Stage 7 – Santa Clarita to Pasadena

We were very close to the start of the stage, and our roll out time was at 10 am. This allowed us to have a nice relaxing breakfast before rolling out. They had a really nice free continental breakfast. It was a whole lot better than the continental breakfast we had in Clovis (and they charged $6 for that). This was in the meeting room by the main lobby of the hotel, so we didn’t even have to wait in line. This is great! By the time I finished, it was still 1.5 hours left before we had to bring our luggage in. So what did I do to waste the time away with? What else … look for video coverage on Versus (since the room didn’t have it).

Today would be an aggressive drop and pickup. The first drop off point was after the 3 mile neutral run, then about a mile out, on Bouquet Canyon, just outside of Santa Clarita. I was basically situated on a street that had 5 house cul de sac, and for the most part, there was no activity. I lucked out, as some of the other course marshalls had busy intersections, having to deal with citizens irrate about the situation. But it’s not like they didn’t know about this. I even talked to the sheriff, and he mentioned they had a big public media blitz on this, and warned everyone a month in advance this was coming.

There wasn’t any cops stationed at my street corner, so I had to close off the street with cones. Since this was an aggressive drop off and pick up, I would immediately have to clear the cones from the intersection as soon as the end of convoy truck passed through. Luckily, there was no activity on my intersection, so when the first riders started passing through, I decided to clear the cones right then, and just use my body as the street blocker. That seem to turn out well. Kerrie and I coordinated to get picked up at the same point, so that the van wouldn’t have to do multiple pickup stops, since we were in a hurry.

After the pickup, we continued on a caravan behind the pelaton. That was a wild ride, and we all definitely had to have our drammamine fix today.

The views along the ride were glorious. There was snow still left, and of course, a lot of sand on the road. This could make for some sketchy descents, and hopefully, the riders will be aware of this (especially after Stage 4, when it went into the Sierras). My Georgia friends were amazed at the scenery and the terrain, and I could tell they were jealous that we have this terrain in California.

We passed by shprung, and later on, scootcore, just before we got to ACH. After a pitstop before the right turn on ACH, we continued on down the course. We were running short on time, so we had to bring our lunch with as after our drop off point. My afternoon drop off was near Inverness, on Linda Vista. I had the luxury of having an LOC who actually was doing their job … course marshalling!

As a side note, we have another nick name for the LOC’s … I believe I told you earlier that most of the LOC’s were not course marshalling, but actually taking advantage of their spots, and taking pictures. We called them “the camera club”. Anytime you saw someone with an orange t-shirt, and “volunteer” pasted on the back of the t-shirt, you know they are from “the camera club”.

Ok, back to the topic at hand. On my corner, there was a school teacher there, so it did help that we had a responsible adult there, making sure the kids stay put. My LOC was very consciencious, and NOT a “camera club” member. She made a point to make sure no one had there feed hanging off the curb.

There were about 6 different wave of riders passing through, and I had to remind everyone the convoy is not over yet. But still, no one listened, and I even saw some LOC’s go riding through the course … I eventually had to yell at them that the course is still closed. I guess someone up ahead told them the course is open, but if the “end of convey” truck has not passed, that is my cue that the course is not closed. This is worse than baby sitting … I have to baby sit adults!

After the convoy passed, we got picked up, but then we were asked to go to the finish line, and help out crowd control. Now this was a challenge. We had to make sure the crowd stayed behind the white line, but every now and then, they would inch their way forward. I kept having to remind them to step behind the white line.

The circuit race around the Rose Bowl was for 5 laps. One time, the pack came through, and the support vehicle went right up to our barrier. I saw one spectator with a camera, that had stepped over the line. Lucky for her, she saw the oncoming support vehicle was hugging the far edge of the street, and promptly took one step back. You see, if she had obeyed my first order, she wouldn’t have had to do that.

What I didn’t realize were that a few of my friends were at the Rose Bowl, and I didn’t contact them by phone. Sorry … I didn’t get to hook of with my friends, but I did see some familiar faces, and I tried to shout their name. They didn’t hear me … it was a crazy atmosphere out there, and there were so many people that came out to view this. I don’t have any numbers, but I am sure there were more than last year (due in large part to the weather).

Too bad Christian VandeVelde didn’t win the stage, but he did get most aggressive rider honor for this stage.

We scurried out of Pasadena after the race finished. Getting onto the freeway wasn’t too bad, but once we got to central part of Pasadena, it was bumper to bumper traffic up to Azusa, then it freed up until we got to Hwy 91. It took us a good 3.5 hours to get to San Diego. I had forgotten how bad the traffic got in LA on a Saturday. I definitely think it has gotten worse since I lived there.

I can’t believe tomorrow is the last day of the tour, and the last day to spend with this fantastic group. I will certainly miss the cameraderie with this group, as this was a very enjoyable vacation. Everyone in the van was either from Florida, Georgia, or Virginia. I felt like I was in the Tour of Georgia, and not the Tour of California. They are a lot of fun, and this is an experience I will not forgot any time soon.

If you have the opportunity to become a traveling course marshall, definitely take it. If you can’t do traveling course marshall, and can only do LOC, please remember what we are here for … we are here for the safety of the riders, and the safety of the spectators. We may miss some good shots as a result of that, but everyone has to make sacrifices.

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