Cleveland Township couple enlist to help other cyclists
On Sunday, the Cleveland Township residents were “working out” as road marshals and cheerleaders.
The couple were among the 250 volunteers needed for the fifth annual Cherry-Roubaix that concluded with the Michigan State Road Racing Championship around Cedar.
“We like to get involved,” Tom Sutter said. “We do a lot of ski and running events and we’ve always appreciated the volunteers.
“We’re not competitive cyclists, we’re recreational riders. So this is our way of giving back.”
Volunteers like the Sutters, and dozens of others from Leelanau County, are priceless, according to race organizers.
“You couldn’t begin to do anything without these volunteers,” said Traverse City’s Bob McLain, owner of McLain Cycle & Fitness and founder of the Cherry-Roubaix. “They’ll do anything and they came out and spent days with us.”
The Sutters, who live just north of Sugar Loaf Mountain, were covering the intersection of Narlock and Sullivan Road. Tom had a stop sign to stop or slow traffic attempting to continue on Narlock. Marnie clanged a bell showing her support of the cyclists competing on the 23.3-mile loop.
Both also shouted out words of encouragement to the participants as they had just made it up “heart-break” hill which also served as the King of the Mountain (KOM) hill.
“Good job,” Tom added.
Tom Sutter volunteered at last year’s race. He worked the intersection of Popa Valley Road and Schomberg which were not a part of this year’s rerouted course.
“It’s nice to see them climb the hills which isn’t a problem for the hardened group here,” he said.
Tom Sutter said volunteering in Leelanau County, especially for events that have to do with trails or cycling is easy.
“The bike clubs and TART Trails do such a wonderful job of making things safe and provide exercise and activity for the public,” he said.
Suttons Bay Township’s Joe Bottonhorn was a road marshal at the corner of Dufek and French roads.
“I bicycle this a lot and there is more action here because you can see the cyclists coming,” said Bottonhorn, who was assigned his intersection which was No. 10 on the course.
Bottonhorn, who is also a recreational cyclist, said volunteering was a way to get close to the action.
“I’m no where even close to this level,” he said. “But it’s fun to be a part of the action and help out.
“It takes a lot of volunteers to do this. And it’s not an all-day commitment. If I wasn’t here, I’d be mowing the grass or something.”
Bottonhorn was at the site for a big crash in the women’s Pro division as first-lap leader Johanna Schmidt failed to negotiate the right turn from Dufek onto French Road.
Schmidt put on her brakes in the middle of the intersection, skid down on her right side and flipped over into a ditch.
Bottonhorn moved quickly to make sure Schmidt was OK. After collecting herself, Schmidt got back up and finished the race.