This Marshall’s Eyes, Stage 2

by Rick Madden

I gotta tell you, for an adrenaline junkie, being a marshall can be a fast ride. Fast moving vehicles, choppers flying overhead and riders breezing within inches of you. But in every race you have to expect slow corners with little action. This was one of those days.

It started out rainy in Santa Rosa. Marshall Team 8 moved out at 8:30, and hour and a half before the riders started. We drove on-course the entire route, over both KOM’s. The first over Trinity grade was steep, with many switchbacks. Perhaps a preview to come tomorrow?

The riders were taking their time, negotiating the wet roads with caution, trying not to burn their candles before the 11,000 feet of climbing tomorrow. All but one BMC rider, who extended out a 12 minute gap. He took both KOM’s but was caught in the flat terrain around Davis.

My first drop of the day was about 60 miles into the ride at a t-intersection. My crowd today consisted of two farm workers and a rider from Vandenburg AFB that wandered down my lane. The peloton steamed by effortlessly at about 1 PM; the team cars decided that my corner was a great time to relieve themselves so the caravan came to a stop and the zippers dropped. I climbed into my van and we were back on the road following the caravan.

Our second drop was in Sacramento. I was in the same area last year and had a great time on a cloudy afternoon. However, the rain was closing in and the true Californians found shelter in their offices.

Last year I remember the riders riding within two inches of the curb and warned the spectators about not becoming too intimate with the riders. One of the local volunteers pointed out a 6 x 6 inch cut in the concrete to let storm water through a driveway transition. The cut ran parellell with the riders, so the probiblity of an accident was likely if a rider hit this. I proceeded to stand on course, flag raised high to warn the riders of the danger. Lucily, none of the riders rode the curb today. We ended the day without incident. Big Tom Boonen cruised to his first win in America, and Super Mario was close behind in third.

Tomorrows stage will be a challenge for the marshalls. We haven’t spoken to our captains, so none of us know our drops for tomorrow. It’s all good for me, as we will be on my home turf for a day.

There will be no email tomorrow as we will be staying in Big Sur. I’ll be back Thursday with a report on the Big Sur coast and the TT in Solvang.


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