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).
I was a course marshal and got cussed at for not giving some dude the wheel off my bike. Was I wrong?