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Gremlin's Tall Stories

A peek into the world of Event Riding

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For those that don't know, I've done several triathlons, marathons, some half Ironman and also a full Ironman. I know, my physique doesn't exactly give away my athleticism... oh wait, I've done every single one on top of a motorcycle Obviously this is not how most people do it, but it's fun watching people's reactions when you try telling them you do all that sort of stuff yet weigh 100kg

It's a side of motorcycling that is seldom seen and almost harder to get into as the skills are specific and not everyone either wants to do it, can do it, or has a motorcycle suitable for it. We can travel at any speed from 5-100kph, avoiding competitors, the public, cones and doing plenty of tight u-turns as we either chase bicycles or get chased. Most events are full closed road events with only permitted access, but some I have done have been working with police to maintain a rolling road closure around the race on public roads.

One event I've done for the last few years is the Auckland Marathon. Run from Devonport to Victoria Park, there are multiple events, but the main ones we're involved with is the full marathon, half marathon and quarter marathon. There are mutiple roles, namely photographers (relatively easy as it's start stop and the pictures are mostly taken off the bike), film (hard as filming is done on the move and you have to constantly be in close proximity without being too close) and lead escort (can be hard when you're in the midst of slow people with the leaders closing on you fast).

Lead escort is sitting in front of the lead male or female and clearing a path through other competitors for them. The marathon leaves at 0600 from Devonport, the Half from the same place at 0650. The leaders in the half will often hit the last marathon walkers only a few km into it, but it only gets really busy around the buslane and then the harbour bridge through to the finish.

The runners have been alone for a while, are spread across the whole usable area and we come along acting all mean and force them to one side by tooting our horns and shouting. Most hear us at some point, but some won't understand or have music blaring and get quite the surprise when we're suddenly next to them ordering them to move. We usually run in twos, with one clearing and warning and trying to establish some order before the second bike tells people to move again, and finally the runner comes through hopefully able to keep their stride.

Half Marathon - 21km
This year we had 3 bikes on male lead half, one a newbie (had done other events, but not this role) so the best way to learn this sort of thing is in the midst listening to us, while myself and the other have done this for a couple of years already. We had comms between our helmets so could talk and push and pull each other as required. Leading a race also has the additional responsibility of knowing the course exactly. Take a wrong turn and it's likely the competitor(s) will follow you. This particular course is closed and built overnight so we can't ride it before hand and any issues are encountered and dealt with on the fly.

I finally got my arse into gear and had the GoPro up and running this year, linked to my mobile so I could check it was the right angle and I've done the most basic editing trimming it to the salient part. No music so you can hear both my voice plus the others from the comms unit. If you like music, play your own, that way you'll get exactly what you like

Quarter Marathon - 12km
Once we were in the side chute specifically for us (#1 rule is don't run anyone over, #2 is don't go down the finish chute), the others took a break for breakfast in the VIP area and would then head out to patrol the marathon along the waterfront. I headed for the North Shore to run the Quarter as well, starting from Smales Farm.

For this, there was only one motorbike each for male and female lead. We watched the constant sea of competitors until the cut off time when they were loaded onto buses instead. One of the requirements on the event is the course closing at certain times and public access being restored. For the half and marathon, if you didn't make it onto the busway by 0815 then you got transported further down.

The quarter started at 0900 and we had an easy run along the wide busway, the lead pack forming within 1-2km and only hitting backmarkers on the bridge. Progress was more tricky in the tighter areas with no extra bike to warn runners earlier.

Here's another vid, for the quarter, again, with my stellar editing oh... and my voice

After that, my voice was feeling worse for wear and it was time for a break for breakfast. Now mid-morning it was out onto the marathon course for safety patrol, but the majority of runners had either finished or well on their way back. Sorted out a few little niggles like cars getting onto the course and keeping cyclists off closed roads. This is the time when we're now Mr Nice, encouraging everyone along, checking they're OK and looking out for their safety

A debrief with the remaining crew in the VIP tent and then home, to wrap another years marathon. Started fading fast in the afternoon (0400 start will do that to you) and I had a 2 hour nana nap in the afternoon

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  1. gijoe1313's Avatar
    You missed the important bit about what you got for lunch ...
  2. Gremlin's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by gijoe1313
    You missed the important bit about what you got for lunch ...
    Two trips to the VIP tent during the event, quiche with sausage in them, bacon baps (seriously yum), french toast, slices of rock melon, winter melon, pineapple. Skipped past the fruit and muesli (that was 0400 breakfast).
  3. KoroJ's Avatar
    I didn't realise what a grumpy, bossy prick you are!!
  4. Gremlin's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by KoroJ
    I didn't realise what a grumpy, bossy prick you are!!
    I didn't film the last piece of safety patrol, where I'm all Mr Nice, how are you doing, don't worry, home stretch...

    The lead motorbike I overtake middle-ish of the first vid (new to the role) started off all really nice, commented that niceties get you everywhere etc... yeah, us other two laughed (done it for a few years). Sure enough, didn't take long (near beginning of first vid) to start shouting at people...