I met Chris and Helen this morning on my bus ride from Santa Cruz to San Jose. Chris and Helen are volunteer course marshals for the 2010 Amgen Tour of California, and they’re on their way with their luggage to the start of Stage 4 in San Jose.
These ladies — they call themselves “Tour Groupies” — flew all the way from Adelaide, South Australia, to follow the tour. Helen, you see, is mother to Jelly Belly racer Will Dickeson. She’s also his biggest cheerleader and obviously very proud of her son. Chris is a close friend and came along for the ride.
Will told me how his mother got an entire group of people at a bar to cheer for her son when he appeared briefly on the television. She seems like a riot.
After watching the Stage 1 finish in Sacramento, Chris and Helen hitched a ride on the Jelly Belly team RV to Davis, where they worked as course marshals for the race start there on Monday.
From Davis, they rode Amtrak to San Jose, and then the Highway 17 Express Bus to Santa Cruz, where they volunteered on Tuesday at the Stage 3 finish. This morning, they walked with their luggage from their hotel room to the transit center in downtown Santa Cruz, rode the Highway 17 bus over the hill to San Jose, and then walked several city blocks to the volunteer sign in area.
From San Jose, they plan to ride an Amtrak Thruway bus to Yosemite, and then on to southern California to follow the race as much as they can with public transportation.
Helen does most of the talking. She tells me she doesn’t drive much even at home — she prefers to walk to get around. “All I hear anybody else talk about is where they can find parking. I don’t need to worry about that. I don’t need to navigate. I don’t need to worry about traffic. I just sit on the bus and relax and talk to nice people like you,” she says.
She also talked about how wonderful the experience has been so far. “Amtrak [California] is so nice. It’s very clean and tidy. The service is good. Why does anybody drive?” she asks.
If you’re on the course and you see these friendly Australian ladies, tell them thank you for volunteering, and tell them Richard from Santa Cruz says ‘Hello.’