Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Motorcycle Marshaling for Multiple Sclerosis... part 2

I know better and yet I still do it. I post and then relax.  Now I have lost my rhythm and train of thought.  Hopefully I haven't forgotten much of the day.  :-)  I do appreciate your patience for bearing with me as I try and get back into the feel.

Sunday dawned slightly cooler than Saturday.  But the humidity was still pretty high, made that much worse with the slightly cooler temps.  We were still on our 6 AM track for breakfast and discussed our roles for the day.  Sunday sees a reprieve for the riders (moto and free wheel) with only two routes to choose from: the 35 mile and the 65 mile.  We don't need the three separate marshaling groups, so two groups have been combined to cover the 65 mile route.

Again, we line up in front of the bicycle riders in preparation of the starting countdown.

The crowds are gathering...

My position in our posse

We're ready to go

The hiccup today comes with the double countdown for the bicyclists to start.  It seems the marshal at the front of the pack couldn't quite hear the countdown and didn't take off at the appropriate time.  So the countdown had to begin again...  The rest of us marshals, in our enthusiasm, repeatedly laid into our horns trying to spur the front motorbikes on.  It eventually worked and we were all under way.

Our group was again assigned to the 65 mile route.  So the two groups rode to the second break point together.  It seemed like an incredibly long distance even though the speedometer was showing 20 miles.  The slightly chilly temperatures promoted ground fog along sections of the route that created this illusion of moving without going anywhere.

The route was quiet and I hoped the church going crowd wouldn't give our riders too much of a problem.  While most of the roads were wide there wasn't much space beyond that white line.  I guess I needn't have worried too much considering how the pedalers took up the lanes yesterday.  :-)

Waiting for the train

 The rest of the group

We reached the break point in good order, trying to figure out how to corral two teams into one well oiled surveillance machine.  I guess we needn't have worried about that.  Our leaders were informed that 90%  of the riders were taking the short route.  One of our groups needed to be reallocated to the 35 mile route.  That was us!  Ready for the maps, no clue, but point us in the right direction!!  :-)

Come on, that is one good looking motorbike 
(And that GQ looking guy in the background too...)

We hit the road following the actual route to reach the location where it spilled back into the shorter route.  I was amazed to see so many cyclists when we reached the merge location!  And it again turned into a "wait 5 minutes before the next person leaves" situation.  So our little posse sat at the intersection and slowly moved onto the roads to haunt the bicyclists.  

Early morning, short ride, cooler temps and there weren't too many problems on the roads.  More broken pedals, no cell coverage and the like, but the work was shorter and easier today.  No one wanted water or bananas.  It was easy!  I learned my lesson from yesterday and sat at the finish line for a couple minutes and munched some trail mix.  Then hopped onto the road to continue my duties.  Did I mention that it was an easy day?

I ran into my favorite couple a few miles from the finish line.  I kick myself every time I think about it, wishing that I had ridden them in, in a blaze of power, horn honking and blinding lights to signify what they had accomplished.  But I also carried some ice for a gentleman that was going to partake of some beverages at the finish line. 

Everything was wrapping up by 1 PM.  And we were given the choice of eating lunch in the pavilion with the riders...or going back to the last break point and enjoying some freshly barbecued hamburgers.  Seems like someone has been showing his appreciation by grilling some hamburgers for the riders at this last spot.  And boy were they delicious!!  (No pictures...too good to stop eating and fetch the camera.)

Roadkill Armadillo counting...netted two over my left shoulder...

Nothing left for us but to strike out for home.  We had offered to ride another member back into metro Atlanta and we tried to take the back roads for a majority of the distance.  It was a great weekend that was drawing to a close...

I learned a few lessons along the way this time:
  • bicyclists tend to want more water and bananas on Saturday  (and cold bananas are well received)
  • keeping yourself hydrated and nourished is extremely important - either put an hydration bladder in the back of my jacket or mount my camel back on the pelican case for easy access
  • definitely benefit from a modular helmet on this ride to communicate with bicyclists and to eat/drink  (I am not fond of modular helmets, so would only wear it on these occasions)
  • the saddle bags are handy, but having a cooler of some type strapped to the passenger seat makes access much easier.  Need a balance of size vs. internal space.
  • need my accessory pack of tape, sharpie, first aid kit put together before each ride
  • pester the leaders before the ride weekend for the break down of routes and print on small cards to laminate and put on lanyards.  (Previously we had contact phone numbers, which was invaluable!  Now it is also a good idea to put the route here too.)
  • CB or Ham radio (license) is beneficial for communicating directly with leaders or event organizers...especially when cell coverage is spotty!!
  • keep cool (in the summer) with a watered down hanky or one of those silicon beaded neckerchiefs
  • stop for 2 seconds and take more pictures!!  (if nothing else, keep the point and shoot in the tank bag to stop in the middle of the road)  (oh yeah...take tank bag!)

