By Chris Hurt
April 23, 2003: Prologue
So weíve been instructed to be on time everywhere we go, but at the prologue
yesterday John and I were late to the first meeting because there were no coffee
shops open at 7 am in downtown Savannah, so we had to make due with the greasy
food and lethargic wait staff at the Days Inn restaurant.† Five minutes
late and already a search party of our teammates is on the prowl looking for us.†
Soon after we are located we are on a Sprinter (our official vehicle for the
tour) to the Start/Finish line to begin the day's toil.
The sky is clear blue at 7:30 when we arrived, team cars, official Tour de
Georgia vehicles and sponsors were all about.† A huge video screen was
setup as well, but we never got to see it in action.† Instead we quickly
set off to another ďinspirationalĒ meeting and thereafter sweeping the
start/finish area, not the most romantic of tasks, but we did it as well as we
could.† After that more meetings and then to posts around the course.†
Using a bit of strategy I found post in the shade and set up camp there to keep
folks off the course.† In my case this didnít end up being difficult since
the lane I was guarding was of little interest to motor traffic.† So
instead I only had to herd a couple of bikes and pedestrians along the way.
Pete Knudsen - Schroeder Iron. Photo by Michael Pugh.
This meant I got to watch the riders most of the time.† Some interesting
things I noticed were that a lot of the smaller teams didnít have time trial
bikes and in some instances didnít even have time trial bars.† The most
noticeable of these being the Rabobank team and the Dutch national team which
was somewhat confusingly also wearing Rabobank jerseys, albeit with different
shorts.† It was also difficult to make out who was who along the course as
I didnít have a list of the numbers and I was far enough from the announcer that
I couldnít hear the names.† It was fun nonetheless to watch the guys go
bombing around the corner just down the way from me.† It was also
interesting to watch the moto-camera go blasting around the corner.† I
spoke one of the moto guys after the race and he told me that a camera bike will
have a driver/cameraman pair that will only work together, after watching them I
can see why.† One last interesting thing was that some of the teams also
didnít employ follow cars due to budgetary constraints, so some guys were
zipping about with only a leading moto as escort.
All in all an excellent race to watch/work, people were for the most part
very receptive to the race even if they didnít understand what was going on.†
One thing the race organizers have done a good job of is letting us know that we
should engage the local folks and try and explain what is happening in the race
in order to create interest and a positive atmosphere.
After the race was more drudgework, although we did get to sneak into the VIP
lounge for lunch and our libation of choice, I had a glass of wine, which made
the rest of the day go a little quicker.
April 24th: Stage 1 Augusta-Macon
The 1st road stage today from Augusta to Macon, weíre informed the night
before that we roll out at 6:30 AM for a long day.† So at 6:30 our team
meets only to find out the we donít have to be anywhere for several hours, and
of course we had already checked out.† Suck that did, but we made the best
of it by heading to Dunkin Donuts for coffee and such.† The we went and
scouted the route and cleared debris. Finally, around 9:30 I was let off at my
post where I stood for an hour waiting for the first of the race caravan.
Photo by Michael Pugh.
It was cool to watch after the first car came, two deputies from the local
sheriff showed up almost magically to assist (okay, to take over for the most
part) in blocking the road.† Then came a large parade of motos ensuring the
course was safe and free of cars.† A few minutes later the peloton cruises
by at a relaxed pace.† Only a few stragglers behind and lots of chatting
going on in the pack.† After the peloton the broom wagon came by indicating
the official end of the race caravan.† Soon after the Sprinter showed up to
get me and the rest of the team as we shuttled off to our next site.
I arrive at Sam Hill an hour or so later.† It is a stop sign out in the
middle of nowhere, but itís beautiful and there is some nice shade.† A
little while later some sheriffs deputies arrive to assist with the traffic
followed later by a pair of Georgia State Troopers.† I have to say the
police have all been helpful and organized which makes everything much easier
for us marshals and the race in general.
Soon a lone breakaway arrives, someone from Sierra Nevada (a mechanic from
the team later gives his name as Nico).† Six or seven minutes later the
Saturn-led peloton cruises by with a couple of Posties keeping guard.† All
appeared content to let the break suffer alone (later I learn that he was
swallowed up after the next sprint point).
Saturn on the front. Photo by Michael Pugh.
There are no stragglers at this point, so Iím soon back to the shade of the
tree waiting to go to the next drop and writing this account.
The day is done.† We raced (and I mean raced) from the second checkpoint
to the third, but try as we might, we didnít make it there until just as the
peloton went by.† We did call ahead and made sure some other folks were
there.† This turned out to be a blessing, because we slipped into the
caravan behind the broom wagon and followed the peloton into Macon.† It was
really wild to see because the road was lined with people for much of the last
bit into the city and there were a lot of kids.† As we passed by everyone
waved at us and we waved back, enjoying the smiles on their faces.
As the peloton went to do its circuits of the town, we proceeded to the
finish to be of any assistance we could.† For the most part we werenít
needed so we got to watch as the Vogels-led peloton came streaming across the
line.† There was some confusion afterwards about who won the sprint, but in
the end it was the affable Vogels over Miguel Meza.
Tonight we ate dinner with all of the teams and got a chance to talk to some
of the riders.† John and I spoke to Floyd Landis briefly, and he told us he
felt pretty good today, hopefully heíll be in the mix for GC when we hit the
mountains.†† We also had Frankie Andreu drop by our table for a few
minutes.† A good finish to a long day.
Tomorrow we get to sleep in and then we are off, to where Iím not exactly
Photo by Michael Pugh.