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Old 03-07-09, 09:51 PM   #1
sac02
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Am I a course marshall or a wheel truck?

I did my first road race today, but that's not the story. The race was hosted by my university, so I worked the morning "civillian" race, and raced in the afternoon. This race is somewhat unique in that about half of the 13mile loop is dirt road (what Texans and perhaps others would know as a "county road"). The fact that a significant portion of this race is run on dirt is well known, and publicized: it's been this way for a decade (maybe more?), and the name of the race is "Tunis-Roubaix".

Between a combination of imporoperly equiped riders (23c clincher tires w/ 95psi on dirt roads, and not carrying any spares) or worse than expected conditions (the county laid down fresh gravel on some sections a week before the race), the attrition rate was unbelievable, almost entirely due to flats. Flat after flat after flat. One guy that I talked to estimated that perhaps half of the P123 field had flatted within a half mile of starting the dirt section.

I course marshalled near a narrow bridge, and I drove my wife's SUV with my bike and all my gear out to my assigned location. I was parked on the side of the road about 6 miles into the course. Within 15 minutes (no exageration) no less than 3 riders had pulled up to my truck with flats. I wasn't sure what to do, so being the good-natured soul I am, I gave the first two the extra tube out of my gear bag, and then the one out of my seat bag. A minute later when the fellow with the third flat rolled up, I could tell he was mad, and he got off the bike yelling, "Hey you, you got a wheel in there? Give me a wheel!" I told him I had already given out the only two tubes I had, and I was sorry but I was keeping the wheel on my bike. He cussed and p!issed and moaned and was a general a-hole about it. I just responded with what I'm sure was the most puzzled look on my face.

I felt a lot less bad for him after he cussed me for not handing over my wheels without question to him, like it was expected of me. I understand some races have neutral wheel support, but do think it was somewhat expected of me to help him out by giving him my wheel? I don't really know the dynamics of this situation, with it being my first race and all, but I don't feel I was out of line, not wanting to give up my wheel (with what was now my one and only good tube in it).

Mac

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I was a course marshal and got cussed at for not giving some dude the wheel off my bike. Was I wrong?
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Old 03-07-09, 11:16 PM   #2
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C'mon. Seriously?

If you ride those types of events, you always take your repair kit.
You can stick your wheels in the wheel truck, but you won't see them until after the race.
If you flat, you either walk or ride the rim. You don't beg for a wheel from a stranger.
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Old 03-07-09, 11:32 PM   #3
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The racer probably had some serious adrenaline going and was mostly mad at himself when he yelled at you. I'll bet he felt bad about it later. You defenitely shouldn't have given him your wheel and it was nice of you to give away your tubes.

I think it is pretty funny how many races there are in the US with gravel roads that put Roubaix in the race name. It makes me kind of embarrassed for us since a dirt or gravel road is nothing like cobbles.
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Old 03-07-09, 11:59 PM   #4
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Was this a USAC sanctioned event? If so, you should have written down the A-hole's race number and had him reported so he can get a warning to think about. I'm also not sure if you should have given out your tubes. If support is not provided by the event, it should not be given.
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Old 03-08-09, 12:18 AM   #5
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I'll bet he felt bad about it later.
Unlikely.
You described what I call "race head" in which seemingly reasonable people lose their grip on reality during race situations. He'll have no recollection later of what he said or did. He'll only have stories about how someone else messed up his chances of winning.


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It makes me kind of embarrassed for us since a dirt or gravel road is nothing like cobbles.
Depending on the weather leading up to the race, those dirt roads can be arm-breakers.
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Old 03-08-09, 03:19 AM   #6
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I was picked up last week after walking a while in the cold, rain. I swear a pot hole just jumped out in front of me. There was another gent in the truck. The whole way back to the start he was swearing and carrying on about how expensive his tubulars were. How the bike shop better refund him. This, that, blah, blah. I wanted to tell him to give it a rest.
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Old 03-08-09, 05:56 AM   #7
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Was this a USAC sanctioned event? If so, you should have written down the A-hole's race number and had him reported so he can get a warning to think about. I'm also not sure if you should have given out your tubes. If support is not provided by the event, it should not be given.
Yes, it was USAC sanctioned. He didn't treat me so badly that I felt the need to get him in trouble, I was more amused at the utter shock and indignation showing on his face when I said Sorry, you can't have my wheel. He truly expected I would hand it over like I was his domestique and he was my GC rider. I understand that he was in the moment and very upset, probably like a LOT of people at that race who showed up improperly prepared and whose day was done after getting two flats in the first five miles. I do feel sorry for those folks, and hope they aren't so upset that they bad-mouth our club's event.

Regarding me giving out my tubes, I hadn't even considered that it may have been against the rules. I will definitely try to get more clarification on what the rules on that are next time I work an event.

Mac
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Old 03-08-09, 07:49 AM   #8
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The racer probably had some serious adrenaline going and was mostly mad at himself when he yelled at you. I'll bet he felt bad about it later. You defenitely shouldn't have given him your wheel and it was nice of you to give away your tubes.

I think it is pretty funny how many races there are in the US with gravel roads that put Roubaix in the race name. It makes me kind of embarrassed for us since a dirt or gravel road is nothing like cobbles.
i'll admit i've done that before, in a slightly different situation involving basic medial care. i went back and apologized profusely after the adrenaline edge had worn off, but definitely felt like an @$$.
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Old 03-08-09, 08:42 AM   #9
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I did that race. The rate at which people were flatting in just the first mile of the race was just unbelievable. A real war of attrition.

