Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Serious Work Part II

You all know how sore and tired we were waking up at 5 AM on Sunday.  We hoped for a 6 o'clock departure time to get us to Athens by 7 AM.  Yes, we were going to miss a free breakfast, but I couldn't have waited 2 hours for that anyways.  As usual, it seems to take far longer to get the house in order for leaving then expected, so we were hopping on the bikes at 6:15 and preparing to "go the speed limit" down the highway and get to our destination safely.

The good news was that the morning did dawn 4 degrees warmer then yesterday and it was an hour earlier.  The bad news was that the temperature was only for in-town.  That urban heat island effect.  As soon as we escaped the "city" the temps hovered around 35F with a pocket or two of 32F and 33F with fog.  BUT...we left in the dark and headed East.  Affording us a beautiful sunrise to urge us along.  I don't currently have the best camera or mounting system figured out for the bike yet, so this is what you get.  And at our "speed limit" ride, my actual view wasn't much better...  We arrived just in time to join in the group shot of the marshals riding the first leg today and our briefing.

We maintained the same basic group of riders as yesterday, making life easy as we were familiar with each other and the bikes.  And we just divvied the route up like yesterday: the group that took the first leg yesterday took the first leg today.  Which actually proved to be exciting!  The bicyclists would be led out of town by motorcycle police stopping traffic.  We rode between the police and the bicyclists!!  I was able to speed through downtown Athens, follow a couple motorcycle cops, run red-lights willy-nilly and almost get run over by some very fast cyclists!!  All very exciting, but I felt bad for the cyclists.  I am afraid that at one point I might have gotten in their way a little with the confusion of leaving.  Another marshal from the second group was accidentally entangled in the departure and caused a little slow-down.

Ultimately everything was straightened out.  We left the cops and cyclists behind.  Half of our group stayed back and the other half raced towards the first break point to create an even coverage of the course as the cyclists started to come through.  I was chosen to ride to the first break point and turn back around. 

The duty was much different today.  Yesterday was the last half of a long ride.  Today was the first half after a good night's rest.  Yesterday the cyclists were strung out a ways.  Today they were running in a couple good sized packs.  I think it can be guessed that our job on the first leg was very short-lived as the cyclists sped through without needing much assistance.  Something that I did really enjoy was encountering cyclists that I recognized from yesterday and sharing a friendly wave.

Another one of my doofus moments occurred along this time too.  We had been instructed to maintain order and safety.  We were told to enforce single file riding and no headphones for cyclists.  So when I approached a rise and was confronted by a huge pack of cyclists taking up their lane I staunchly pointed my finger at them to stay right.  Only to finish cresting the rise and see the police cruiser blocking traffic at the stop light for the lead pack.  Oops...  I hope the riders can look kindly on me and forgive the attitude.  I sure felt stupid.  Live and learn.  :-)

I never made it back to the beginning of the route.  I had reached the outskirts of Athens thinking that I hadn't seen anyone for quite awhile.  And I was only a couple miles from the start line...  But I hadn't seen a support vehicle following the last rider...  I took matters into my own hands and turned around.  I soon ran into one of my leaders and she confirmed that the last cyclists had gone through.  She sent me back to the break point to await instructions. 

I took a worthy break with other marshals and enjoyed chatting.  Then I delivered some bananas to some cyclists and headed out towards the second break point to begin patroling the last section.  But these cyclists were ready for today!  Many had already made it through the second break point and lunch wasn't far up the road.  It was such a lovely section too, farmland and small twisties.

My rescuing services had not been needed yet today and I was beginning to wonder how quickly today's work would end.  I headed down the 4 miles to the lunch stop.  Churches were starting to empty, more cars on the road and more people not understanding why I am in their way and riding this motorcycle so SLOW.  So I was happy to turn off the main road towards the school for lunch.  But was stopped dead in my tracks as I saw the dog bounding across the road.  It is not a good thing to have loose dogs near bicyclists.  Another responsibility is to attempt to round up loose dogs if they might bother the cyclists.  I could now see two loose dogs and one definitely did not like my motorcycle.  He came charging at me where I had stopped in the road.  I revved the engine and managed to back him up a little.  But that just gave him room to skirt the bike and try to approach me from the left, rear quarter.  The German Shephard behind this vicious mutt wasn't barking, but I wasn't taking any chances.  I slowly let the clutch out, completely out of proportion with the amount of throttle I was giving and began to smell the wonderful aroma of burning clutch.  Blech!

I pulled off the road onto a little skirt of asphalt near a cemetery.  I dismounted, but remained completely clothed (helmet, gloves and all) figuring better protection if that mutt decided to try and bite.  I inquired of the guy working in the cemetery if he knew who owned the dogs.  Negative.  Luckily a support vehicle was close behind and helped me to try and figure out what to do with the dogs.  I approached a nearby house hidden behind some trees, but there wasn't any answer.  The people in the support vehicle had managed to scare the dogs off enough that they had entered the tree line behind the house and we waited for them to re-appear. 

We decided that I would stay here and keep an eye out if the dogs tried to creep back through the trees to the road, when they finally appeared behind the house.  Armed with treats and soothing tones and a 10 year old boy we coaxed the dogs into the fenced property next to the house.  Geez.  We sure hope the dogs lived there.  :-)  I can just imagine the owners coming home and trying to figure out where these two dogs came from.  Not really my concern though as I really, really didn't like the little one...

With the lunch stop about 300 meters up the road that concluded my day.  No one else had seen the dogs prior and hopefully no one had any problems with them afterwards.  I felt completely rewarded for performing my job to the best of my abilities.  Our group slowly converged on the spot and we stayed and chatted for a good long while about our day. 

Now the question:  are we going to do this all over again at the Callaway Gardens MS Ride in Septemeber? 



  1. You're a FAR kinder biker than I've known. Really. You don't even carry a bag of bolts to throw at offensive vehicles! Where's your air-horn, to frighten mutts?!

  2. Dear Lori:

    A job well done.

    I will be marshalling bikes this weekend... At the Mac Pac attempt to break the Guiness Book Record fot the greates collection of BMW's in a parade formation. Cops have closed a major thoroughfare for us, and I doubt I'll be doing anything other than sitting in line.

    Thank you for your donation.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  3. @David: It is easy to be a nice biker in the country lanes. It is much harder to be nice in city traffic. I do think about bolts, pennies or gumballs, but would rather just keep my hands on the "wheel". Had the opportunity to speed past, cut in and slow down some idiot that insisted he needed to occupy my space without looking. Forget that Mr. Oilburner and my brother we directly in front of me and there really wasn't any space for this van to be in. At least I have anticipated these idiots in advance so far. I rue the day that I don't...

    @Jack: Have fun keeping those rowdy guys in line! I can imagine how unruly they can get. What do they think of you being in charge and having power? ;-) Crack that whip even if they don't get out of line...

    Very nice that the cops have shut the thoroughfare down. I can only imagine how cagers would react do a large group of bikes in your area if the cops weren't around.

    Have fun and be safe!