It’s time to give back to the sport that we love, and for the past two weekends, I have spent time supporting others, who are participating in these epic events. Without the support staff, you won’t have these rides.
Tierra Bella was on 4/22/2023, and is done by my club Almaden Cycle Touring Club (ACTC). This is a huge event for the club, offering multiple rides up to a full century. My part was supporting the rest stop at Gilroy Hot Springs. Well, actually it wasn’t actually at Gilroy Hot Springs, but was at fire station 21, which was about 1/4 mile from Gilroy Hot Springs. However, when I look at my assignment, the location pointed me to Hunting Hollow Entrance. I think what confused me was in years passed, that was the rest stop. What I didn’t know was that it was supposed to be at the fire station. Oops … I felt something was wrong, and after a couple hours, I decided to head back down (because I had no cell reception up there).
I head down the hill, and then I see the fire station … ah … there’s where everyone is. Boy, I really feel like shit on my face. So embarrassing … so I timidly walk up and tell the captain that I goofed, and I’m supposed to be working this rest stop. Oh well … I guess I can help by making sure the food is not disturbed by flies, ants, etc … just make sure health inspectors don’t see any violations. But hey, I did get to take pictures of some of my friends participating in the event.
At least I assisted in helping to tear down the rest stop, and leave it like it was before we took over the place. It’s the least I could do. They were all so gracious, but I guess every little bit does help. I then turned around and helped store all of our equipment back into storage. That was a lot of work, lots of upper body workouts, and lifting, but it was all fun.
Then, this past weekend, on 4/29/2023, I was volunteering for supporting Devil Mountain Double (DMD), which I had done two weekends ago on the worker’s ride. That was tough, and now I get to support all that will endure the same tough course I survived. Just like me, many had started at 3 am. The nice part about this, is that the first loop is 46 miles, and they return back to the start. I could then come by at a more civilized hour of 8 am, to greet some of the riders, and then do Sierra Road with some of the participants.
I got there just in time to greet my friends Memo, Peggy, and Kirsten, all extremely tough, strong riders.
I then rode up Sierra Road, which is part of the highland route (when I did it, I did the lowland route, which bypassed this). A lot of riders opted for lowland, but as I was climbing, I did get passed by a couple of riders. Later on, I found one that was 3rd to the last to make it up to the Mines Road turnaround point, where I was stationed at, Control #9.
My assignment wasn’t until 5 pm at the Mines Road U-turn, at the 151 mile point. I was supposed to meet the Livermore Ham Operators at Control #8 at 4:30 pm, to install a tracker, so they can see where I am (since I am the designated SAG from Mines Road to Sunol). That was the plan, at least. When I got to Control #8, there were already a few riders there, and even one rider that already went up to the top, and came back. Holy crap, I’m supposed to be up there, 8 miles up, and I’m still here getting the tracker installed. Then, I also discovered, like an idiot, I forgot to bring a pump. What good is a SAG without a pump? Luckily, one of the Ham operators had a pump, so I borrowed that.
One of the motorcycle support riders went up to the spot where the turnaround point should be. So then we set up at that point. However, it turns out based on the route, it should still be a quarter mile up the road. The ham operator who was supposed to be at my stop was up there, and was worried that I didn’t show up. A little later, he went down the hill, and saw us. This was confusing, as some said the turnaround point was at the 10 mile marker (that’s painted on the road), but the GPS showed it was still quarter mile up. Since we had already set up by the 10 mile marker, we decided that this would be the turnaround point (although some wanted to complete it, based on what the route says). It still counted, no matter if you were at the 10 mile marker, or the turnaround up ahead.
The rest stop was supposed to close at 8 pm, but we were still getting riders past 8 pm. We looked at how many were still left, and there were still at least 6 more to go. Eventually, at 9:30 pm, all but 1 was accounted for. Since I was the sweep for the last rider, I had to wait for the last one. Eventually, that rider came at 10:22 pm. I then followed behind him, all the way to Sunol (another 30 miles or so). It wasn’t bad until we got into town, where I had to keep pulling over to let faster cars go by.
Sweeping a rider is a lot more difficult and tiring than one would think (because you are holding up traffic, trying to keep the rider safe). The actual rider was getting fatigued, as he was weaving a little bit, and he would pedal, then coast, then pedal and coast. I pulled up along side of him asking if he was okay, if he needed anything, but he acknowledged he was fine. Only later on, when we finally got to Sunol, we found he was not able to digest anything. In retrospect, I probably should have insisted to SAG him, as soon as he got to the Mines Road turnaround point.
Lesson learned … enforce a cutoff, before allowing them to attempt the out and back. As it stood, I didn’t get to the Sunol rest stop, until after midnight, and they still had 30 more miles to go, with some Rollies. We ended up SAG’ing him back to the start.
One thing I learned here is how difficult sweeping the last rider is. I now have a much greater appreciation for SAG drivers. I want to thank all the other workers on this ride, and give major kudos to everyone who completed this ride. This was one tough ride, and a tough one to support.
This was the first time our group, XDV, took over support of this ride, and we had many lessons to learn from this. The biggest part was underestimating when the rider would get to a certain part of the course. Second was enforcing a cut-off point. It’s there for the rider’s safety, as well as sanity for the workers.