Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Motorcycle Marshal - Carrying the Photographer

Tour of the Battenkill is promoted as America's toughest one day race.

BW Road Dust
Photo: ©

I rode the 124 miles of pavement and dirt of Battenkill under horsepower, and I can attest that it is a tough route. I taxied two photographers during the elite men's race. How I was assigned two photographers is a mystery to me. They worked out a drop off and pick up schedule around the 62 mile circuit. It sort of worked out.

Photo 2

Pre Race Staging

Pre Race Line Up

This race operated with a rolling roadblock. If you are outside the official vehicles, you need to abide by road rules. Inside the enclosure and you can ride the left side of the road, pass police cruisers and blow your horn at the Sheriff's car. Any questions as to why I like to participate?

Oncoming Road Closure

Moto Marshals and officials have different functions with the race. I was carrying a photographer, so I did not have marshal responsibilities.
Moto 4

Shortcuts outside of the route allowed us to get to a shoot area, park and set up in anticipation of the racers coming through. I had enough time to shoot the shooters.

Head of the Pack

I love my new Canon SX 230 with GPS. Now I just need to find the software to map the GPS locations for me. The picture quality is nice for a point and shoot.


It was my first time carrying a full sized adult who probably outweighed me. The most difficult aspect was the mounting and dismounting the bike, which was often parked in less than optimal road conditions.

The twisting and turning of a photographer did not prove to be a problem. Communication via shouting worked just fine. I had the race channel cranked up to hear instruction from the director. Frequently he would direct me to move along, away from the pack. Roll along side, get your shots, roll away. If you tried to hog the good position, you would hear the radio squawk.

Wearing the Road
Photo: ©

Feathering the clutch for miles on end to pace a bicycle is challenging work. One guy liked to lean way out, with him on the back, I would lose visibility in my right mirror. For this I needed to compensate with more full head checks.

Tour de Dust
Tour De Dust
Photo: © Barry Koblenz/

These yellow line pictures can only come from being right in there with the riders.

Yellow Line
Photo: © Barry Koblenz/

This picture, probably shot from a stationary position, shows good perspective of the aggressiveness of the course.

Mountain of dirt
Photo: © Barry Koblenz/

Moto Marshal

Moto Marshal
Photo: © Barry Koblenz/

Barry & Marco did succeed in getting their shots. And I succeeded at my first outing as a photo biker.

For information about moto marshals: Motorcycle Marshal Handbook


GerdiVwt said...

I'm impressed you rode with fidgeting photographers as passengers! And all this while riding amongst cyclists! Wow!

Last year I had my first experience a passenger behind me on my bike, while going down a winding road on a mountain side. It wasn't as hard as I expected it to be. Especially since the guy behind me was an experienced motorcyclist himself, so he knew what to do.

I did find keeping the bike upright while somebody is climbing on or off i.e. while parking, quite a challenge though.

Troubadour said...

That is awesome! I've often wondered how much fun it would be to do something like that. I can't believe you took this on for never carrying a passenger. Good for you!

SheRidesABeemer said...

Riding in the thick of things was intense. 100% focus was needed.

As I told the photographers, I have plenty of experience with a passenger, but only one, and I gave birth to her.

Chessie (Chesshirecat) said...

This has to be an exciting assignment! Things like this are opportunities that will last a life time. Telling your grand-kids will be cool.

redlegsrides said...

Looks like a lot of fun mixed in with some intense riding Gail! Nice job!

I really should look into this moto-support business....started to, then life got in the way....I imagine a sidecar rig would be a better platform for the photographer to do his/her shooting from?


Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

SheRidesABeemer said...

Dom, in this event there wouldn't have been room for a hack. Although I can see that taking pics might have been easier from a sidecar. Space was super tight, there were passing situations where the bike, the bicycle and the cars where terribly draw a breath in close.

BeemerGirl said...

Now that is just downright exciting. I see those marshalls and photographers on TV.

Husband and I regularly volunteer as MC Marshall's for the Multiple Sclerosis rides twice a year here. But since it is a charity ride, and not a race, it isn't quite the same challenge.

Thanks for the link to the PDF. Wondering if it wouldn't be more fun to start working on race marshaling too.

Anonymous said...

Have done as you did, except I carried a race marshal in the sidecar, and he would often yell at riders to stop drafting. I also at the same time had perched on, facing backwards on the 1981 Goldwing a camera person.
This was a triatholon with the bicycle race being last. This was fifteen years ago, however the camera person had a body strap and an isolation gun to hold the camera. In those days it was film not digital, which makes a whale of a difference in the weight of equipment to carry.

The most difficult part was the rural roads, riding on the extreme shoulder ensuring I kept the bike moving, and there was hopefully not too much vertical
movement for the camera guy. The race marshal was kneeling in the chair on the seat back which was removable on that particular sidecar. There were three other motorcycle in the bicycle sector, one opening one closing and another marshal. It was fun!

Ronman said...

Great post, Gail. I've been a SAG on many a bicycle ride. Never from my scooter. There were a couple of years that I helped with some bicycle races. I used my truck for these. Carrying the spare tires and wheels of the racers. Fun times.