Now swimming, biking and running aren't really my thing. Especially, for the 12+ hours the average Ironman athlete experiences. I just don't have the attention span. However, for events like the Ironman there is a need for vehicles that can get around the bicycle and run course. AKA motorcycles.

Motorcycles can carry judges and cameramen through the packs of bikes and runners. The also can maneuver on the narrow paths that the routes include. A friend has been involved with the Ironman and other triathlons for several years and suggested that I'd enjoy participating.

I won't pretend that I volunteered out of pure selflessness. I like helping out but I also wanted an excuse to be a hooligan. To ride around on sidewalks and grass, to jump curbs and ignore traffic signals. Grass is a forbidden pleasure to dirt bikers in Arizona. This is as close as I'll ever get to ride on a golf course.

Sunday morning was early with us staging at 6 am at the start of the run course, the intersection of Mill and Rio Salado. My initial role was that of courier. Two cameramen were shooting video of the leaders and I would take it back for immediate editing and filming. I ran up the hill with the leading athletes and got an whole lane to myself on the way back. After that I was at loose ends but thankfully a cameraman from LA hitched a ride and we got back out on the course.

Part of my responcible hooliganism plan required me to have a reason to ride on grass, sidewalks, etc. A camera gave legitimacy to these plans. Joel was a hoot, and proved to be an entertaining passenger. He had a specific athlete that he was trying to keep track of, Chris Schauble, an anchor from NBC LA.

The bike route requires three loops to make the 100+ miles required by an Ironman. By the time all the athletes were out of the water (that made the cut off) it was quite crowded. 2000+ people on bicycles tend to take up a lot of space. After enough darting and dodging through bicycle traffic to make me nervous, I took to the shoulder. We caught up the Chris and Joel got some footage of him. Then I parked and Joel tried to make Arizona look beautiful. On the side of 87 it's quite a challenge this time of year. Brown pokey things aren't the most scenic foliage to shoot.

We headed back to the Mill and Rio Salado and took a lunch break. Along the way, we stopped to catch some video of the crowd. All the athletes say that spectators make a huge difference. These guys were really giving for the cause. The volunteers that are out cheering for the athletes really keeping them going and smiling.

Eventually Joel and I got back together to ride the run course. The run course rings the Tempe town lake. This was the treat and the challenge of the day. On the bike course the speed of the athletes is from 20-30 mph where running was closer 5mph. There were sections that I could parallel the runners, just off the course but others I had to ride with the runners. Idling along at 5 mph in foot traffic is challenging and a passenger only adds to the fun. There were no collisions, and I got to be a bit of a delinquent in the name of the video camera. If you ever want to make people excited to see you, bring a video camera. Joel brandished his camera and the crowd around the bridge went crazy. We chased Chris around a bit and he finished in good time.

I grabbed dinner with a friend and hobbled home around 10 pm completely worn out. There was no swimming, biking or running for me but I was completely spent. Ironmen and women are quite phenomenal.


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