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Old 08-25-2012, 07:51 PM   #31
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MsLiz, Adv's color commentator.

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Old 08-25-2012, 09:13 PM   #32
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Just my thoughts and opinions and experiences ...

So to answer the original question, " ... how does one become a moto escort ..." there are so many variables and paths.

These are just my thoughts and opinions, they aren't the corporate answer.

For me it was because I was around bicycling for so long, that it was somewhat of an easy transition into being a moto-ref. Because I raced for a bunch of years, my perception of what's going on in a race is from multiple angles. One, obviously being an official, I see things from the rules standpoint, but two having suffered on seven mile long climbs, I know what it's like to be gasping for air, while trying to catch a pack. At the same time, having spent hours and hours and thousands of miles riding elbow to elbow with dozens of other women in packs, I know how focused one has to be.

This is my personal opinion, but I also recognize how many hours a week, hundreds of miles a month, and thousands of miles a year someone has to train to be able to go out and race 85 miles on the verge of oxygen debt. There's an awful lot of dedication and time that goes into training to race. At the same time, as a former racer, I can recognize when someone is trying to bend or break the rules, without getting caught.

Okay, I'll be careful to not get on the soapbox too much. Some officials end up being an official because their significant other is a racer. Instead of hanging out at the start finish line all day, a lot of people have become officials. Interestingly, I know quite a few officials, who's SO stopped racing, and the official continued being an official.

Being an official first is a good way to become a moto-ref. You have the familiarity of the way things work, as well as who the other officials are, where the races are, and how to make things happen. Several people I know either got a bike, or did the moto training course, and started being a moto-ref.

In all fairness, there's a training period and levels of moto that one has to go through. One would start out as a C moto, then eventually, and we're talking a couple of years of doing races, become a B moto, then with more training, more official training and experience, and more races, one can become an A moto. The moto-refs who work the Colorado and Utah and other NRC races are all A motos. They've been around for a long time, and seen and done it all, or almost all. Let's say they've earned their stripes.

To be honest, being a moto-ref at the regional level is a lot of fun. A lot of races won't have a need for a moto-ref, but the ones that do will need one, two, three, or maybe four or five motos. But the way it works is most of the time, each moto goes out with a different category of racers. There would be an official in a car, and a moto-ref for each race.

I could go into the levels of all the categories, but in sum, the categories would be on the men's side, Cat 5, Cat 4, Cat 3, Cat 2, Cat 1/Pro, and then there are the Masters categories that start with say 35 to 45, 45 to 55, 55 to 65, 65 and up. So at any given event, including the women's categories Cat 4, Cat 3, Cat 2, Cat 1/Pro, there could be between 5 and 30 different races in a day.

Generally, each categories race is manageable with a police vehicle, pace car, moto, officials car (Com 1), and a wheel van. So this is a different animal than the Colorado race with 40 +/- motos and dozens of team vehicles, officials cars, police, pace, and sweep vehicles.

In the local races, you're right in the middle of it all, and basically reacting to just about everything's going on in your race. Local races most of the time are not full enclosure races. Instead we only have from the yellow line to the white line, in the right lane. The racers are barred from crossing the yellow line, basically to keep them from getting hit by a car coming the other way. We usually don't have moto-marshals up ahead. Instead we might have a police car and a pace car, and then us, moto-ref. We all try to slow down the approaching cars as best as we can. That's not always easy. But our main focus is keeping the racers safe.

We multi-task. At one moment we might be relagating a racer who attacked from the middle of the pack, by obviously crossing over the yellow line into the other lane and advancing to the front and trying to break away. What relagating means is if someone does something wrong, we ride up to them and get their number, and tell them to fade to the back of the back. That doesn't sound like much, but if the pack is 100 riders, it'll take the offending attacker a while to get up in the front. If they do it again, which they rarely do, either we relagate them again, or pull them from the race. The tough part of enforcing this rule is a lot of times people just cross the yellow line because the pack swells out wide, and then strings back out long, depending on the terrain, situation, if there's a water bottle that drops, or someone gets a flat.

