I get some of the sweatiest, grimy handshakes of my lifetime, and it doesn't even bother me. It feels wonderful to be a part of something monumental in these riders’ lives. I get to hear comments to the Race Directors as riders finish and many say, “Thank you, this is the best course I’ve ever done.” One rider says, “This is the greatest achievement of my life!” I say, “Congratulations! Good work!” Time after time the riders thank me for my hard work, for being there, for being a Gravel Groupie. I mirror it back, “Thank you for your hard work. Without you we wouldn’t be here. You’re welcome.” I know they aren’t thanking me personally, because all I did was show up the day before the race. They are thanking the Race Directors, all the support staff, the entire community of Emporia, the surrounding communities that participate and all the ranchers whose front and back yards they travelled. Our contact creates a bond of sweaty gray-dirt gratitude and inspiration. So as a last minute volunteer, I am honored to receive a multitude of gratitude. It changes you.