Sitting here watching the Olympics at Rio de Janeiro and listening to Chris Boardman commentating on the Road Race, I thought today would be an appropriate time to write the blog about my job on Anglesey where I met Chris Boardman, who was watching his son George race on the Anglesey Road Race, not quite the same magnificent back drop as Rio but beautiful nonetheless.
I have been a CSAS marshal for about 3 years which means that you have the powers of the police to stop the traffic on a cycle road race run by Welsh cycling. South Wales Police and Welsh Cycling run a course to train people to do these marshalling jobs to free the police to do more important jobs, we have to be re trained every 2 years in the traffic laws etc. I normally work on cycle races in South Wales but as I am staying in North Wales for a few weeks I agreed to do a couple of jobs up here and one of them was a new cycle race on Anglesey which is an island in North Wales. I have been to Anglesey before with the children when taking part in Eisteddfods over the years and we always loved it there.
The cycle race I worked on included a category 2, 3 and 4 men’s race and later in the afternoon, an all category women’s race. Unknown to me when I signed up for it, Dame Sarah Storey had registered to take part as part of her preparation for Rio Paralympics and George Boardman was riding in the men’s race who is Chris Boardman’s son.
For those people who don’t know, Dame Sarah Storey is one of the most successful Paralympians of the modern era and has won 22 medals including 11 golds. She started competing as a swimmer in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 where she picked up two golds three silvers and a bronze, she carried on swimming in the next three Olympic games, in Atlanta in 1996 she won 3 golds, 1 silver and 1 bronze, Sidney 2000; 2 silver, Athens 2004; 2 silver, 1 bronze. Her switch to cycling in 2008 at Beijing brought 2 golds and London 2012 a huge 4 golds. She has been awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) and a DBE (Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire) which is quite an achievement. It was an honour to watch her win the race and meet her after the event.
Chris Boardman who now designs bikes which are sold in Halfords, (I have a Chris Boardman bike and it’s taken me to Paris a few times and all over Wales) was also a Olympian and a British former racing cyclist who won an individual pursuit gold medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics, broke the world hour record three times, and won three stages and wore the yellow jersey on three separate occasions at the Tour de France. In 1992, he was awarded an MBE for services to cycling. He had come to watch his son cycling which he very often does at many road races around Wales and he also agreed to present the medals to the first three placed at the end of the race.
I love working on these races, but the big names added a bit more this time. I did what I usually do and stood at various points on Anglesey stopping traffic for a few minutes each time the race passed my junction and then headed back to HQ which was in Llangefni after the finish to congratulate the winners. Whenever I work on these races it is usually in a scenic area of Wales but on this occasion we had the backdrop on the beautiful Snowdonia range of mountains which showed itself only a couple of times throughout a wet and dreary day when the clouds moved for a few seconds to reveal the splendour.
There is nothing like the sound of the peloton approaching to get your adrenaline going, it is just fantastic to watch a cycle road race. Some of the cars I have had to stop to let the race pass will park the car and get out to watch the race go by. A lot of effort and a lot of competing at road races go into joining the team to cycle for your country. There is a point system in place which awards cyclists accordingly depending on the category they ride in and the amount of races they take part in and this determines their rise through the ranks to becoming an elite rider. As with all sports it is a continual race to improve your strength, performance and mental ability. It takes over your life. It’s great for me to play a part in the building of possible Olympic cyclists albeit a very small part, I love it!!
I pinched the above picture from www.visitwales.com, because it’s lush!!
While working on the road race I was working with a colleague who is from Anglesey and he was telling me that Anglesey is a member of the International Island games which is a biennial event held on a different island every time. It is for islands with a population of 100,000 or less. The games involve 14 different sports ranging from athletics and football to archery and swimming. Anglesey will be hosting the games in 2025. Next year they are in an Island off Sweden. It might be worth coming back in 2025 to watch the games.
After doing my job I did a small tour of some of the beautiful places in the South of Anglesey which are all worthy of another blog post.