I wouldn't use the term 'gravel' to describe that stuff. I think 'rocks' might be the technical term.
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Old 03-08-09, 10:39 AM   #10
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Pic here. Sorry I missed it. Roads like this, I love to ride - with 32c Armadillos. NOT 23c race tires.

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Old 03-08-09, 11:42 AM   #11
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I think it is pretty funny how many races there are in the US with gravel roads that put Roubaix in the race name. It makes me kind of embarrassed for us since a dirt or gravel road is nothing like cobbles.[/QUOTE]

A better name for the races, but Montepaschi Strade Bianche-Eroica Toscana would be harder to pronounce.

Montepaschi Strade Bianche-Eroica Toscana
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Old 03-08-09, 11:49 AM   #12
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My roommate in college yelled at me when he flatted and I wasn't nearby to give him my wheel. He apologized later.
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Old 03-08-09, 01:16 PM   #13
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Pic here. Sorry I missed it. Roads like this, I love to ride - with 32c Armadillos. NOT 23c race tires.

Yes, that was one of the worser (is that a real word?) sections, the ones I was talking about where the county laid down new "road surface" (i.e. rocks) a week or two before the race. The entire five miles of off-road wasn't like that, only certain sections, and even for the "fresh rock" sections, it wasn't even that bad if you stayed in the tire tracks and had the right tires. If you didn't come to a dirt-road race with 23c lightweight race tires, and instead installed the 28c Gatorskins from your commuter and aired them to 125-125 psi like I did, it was a cakewalk.

Mac
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Old 03-08-09, 08:40 PM   #14
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Yes, that was one of the worser (is that a real word?) sections, the ones I was talking about where the county laid down new "road surface" (i.e. rocks) a week or two before the race. The entire five miles of off-road wasn't like that, only certain sections, and even for the "fresh rock" sections, it wasn't even that bad if you stayed in the tire tracks and had the right tires. If you didn't come to a dirt-road race with 23c lightweight race tires, and instead installed the 28c Gatorskins from your commuter and aired them to 125-125 psi like I did, it was a cakewalk.

Mac
That's what I did too, but I still wouldn't call it a cakewalk. Being able to steer is awesome, I'll never take it for granted again.
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Old 03-08-09, 08:59 PM   #15
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That race was my first race ever... I flatted out, the wheel truck gave me a spare- flatted again, pulled out.

Lesson learned.
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Old 03-08-09, 09:42 PM   #16
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That's what I did too, but I still wouldn't call it a cakewalk. Being able to steer is awesome, I'll never take it for granted again.
"Cakewalk" with a large is what I meant.

Mac
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Old 03-09-09, 04:04 AM   #17
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Maybe if his wheel is nicer than yours
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Old 03-09-09, 05:54 AM   #18
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Yes, that was one of the worser (is that a real word?) sections, the ones I was talking about where the county laid down new "road surface" (i.e. rocks) a week or two before the race. The entire five miles of off-road wasn't like that, only certain sections, and even for the "fresh rock" sections, it wasn't even that bad if you stayed in the tire tracks and had the right tires. If you didn't come to a dirt-road race with 23c lightweight race tires, and instead installed the 28c Gatorskins from your commuter and aired them to 125-125 psi like I did, it was a cakewalk.

Mac
not to my knowledge.
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Old 03-09-09, 08:13 AM   #19
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I always carry a spare on a road race. OTB is bad enough, OTB and walking is unacceptable. On a course like that I'd just run my CX bike. It would be faster, safer, and more comfortable.
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Old 03-09-09, 10:25 AM   #20
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Depending on the weather leading up to the race, those dirt roads can be arm-breakers.
You are right, they can be arm breakers and certainly reward good handling and smart equipment choices. I'm not saying they are not tough races, just different from cobbles. And I'm a little tired of the 'Bumblef&k-Roubaix' race names.
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Old 03-09-09, 10:52 AM   #21
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I always carry a spare on a road race. OTB is bad enough, OTB and walking is unacceptable. On a course like that I'd just run my CX bike. It would be faster, safer, and more comfortable.
+1

My cx bike with speedmax would be almost as fast on the paved sections and a lot faster on the dirt.

Why would anyone run a road bike on that terrain?
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Old 03-09-09, 10:55 AM   #22
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I ran 24 mm Pave tubulars, and managed to pinch-flat the rear in the first dirt section of the 4's race. The 23 mm Gatorskin on my pit wheel got me through the rest of the race - I kept trying to organize a chase group, but it wasn't happening.
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Old 03-10-09, 10:07 AM   #23
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I remember you by the bridge. I was in the 4/5. That was tough for anyone's first race. The course was challenging to say the least. Everyone focuses on the dirt, but the hill finish and the headwinds on the highway portion were brutal too. I thought the old Tunis course last year was easier. Anyway, the Aggies always put on a great event and everyone should give it a try. Just know what you are getting into. I ran 23c Specialized Armadillos with Slime tubes at about 120psi and I never flatted.

To answer your original question... you did the right thing. It was clearly advertised as a "wheels in, wheels out" event. You were under no obligation to provide any assistance. That was cool that you gave up a couple tubes though.
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