Sorry, I get off on details. At the same time, if there's a break away up the road, we might be with them and radioing back time marks, to the following official, who's with the pack. In that case we might say ".... time mark is going to be a giant squirrel statue on the right side of the road. Mark in three ... two ... one ... now .. " They click their stop watch, and let us know how far ahead we are, and then the moto can communicate that to the leaders, and also go back to let the pack know.

This is a VERY good account of what it's like to be a moto-ref.

Check out the link.

A Taste of Moto Referee's Work


Another motor referee role is to ride about 100 ft to the rear and outside of the peloton. What's a peloton? Well, it's the main group of riders comprising a bicycle race. I found out, there's actual physical advantages to staying within the peloton until you decide to make your "attack" on the race leaders. Within the peloton, you get to draft off the racers in front of you, and the vacuum created by the racers in front of you aid in letting you keep up while not expending as much effort as the guys on the forward edge of the peloton. I was told the difference can be as much as 40% less effort expended by the racers to the rear of the peloton than what's being expended by the guys at the front of the peloton! As you might imagine, the faster bicyclists in the breakaway group in front of the peloton are working even harder.


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Old 08-25-2012, 09:25 PM   #33
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Thank Liz for telling us the behind the scenes stories. Great info!
All things being equal... fat people use more soap
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Old 08-25-2012, 09:50 PM   #34
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The path to moto marshalling ...

Okay so moto-marshals, the majority have been doing this for quite a while. The gaggle of moto-marshals that you see at the Colorado race, most would be moto-refs or have years of experience being a moto-marshal. However, at a race like this, there is usually a need for more marshals than want to travel across the country to get to the race, so local motos come into play.

I will say though, as RobStar mentioned, for every position, there were probably several other people who would love to do it too. The thing is, the races like Utah, California, and Colorado are the big show. They are the races that get televised, that people see. They are as close as we in the USA get to having our own smaller versions of the Tour de France. Everyone wants to be involved.

Instead, my suggestion is to find out what the regional races are. Get in touch with the moto-refs and promoters and organizers, making your intentions known that you would like to be a moto-marshal for those events. Get your feet wet, start small. It's a good way to get to know everyone.

Here's my view on things, relative to a big race. For better or worse, i have the honor of being the moto-marshal coordinator for the Philadelphia International Race. That means I get to gather 30 +/- motos to be marshals. On the day of the race I coordinate them with the couple of dozen moto-refs, police motos, and TV/Photo-motos. I also cull out my VIP motos to take people for rides. It's like herding cats, but fun to do.

With that race, the majority of the moto-marshals have been doing the gig for years, and I mean a LOT of years, and they are mostly local. There are some who have come from far and wide, and then there are people that I've chosen because I've seen them moto at smaller events. It goes like this "Tom, you did great at Bennington, want to come down and do Philly with me?"

Please know, that my experiences are not the only way that people become motos, and I would love to hear people chime in and share how they got involved. Truthfully, hearing from others, would be good for everyone, don't you think?

So here's a story about someone just getting a phone call to be a TV-moto in an odd sort of situation.

Click on the link ..

Off Road ST


Turns out that the caller's from our motorcycle safety program headquarters. They've received a call from a small TV network that covers sporting events in the Northwest. The station's owned indirectly by Paul Allen of Microsoft, Trail Blazers, and Seahawk's fame. Seems they've recently covered a local runner's marathon. One of their camera operators rode backwards on a motorcycle and they got great footage. The Head Honcho was looking for a repeat on a track and field cross-country meet being held at Lane Community College. They were willing to pay $200.00 for the day and needed a good rider.


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Old 08-25-2012, 10:22 PM   #35
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USAC MotoRef Program ...

Here's a bit of information about the USA Cycling moto-ref program.

This is the link.

