Exergy Tour Recap - Stage 4

I've been so focused on the marathon the past few weeks (I finished and will blog about it soon!) that I haven't been following women's cycling as much as I'd like.  Since today all I'm doing is recovering, I had time to follow the tweets as the Brainwash Tour finished in Holland and see Marianne Vos win yet another race. It was her 4th consecutive Holland Ladies Tour victory - what an athlete!  Team Specialized-Lululemon had a good week in Holland with a couple wins and Evelyn Stevens claiming 2nd overall.  Hard to believe that just over 3 months ago, summer was just starting and Evie and the Team were dominating The Exergy Tour.  Just like Marianne Vos, they've been at the top of women's cycling all season and I look forward to seeing awesome results at Worlds which starts in less than 10 days.

Since Labor Day has passed, I figured I better wrap up my Exergy Tour recaps.  If you haven't read my previous Exergy Tour blogs, might be best to start here. I volunteered full time as a Traveling Course Marshal (TCM) for The Exergy Tour in May and as time permits, I've been posting my experience Stage by Stage.

After a thrilling mountain stage that included feed zone duty and bottle pick-up, but also more cold weather, I was excited to wake up Monday (Memorial Day) and wear shorts (not long underwear and pants) for the final Stage.  Stage 4 was short at 47miles but was back in Boise and had plenty of opportunity for excitement with 3 loops around hilly Hidden Springs and a screaming finish into Hyde Park.

I met the team at the hotel and we quickly admired our water bottle bounty from Stage 3, then everyone grabbed a couple for souvenirs. We had a short drive to the Start/Finish and the weather was ideal for a final day of TCM activity before all heading our separate ways back home.  There was lots of talk about who was working Tour of Utah and the USA Pro Challenge and I hoped to do both, but when August arrived, work and life got in the way.  Once you spend a week with a group of passionate cycling fans, you get the bug and even though it is volunteer duty, it's something that you actually think about doing with your vacation days.  For me, supporting women's cycling specifically was even more important so I'll be sure to have days available for Exergy Tour 2013.
Exergy Tour Stage 4 - Boise
Even though is was only 9am, the Start area was rocking!  Music was blaring and people were either walking around with coffee or hanging out at one of the many outdoor restaurants.  We had a little time to wander around since we were covering the first few miles and then "jumping" to another section inside the 3 loops and then possibly "jumping" back to the Finish.  If you are like me, you may be wondering what a "jump" is all about but basically we were going to have a busy day and needed to be on the ball.  We headed out and because of all the busy street intersections, our van only had enough people to covered the first couple miles.  I was dropped at the first busy intersection from the Start (Hill Rd and N 15th St) and quickly realized that I needed Maura's help to cover all the traffic.  Many of the riders were warming up and expected a clear path while many motorists were trying to get where they needed before the roads were officially closed.  There were also many spectators on bikes going toward the Start.  We did have some cones, a barricade, and a police car finally parked across 15th once the first motos went thru, but it was a busy start to the day.  To make things a bit more exciting, an ambulance went flying by right when we shut down the road.  I didn't dare try to stop it!
Stage 4 Drop 1 - Hill Rd & N 15th St - before it got busy!

The riders and support cars finally came by in a frenzy and since we were so close to the start, the van was immediately there and picking us up.  We stopped every block, if not sooner, picking up the rest of Van 1.  Amazing what 3 days of practice can do, we were looking quite professional loading back up and staying on pace with the peloton.  A few of us mentioned the ambulance and wouldn't you know it, Shawn (our driver) was hit by a motorist at the start and the ambulance was for him!  He was hurting but still able to drive and told the police officer he would catch up with him at the finish. He wasn't making a big deal of it, so we carried on and started making plans for the 2nd jump.  We followed the race up Cartwright Road into Hidden Springs with huge crowds on either side cheering the peloton (and us) on.  I saw Leslie, but still hadn't seen Terry and Rob who planned to mountain bike and then watch the race.

As soon as we started into the loop, we were dropping people off again so we could take over while they "jumped" with their van mates to the Finish.  My 2nd drop was at the intersection of Dry Creek Rd and Seamans Gulch Rd, which was also a corner for the racers.  I hadn't worked a corner yet, but two of us were dropped to handle both the corner and helping the local police with stopping traffic on the 2 roads that came in.  Corner flag coordination between us was key and if you watch cycling events on TV, you can see whether or not the Course Marshals are experienced by their flag skills on the corner.  Terry loves when I point that out to him now when we watch:)  I was a bit surprised when my shoulder started getting sore and I had to switch arms.
Stage 4 Drop 2 - Dry Creek Rd & Seamans Gulch Rd - Great corner & view!
It was a perfect location to watch the race since we saw the riders coming at us and then climb away.  Unfortunately, the motorists were not happy about being stopped and waiting for the loops to finish.  All the residents had received multiple warnings about the race per protocol, but that didn't stop them from being jerks.  A few took it in stride, parked, and came to the corner to cheer on the pro athletes.  All the others, we simply tried our best but priority was course and rider safety so we turned them over to the police, which thankfully we had a few of at our location plus some local volunteers.
Stage 4 Drop 2 - before the angry motorists starting queuing up
Watching the peloton climb Seamans Gulch Rd
As the 3rd lap completed, we said our thank yous and goodbyes to the local volunteers and policemen and then crossed the road to wait for a reverse pick-up!  Another new TCM technique where the van comes the opposite direction, against the flow of the race.  We were going to try to make our 3rd drop at the Finish.  Shawn, injured and all, came screaming down the hill and we jumped in and were off.  We all loaded quickly and Shawn kept the pedal down and we made it to the loop start before the leading riders!  We got the okay from the race directors to take a left and we flew back down Cartwright Rd to the Finish.  Since we didn't have dedicated spots, we were just supposed to go see where we could help.  The Finish along 13th St was packed with people so we talked to other volunteers and just started walking down the road to help contain dogs, children, and other possible dangers.  Within a few minutes, the leaders came around the corner and sprinted to the Finish.  The crowd went crazy and for the next 20 minutes as the riders came in, the crowd continued to cheer in impressive fashion.
Stage 4 Drop 3 - 13th St - looking for the riders
Stage 4 Drop 3 - 13th St - looking toward the Finish
And that was it, my experience as a Traveling Course Marshall was complete.  What an amazing time.  We had some time before we had to be back at the van, so I walked to the podium and tried to soak in the last of The Exergy Tour.  I had assumed that Evelyn Stevens won the GC, with her effort in today's stage, but didn't know for sure until the announcements were made.  The crowds made it tough to get close to the podium (especially since Dr. McDreamy was there to give the awards) but what a great day and finish to a wonderful tour, I was tired but so excited to be a part of it.  As I walked back around the stage to go to the van, I saw several young girls waiting for autographs from the riders.  What a perfect ending to sum up what this is all about - supporting the current women racers in a sport they love while providing an environment that young girls strive to be a part of in the very near future.  Simply awesome!
Exergy Tour fans and future participants waiting for autographs
A quick regroup at the van and a stop at headquarters for our volunteer goodies, then back to the hotel to unload the van and put everything in the storage pod so it could be sent to the next race.  Goodbyes and number swapping, then I hurried back to Sharon and Rob's to help Terry pack.  We still had several hours drive and I hoped to sleep away most of it once the Exergy Tour adrenaline wore off.  Only 8 more months until the 2013 Tour!
Exergy - doing good things for the environment and cycling
(Yes, I'm staying positive and hope all the bills get paid soon so their support can continue)
Other Exergy Tour Posts:
Stage 4 - you just read it, hope you enjoyed!