    Overall route:
      - green Saturday ~170 miles
      - cyan Sunday ~103 miles
      - magenta route to/from home ~200 miles

    Wondering what the lame teaser was from the last post?  


    In case you still aren't sure if this is something you would/wouldn't like to do...have a look!


    1. Great Vid. Not sure myself if I should put up a video cam myself... thinking of the flying plywood that would have been the star in my last stunt ;-)
      Keep it rolling, I really enjoy your writing.

    2. That really was a great video. It really showed what was involved participating in such events. The event looked huge, how many cyclist and motorcycles participated?

      Great job,

    3. Lori

      I watch in awe your video - if only I could do that quality of production with my Greek trip stuff! Sadly my PC cannot cope (haha a bad workman blaming his tools?).

      All that is missing on you bike are blue flashing lights!


    4. Hi SonjaM!

      Thanks for watching and glad you enjoyed. I agree with you on videoing rides. I'm winding up with hours of video with nothing exciting on it! :) I cannot delete them no matter how boring they are... And invariably the video is off for the exciting stuff and on for the boring stuff. I would have watched that damnable board to applaud your maneuvering!!

      Thanks for the encouraging words and reading what comes out of my fingertips. I hope you are healing well. Need to ask you about your ride on Route Stories??


    5. Hi Richard,

      Thanks for watching, I'm glad you liked it. I love watching it and keep bopping to the music. :) I am seeing varying accts, but I believe there were between 1350 and 1500 cyclists. And there were 30 motorcycles...but I read by one of the group leaders there should have been 40, with 10 backing out at the last minute.

      Next time I will take more pictures of the back end of the event.

      Thanks for your comments!


    6. Hi Nikos,

      Thank you so much! I completely understand about the tools. I'm sure you will figure something out and can't wait to see your sights. Your pictures paint a great picture of places I want to see.

      And flashing blue lights are only for authorized emergency vehicles...darn! :)

      I'm glad you enjoyed and appreciate your reading/comments.


    7. Awesome! My two favorite two wheeled conveyances. I'd have a hard time deciding which one I'd want to be riding. I loved the vid!

      That's a large group! Our bicycle club puts on a century ride each spring. We have about 650-700 riders.

    8. Hi Bluekat,

      I commend you for riding a century. At one time I would have loved it. As for your decision...could always pedal one year and marshal the next. :) One of the marshals this year usually pedals and he said this was his way of giving back.

      650-700 riders is a great turnout if they are all doing the century. I don't know how many of hours rode it, but I do know quite a few turned around and did it again the same day...olympic training (really, truly).

      Have a great day! I am glad you enjoyed the video. Thank you for watching and commenting!


    9. Me, ride a century?
      I should clarify...our club puts on a century ride with shorter options. Most ride the 55 mile loop. I don't ride it, I run a waterstop. My best claim to fame is 75 miles in one day. I'm more of a 30-50 mile "weekend warrior" rider at an easy pace! :)

    10. Dear Beemer Girl (Lori):

      Congratulations for contributing your time and resources to a very worthwhile cause. MS remains one of those baffling diseases that so tenaciously resists a cure, without constant and extensive research. Events like the one you just conducted are critical to defeating this debilatating disease.

      I cannot begin to think of matching your effort due to the advanced state of my own arthritis, and the lmited number of times I can dismount the bike.

      I think your video did a great job of showing what the effort this commitment requires, but also, the special bond between all the riders. Great post.

      Fondest regards,
      Jack • reep • Toad
      Twisted Roads

    11. Dear Jack!

      Thank you for your kind comment! I've known a couple people with MS, and met many more on this ride. It would be great to find a cure for well as all of the others out there...

      This was one tough ride weekend and could easily exacerbate any issues one might have. Even the strong amongst us had heat problems.

      This weekend I had a taste of unrelenting leg pains and kept thinking of you. I give you kudos for achieving what you do with your arthritis and still ride. When the pain became bad I just gritted my teeth and thought of you. My pains would go away with a good soak in the hot tub...

      Thank you for reading and commenting!


    12. Dear Beemer Girl (Lori):

      Many women think of me when they are in pain.

      Fondest regards,
      Jack • reep • Toad
      Twisted Roads

    13. Dear Jack,

      Now I just need to figure out if you are the cause of their pain...or the ccaaauuuzzzeeee of their pain. :) -Lori