Motoref Program Overview

The USAC MotoRef Poster Boy is an ADV Inmate. If you ever meet him, ask him about his "hot rod Jetta/Golf". Tell him I sent ya.

C-MotorRef (C-MR)

  • Cat C or better license at time of first motoref clinic
  • Successfully completes current clinic
  • Entry Level Official
    • Works C, D, & E events
    • Works B events only if under the tutelage of an experienced motoref

  • Detailed resume documenting 10 road events as a C-MR
    • At least 5 events as circuit or road race events
    • At least 2 events as lead or follow moto of a criterium
    • At least 2 time trials events
  • Two recommendations from A-MR or combination of B-MR and international commissaires
    • Based on personal observations
  • Works up to B event with limited team cars
  • Works A level events and international events under the tutelage of A-motorefs

  • B Road Officials License
  • Takes and passes level A-MR course
  • At least two seasons as a B-MR
  • Resume documenting 15 events as a B-MR
    • At least 10 circuit or road race events
    • At least 3 events at the National Calendar level, at least two of which are different events and at least one of which has a team car caravan
  • Three recommendations from A-MR and international commissaires
    • Based on personal observations
      • One recommendation from Motor Commission
      • One from an International Commissaire (road)
  • Works all events
MVR Check

Every year, all motorefs must go through the MVR process via Please click here for information on how to do that.
This process checks your driving record and issues a green light or red light determination. The factors that would lead to a red light would be a DUI or a vehicular manslaughter, as well as too many speeding tickets. The cutoff is three moving violations in three years. When you are at three in three, you are marginally acceptable and it will probably take longer to complete the check as the company may want to do some more research. If you have more than three moving violations in three years, you get an automatic red light.
If you get a red light, there are several options:
  1. You don’t get an officials license that year.
  2. We remove the motoref certification, reissuing it as a “P”, and you can officiate but not drive.
  3. You challenge the finding and get your MVR cleaned up.
  4. You appeal the decision to deny the motoref certification and our risk management team will make a decision.
In most cases, after a year some of the tickets have fallen off and you can continue motorefing again.
Please contact Shawn Farrell at if you have any questions about this.

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Old 08-25-2012, 10:37 PM   #36
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Truth is, I'm really an introvert ...

Originally Posted by wdeTA View Post
Liz, Thanks for all the info and please keep it coming. I had the privilege to work the Vail TT last year and really enjoyed it. I've also been doing triathlon moto support for many years. I had hoped to help out again at this race, but Ed had all the riders he needed. The info provided here will help me start the work to get qualified and more involved in the future. Sounds like its going to take a few years.

I didn't get the chance today in Boulder to say hi to any of the ADV motors since I stayed down in town and just watched as they zoomed by, but maybe I'll have a better chance tomorrow in Denver.

Originally Posted by barnyard View Post
MsLiz, Adv's color commentator.

Originally Posted by eddyturn View Post
Thank Liz for telling us the behind the scenes stories. Great info!

wdeTA, barnyard, eddyturn, et al, hi!

You're all welcome! As you can tell, I'm pretty passionate about this stuff.

Actually, I was going to say that it's a lot of fun, and it really is. There's something about thinking on your feet, so to speak, while riding a motorcycle, and interacting with so many other people and situations, that draws me to it. At the same time though, it can be boring, or frustrating, or the process of things can get old.

A lot of officials dread officiating the Women's Category 4 race. That's the newest racers, with the least amount of experience. They say that they are the slowest group of the racers. Truthfully, that's correct. However, having been a Cat 4, I know how it felt to be out there. They aren't intentionally going slow, instead they are pushing as hard as they can and still hoping that they will still be able to finish the 48 mile race.

Now you go out and try to ride almost 50 miles on a bicycle in two and a half hours, pretty tough, if not impossible for a lot of us. To be a Cat 4 those women are riding 4000 to 7000 miles a year. With the winter season being three months, that's about 100 to 200 miles a week. The women's Cat 1/2/Pros are riding between 15,000 and 25,000 miles a year. Different animal.

