Riding on Home

It was my last day at the Commonwealth Games and it started off with quite a colourful display of what you would expect to find in Glasgow on Saturday night/Sunday morning. As I went down to leave the whole of the city centre in the early hours was full of revellers as I made my way to Commonwealth House. I could’ve taken the taxi there but I thought it would be quite interesting if I saw it all before me along the route. I wondered what it would’ve been like on a normal night if the Commonwealth Games were not on. Luckily the police and event security had the barriers in place as this was the road cycle race.

I was the first to make it to the house and I signed on and got some caffeine in my system pronto. It was my last ever early start having got up by 4 am and arrived there at 6 am. I was determined to make the most of it. I was sad to see the last of the games but I felt like I had my life very fulfilling having embarked on a great adventure and done the best job I could ever ask for. Well after I was put on the bus without my team leader in tow I had to see to it that everyone wasn’t lost. So we waited until our team leader Iain arrived and I got in position straight into my position. I had a really good viewing and marshal point, right at the top of the hill of St Vincent Street where I could see both ends of where the riders would go into the corner.

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When the race started it was a great site. All the people came out in full face to see the riders. It was quite tricky managing the crowd keeping them at bay so there wasn’t any kind of collision. I had seen images of the Tour de France on TV where the riders have often come under ambush from the side-lines where the spectators have got up close with their cameras and banners almost causing the riders to crash. Here on St Vincent Street it was a completely different story. I started to think that the riders were fast on the straight parts of the track as I had seen in London two years ago. Here however Glasgow’s hilly streets were like mountains layered with tarmac. At my position the riders were struggling to get up the hill and they were precariously careful not to lose their grip. As I watched them climb the hill it was like watching a Formula 1 driver get up a mountain hill on a rally track. It was even more dangerous as I could see that they were followed by a convoy of service cars which had to navigate the tight bends on the race circuit.

If the riders were having to conquer the roads of Glasgow then the Clyde-Siders had to brave the weather on all fronts. In the morning the woman’s race was quite fun and I had to brave the elements of a mild morning with a small shower in the daylight as the woman’s race went down without too much trouble. I got a little bit wet but fortunately my cagoule held the rain back for me. It was after my lunch break when things really started to get the better of me. I was marshalling for the men’s race with a bit more staff to help this time, blowing my whistle to keep the crowds at bay. The race got off rather well but five or six laps in the heavens opened up and I got the wettest I could’ve been in Glasgow for the first time in my life. We got so soaked to the skin we had to keep ourselves warm before we caught our death. Some of the male cyclists couldn’t cope and we had three give up and pull out. It wasn’t a pretty picture but for the like of me I felt like Glasgow was crying out for me to hold onto the city and stay there for good. Well rest assured I never my left my post and braved and survived the rain. When it came to the end of my shift I didn’t wait for the shuttle bus because my marshal point was just the down the road from where my flat was.

When I got home I could feel the end was nigh. I had a great time and I just didn’t want to go. I felt like David Tennant’s Dr Who when he was just about to regenerate and he looked back on his past friends thinking about the wonderful people he had for company. When he retreated to the TARDIS he said ‘I don’t want to go’ and changed his appearance once more. I couldn’t change my appearance for tonight, I wanted to celebrate the closing ceremony with my Clyde-Sider kit on. So I didn’t change, unlike all the others who had to get out of their gear and take a shower having been in that torrential downpour only a few hours earlier. At first I went to Waxy O Conner’s where the triathlon Clyde-Sider team were getting together. I had hoped that there would be a TV screen and some of us would be chatting over a pint watching the closing ceremony on TV. However it wasn’t as I expected so I had dinner and said all my goodbyes to most amazing people I have ever worked with and I hope to them again someday. I felt really fortunate to have these people in my life, along with me they were the friendliest and the best volunteers any city and any games would be lucky to have. I had made many new friends and gained a new outlook on life and realised just how fond I was of people and understood the value of friendliness towards others. Glasgow’s slogan is ‘People make Glasgow’ and I was one of the hard working friendly faces who made Glasgow welcoming, friendly, vibrant and exhilarating. I felt like I had been adopted by the city and it’s people as I had become one of them. I always thought I would find a place where my abilities would be really appreciated but I never knew it would be this far. It just goes to show that the further you travel the more likely you are going to find your true destiny.

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I ended up going to Merchant City where some of the locals were watching the closing ceremony on the big screen. I was in the company of some other Clyde-Siders who were watching it along with probably all the residents of Merchant Square. There was a number of speeches where the Commonwealth Games leaders thanked the the volunteers who had all given up their free time and shown their dedication and services to the athletes and the city and people of Glasgow. We truly made Glasgow 2014 the friendliest games ever and the best games there have ever been. We danced and sang along as Kylie Minogue took the stage straight after the Gold Coast accepted the baton to host the next games in 2018. I joined hands and sang along as ‘auld Lang syne’ played in the stadium. It was great to be here and I got a great deal of gratitude from some of the locals who thanked me for being here. Two ladies came up to me and thanked me for all my hard work. I responded by saying ‘I’m glad to have come all the way from Essex to work here as a Clyde-Sider. I wouldn’t want have missed this for world and it was a privilege to be here as a Clyde-Sider.’

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