2018 - 4
Life Outside Summer 2018 - 5
Life Outside Summer 2018 - 6
Life Outside Summer 2018 - 7
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