My point though is it doesn't matter how slow the racers are. I enjoy the fact that they are out there doing their thing, and totally respect them for it.

Am I making sense?

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Old 08-26-2012, 06:22 AM   #37
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You always make sense, Liz, and your posts are always entertaining. I learned a lot reading this set. My good friend ManicMechanic really enjoys being a moto and your posts have helped me understand more of what he is doing.

My son raced bicycles so I know what it is like to be the family member watching from the sidelines.
When he graduated from university, UC/Boulder made him a great offer to do his grad studies there. I got so excited telling him that he was going to love Boulder and he was just "Meh, I'd rather stay in Canada." I talked him into going for a look-see and of course he's been there ever since. And I'm still telling him that the best accessory for 2 wheels is an engine! Haven't convinced him yet...
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Old 08-26-2012, 06:35 AM   #38
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Great stuff Liz!! I didn't realize that this was so well organized.

I've had the pleasure of riding Moto for a few Ironman Triathlons in Madison. An outstanding experience!

These races are staffed by volunteers organized by the Madison BMW club. Most of the riders where on BMW's, a few Valkeries, and one Harley. Two people showed up for training on Harleys and were turned away because their bikes were too noisy .

My job has been to carry a videographer and follow the top four Pro Women -- from the time they get out of the water to just before they cross the finish line.

This includes the running portion of the race. You go from the excitement of trying to keep up with the bike portion (and these women are FAST) to trying to go slow enough to stay with the runners. As Liz said, you are very much in the thick of things.

I was paired with another rider that carried the tripod for my videographer. He'd race ahead to set up the tripod ahead of us, we'd shoot from the bike to the last minute, do a quick dismount for the tripod shot, rinse and repeat.

We start the day at the beginning of the swim, and finish after the women we are following finish -- about 9 hours later. Total ride of 250-300 miles.

This was shot in 2006, and it rained most of the day. That's my GS in the back. The VFR carried the tripod.

F650GS -- sold -- what's next?
“If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough.”, Mario Andretti

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Old 08-26-2012, 08:42 AM   #39
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My wife and I were riding west on US50 and got to watch Stage 2 pass by the entrance to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. It was impressive to watch.

Thanks for the explantations in this post as to how the marshalls work. Here's a photo of a cameraman in action.

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Old 08-26-2012, 10:32 AM   #40
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Welcome to the madness.

Remember I mentioned Colorado being one of the USA races that's sort of like our own version of the Tour de France?

Colorado is a GREAT state for a major bicycle race, with awesome mountains to climb and fanatical fans!

Climbing Flagstaff Mountain.

Note Moto-Policeperson in next two photos. Motos are everywhere!

Our ADV inmate, Colorado David.

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Old 08-26-2012, 03:44 PM   #41
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Excellent initial thread. MsLizVt thank you for your insight and information. My husband and I have been volunteer moto-marshals for the Multiple Sclerosis rides in Georgia the last couple of years. Our initial involvement came from a call through our local BMW chapter because the ride desparately needed more moto-marshals and were reaching out to everyone. We got involved and were hooked.

Since this isn't a "race" the "professional" riders usually run the century (100 mile) route and are done with the day quickly. For those of us on the 65 and 32 mile routes, we have a longer day. Luckily we don't police or time anything. We ride at a constant rate and scan for trouble. Help any riders that we can, call for the SAG (support and gear) vehicles if it is mechanical beyond our abilities or if the rider just can't make it and wants to be picked up. On really hot years we carry snacks, water and bananas and replenish riders supplies. We are supposed to prevent riding two or more wide, or with headphones. But those are difficult to enforce. We watch for signage issues, too few, confusing, or downright missing thanks to some miscreants. We chase dogs, find owners, or call for backup to corral them so we can move on.

We have absolutely LOVED being involved. You get to recognizing some riders and cheering them on whenever you pass by. Sometimes it is just the little lift they need. And I just can't understand why they are thanking us when they are the ones who raised the money and are out on some grueling hills in heat and humidity busting their rumps. They deserve the thanks for what they are doing for the charity.

