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Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Action Medical, Essex 100 Cycle Event

On Sunday I acted in a support capacity for the charity Cycle Event organised by Action Medical. I had not marshalled a cycle event before so it was with some trepidation that I turned up at the start at the unearthly hour of 06.15. The sky on the way there had been a magnificent shade of pink and I was hoping that it wasn’t the traditional warning of wet weather to come.

The start was at Gosfield School towards the north of Essex there was plenty of parking for the riders and there was a cycle surgery for that last minute fine-tuning. The day before I had emptied out the Batribike van so that I was ready to pick up any damaged bikes or any riders that could not complete the course. I was provided with some puncture repair items, drinking water for riders, a hi-vis vest, maps of the route and a lunch voucher.
Riders at the drinks station
My first “station” was the lunch venue at Great Leighs village hall where I was the first to arrive. Very soon though there were volunteers putting up flags and banners and setting out tables for drinks. Inside, a whole catering event was going on with a marvellous buffet set out for the riders (later on I nabbed a lovely piece of chocolate gateaux). One of the attending Red Cross ambulances parked up behind me and once all the riders had left the start the cycle workshop arrived to help with any further repairs.
The first riders arrive at Great Leighs
Most of the morning was very quiet and so I read my book, but then from 9.30 the first riders started to arrive. There were three routes the Champion -100 miles, The Classic – 66 miles and the Cool – 32 miles. The lunch stop was pretty much in the middle for all routes. By the end of the morning riders were flooding in and were sitting about on the grass in the sunshine enjoying the buffet provided.
More cyclists arrive
One of the other marshals came in with a bike that needed to go back to the start and one lady competitor decided that she couldn’t complete and asked for a lift back. So with the two bikes and a passenger on board I headed back to Gosfield.
Riders were directed to facilities by volunteers
A motorbike at the rear of the ride was reporting where the tail enders were and it was decided to send me out to Finchingfield to another feed station. I stayed there until the last riders had passed. I had picked up one other bike whose rider had gone to hospital with a suspected broken collarbone.

It was then time to de-sign the course, Ralph who was in another vehicle for the day arrived and we trundled along the remaining 15 miles of course removing all the signs. This was probably the most fun part of the day, hopping in and out and stacking the signs in the back of the van. Although most of the day wasn’t very exciting that is a good thing as it meant that nearly all of the 700 entrants were able to complete the course.

The riders that I spoke to said that they had a fantastic day and that the organisation and food facilities were excellent. They were looking forward to going back next year.

The day finished with another fantastic pink sky, the sun was setting as I drove home, a full and satisfying day for my first time as a marshal.

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