My ToB part 3

I’ve had to edit this slightly as it’s refused to upload! Sorry about the delay – our wifi is rather slow, and data connection is worse!!

Saturday
Me and Verity caught the train last night to Brighton, getting to the hotel at roughly 22.30.
We met Rhys at 9.30ish at a little cafe on the seafront by the pier. Then it’s off to find out exactly where we are meant to meet up. Funnily enough we walk straight past it, as I’m too busy talking and looking at how they are setting up the finish. Team parking is easy to find as it’s straight after the finish. We walk into Dr.Paul Baillie – who knows us from the last few ToBs. The meeting point is back behind us, near the tradestands. We’ve checked out one of the most important things – where the toilets are 😉
After a while, Paul, Chris and Liz arrive with boxes of yellow vests, whistles, info forms etc. They give us the usual briefing, and we start sidling toward one side, as to be quite honest, I don’t want to be stuck on a crossing point, or anywhere near dope control!
Obviously we’ve done team parking every time. It’s hectic, but good fun. Paul and Chris get about 12 of us and we head off as soon as the briefing is finished.
I wander around, running into Nathan – he’s done the whole week of the tour. We don’t have much to do until the first team buses/cars/campervans arrive.

Sky, thankfully drive right down near the finish. Garmin are the opposite end, wanting to be quickly away. I end up with Madison Genesis and BMC behind me, and NFTO in front of me. From the layout of the road – the bit past Sky will turn out to be a pinch point. Purely because most of the public descend on their bus.
Thankfully it’s hot and sunny, and I borrow suncream off Chris a couple of times.
Eventually the cars/campervans arrive from the feedzone – although nearly straightaway we realise there are a few missing. Giant Shimano, team GB and one other. They do arrive later on however!

Huge thanks to El from NFTO Apparel who bought us Calypso’s!!

And massive thanks to NFTO who let me watch the race through the window of their bus!

Then, we sort of see Tao crash, and within a few minutes it’s the usual chaos. Cyclists everywhere, cars coming in, the public walking into everything (including myself).

Constant whistle blowing, we wait for Rhys to shout/whistle up, then it’s our turn, then onto Victoria and Sue. I drift away from Madison Genesis as I can hear them laughing at me.
‘MIND YOUR BACKS PLEASE’
‘RIDER COMING THROUGH’
‘CAR COMING OUT’
‘DO YOU WANT TO GET HIT BY A CAR!??’

This does go on for a fair while, but you have to have a laugh with it, although you don’t half feel an idiot sometimes!
The guys from BMC were nice, they at least thanked me.
I managed to catch up with Michelle (with Raleigh) well before the race came in 🙂

Then the teams start drifting away, one by one they are off to Heathrow, this causes more chaos as there’s a lot of people around OPQS to see Cav. Movistar and BMC were very very quiet. But I know tomorrow will be worse!

There’s only Sky left when we start making our way back. We leave them to get on with it.

We catch up with my friend Kara, and see Kristian House on the beach, as well as Rob Hayles and Ned Boulting near the tv stuff.

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Then it’s off to the pub for a well earned pint and food!

I know Vélo: Spin up in the City is on, and 4 of us make our way up there to have a look. It’s great to see @dizzymabil and @ClaudAndI there, and once again Verity has a go at roller racing!

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I also recognise Matt. No idea where from tho

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Its a cracking end to the day, and we are back at the hotel before 11.

Sunday
We’re in Victoria in London by 9. Time to grab a quick coffee, then off to the briefing again. The guys that have been doing this all week look shattered. We ask for team parking again, get our ToB vests and listen to what’s said.
We organise ourselves and make our way up to Westminster Bridge.
The teams are already there, and we station ourselves at the entrance/exit where we’ll make the most use of ourselves.
Then the fun begins.

Rider and car (and sometimes a soigneur) out, stop next rider/car from going across as we wait for whichever one is doing the ITT (Individual Time Trial) to go through. Let rider across, team car in from the deviation, let rider back across after the race.

And keep the public safe.

We’re shouting and blowing whistles from the word go. We set some tape up so we have a semi ‘sterile’ area. But people lean on it, and it gets broken and retied. Eventually we get metal barriers up, which leaves a good sized area free. It’s exhilarating in its own way. And I quite enjoy it. We have short breaks when we can, but it is chaotic.

It’s not long for the ITT to finish, and a bit of time before the main race. I take a wander along Westminster Bridge and stop to speak to El. Then onto Raleigh, where I get to sit in the boot of one of their cars and relax for a few minutes whilst chatting to Michelle.

I check the other marshals are ok and have had a break, then it’s back to the team entrance/exit onto the course. I have a bit of a chat with the lovely @Joolzephoto too.

Very quickly riders and team cars make their way out and round to the start, and the race is off. 8 laps. Cars in, drop passengers, cars out, cyclists past. I get a shout from the other marshals, who have a guest but no idea where to send him. I walk up and am told Andrew Mcquaid is going to pick him up in one of the red Skoda’s shortly. I advise him to try ringing him, then after a couple of laps take him down the deviation, where he does eventually get picked up. We have a bit of banter with various team members as we wait for the race to finish. Garmin and Madison Genesis are as friendly as usual, as are the Novo guys.
Suddenly it’s over and riders are coming back in. Matt Rabin (Garmin) confirms they’ve kept the yellow jersey.
Then it’s back to getting the riders in safely, waiting for them to cool down, and the teams to leave.
I walk over the bridge to see how bad it is around Sky and OPQS, and although it’s a pinch point, the marshals are doing a great job.

We get a lot of thanks as the teams make their way out, especially from Garmin and Saxo. Some don’t even acknowledge us, but again it’s been a great day. It’s fun to be part of it, and to meet new people and old friends.

Well. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this! Not long til next year now. Come and say hi if you have a chance…

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Me above having a laugh with @Joolzephoto. Pic from Kara Thomas

#keepsmiling

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