Over the years it has taught us better slow speed maneuvering, riding in packs, scanning 360 and making quick decisions. We have increased our abilities and gotten our Ham radio licenses to communicate directly with Net Control as cell phones lack coverage in some of these areas and they aren't real time to keep up with the turtle (last rider and associated SAG vehicle behind them). We have begun pursuing involvement in local races to see about getting our certifications.

I can't tell people enough how fun, stressful, grueling, rewarding, challenging this is. I may be patrolling the 65 mile route, but I have ridden 180 miles going back and forth along it, keeping people safe. It may be 96F but I am in ATGATT because I am no help to anyone if the ambulance is coming for me. We are sweating buckets and trying to stay hydrated...and just loving being involved with all these people.

A couple years ago I put together a video for our leaders to use as a promotional. Our volunteer numbers aren't too good down here.

So thanks to all who have expressed interest. Even if you don't get certifications for the big races, the little races or charity rides can always use help.
If you want to achieve greatness stop asking for permission.

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Old 08-26-2012, 05:08 PM   #42
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Most interesting. Thanks.

I have a whole new appreciation for the production.
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Old 08-27-2012, 02:13 PM   #43
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Got the chance to talk to Ed Dailey, the race Regulator, briefly after the Denver stage. Here he is with his customized HiViz bike

and his interview on 9 news

For those like me who worked last years Vail TT and hoped to work this years, he said that with the start and finish right next to each other, and the addition of all the Denver Motor Cops who wanted to work it, they had way more bikes than needed. Given the number of vehicles I saw with each bicycle he wasn't exaggerating.

For those that didn't catch it, there was apparently a minor accident with one of the bikes on Saturday.

"During Saturday's USA Pro Cycling Challenge stage, as the cyclists began the descent into Marshall on Colo. 93, a television camera motorcycle was hit from behind by a team car, causing the motorcycle to crash.

The crash happened as racer Cadel Evans dropped out of the pack and the driver of the motorcycle also dropped back. Both the driver, Scott Schaffrick, and the cameraman, Boulder's Scott Ogle, were thrown to the ground. Ogle said he was taken to Boulder Community Hospital with minor injuries. Schaffrick was bruised, but didn't require medical treatment.

Police weren't involved in the crash and no one was ticketed, according to the Colorado State Patrol and the Boulder County Sheriff's Office.
" (Boulder Daily Camera)

Great race again this year. Only wish I could have been participating again this year instead of just spectating, but maybe with a little luck and following the helpful advice posted in the thread I'll get to work it in the future.

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Old 08-27-2012, 04:42 PM   #44
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ADV Inmate Colorado David (don't remember his actual ADV name)

Speed bump on the tight hairpin climb.

David, any comments you would care to share?

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Old 08-27-2012, 05:08 PM   #45
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Thanks for posting that photo of me, it looks like I have a new nickname here now ( Colorado Dave ha ha ha). I just glanced over the other photos on this link, and I would take a while to comment on them all. The photo of the French TV bike was taken about a year ago when they were using their K1100 LT's. They are now using 11 2011 R1200RT's and are buying some 2012 R1200GS's for some of the rougher one day classics (They liked how well my 2010 R1200GS was working for me). They change the alternators out to the higher output authority bike unit and they also change the final drive unit so that they can climb at a slower speed. I have to start using the clutch at between 6.4 and 7.2 MPH, depending on the steepness of the hill. The French Driver, Fabrece Roche, is a great driver (as he proved when he raced 5-6 Dakar rallies) and we have worked on many races together. The Blue R1100RT (Moto 2) is driven by ex-desert racer Bill Diaz. He is a wonderful driver and very pleased that he will be joining me in Europe in 2 weeks for the Tour of Britain bicycle race. We will be using stock BMW R1200RT's for that. Thanks for everyones enthusiasm for this!
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