A sougneur/mechanic hybrid.
I want to clarify first off that the soigneur/mechanic of the title is not me. If it was (and I’m hoping it will never be me) I’d call myself the MECHANIC/Soigneur hybrid. Emphasizing the primary (and most important) job. The mechanic. I take great pride in not making bottles, doing airport runs or anything that is Soigneur related. I’ve never been 100% free of soigneur duties but I try. But my efforts to be soigneur (task) free is sort of conflicting with the story below.
So, having said that, I’ve seen a soigneur that will give some if not many mechanics a run for their money. This is not something that has just presented itself to me. I’ve seen him a lot. In fact, I work with him. Dave Bolch is our team soigneur for US Postal and I also worked with him on the Saturn Team in the past.
On my drive to Austin for December camp, I stopped by his house to have Thanksgiving dinner with him and his wife. On a side note and a separate issue all together, Dinner with him and his wife is the third time EVER in my LIFE that I have not eaten thanksgiving dinner with my parents. Sometimes I technically had dinner AT my uncles house but also always WITH my parents. Once a few years ago, I had thanksgiving dinner with the Team Sports (Saturn, Volvo-Canondale, Saeco-Timex) mechanics. We were all (sort of) away from out parents/family. So Dave A, Dave P, and Christophe E.(if memory serves me right) all had a great turkey day dinner in Milwaukee (Ma Fishers to be exact). It was a complete turkey dinner with all the usual dishes. Fun for me for sure.
So, the real part of the story. I’ve always known he was a mechanic. At least he tells me he is/was. He has told me he worked in a local bike shop when he lived here in Austin. He tells me about trips with the national team (and the national team mechanic — You know who you are) where he would help put base layers of glue on the tubulars. Or other tasks to help the mechanic at that time (from time to time). Dave and I have a great working relationship. We really try to help each other. So I can easily see his eagerness to help the mechanic who ever that may be. More so than is typical of Euro mechanic/soigneur relationships. The exact opposite actually. Because Dave tries his best to help me, I try my best to help Dave and sometimes I will be caught doing some soigneur tasks.
He tells me he even went to the mechanics clinic and got certified and licensed by the USCF (now USA cycling). I’ve visited Dave a few times now from trips across country. At his home in Lubbock he has bikes in his garage. A few bikes actually. Bikes that have been solely taken care of by him. Bikes assembled by him. Piece by piece. Bikes that have wheels that were hand built by him. We are in an age of prebuilt wheels. Soon there will be mechanics that will not know how to build a wheel. But, Dave will. After looking at Dave’s bikes. I think I would be happy as a clam if I had Dave to help me as a team mechanic at races. He would do a great job. He is licensed, knowledgeable and competent and probably most of all meticulous/anal. Details are important and Dave pays attention to detail. You need a job Dave? Whenever you want to quit as a Soigneur let me know.
OK, now to rate Dave. I’ll keep this short. On a scale of 0 to 100 with 100 being the best. I’m going to give Dave a 90. I’ve deducted 5 points for having the label on the rims (wheels he built) facing the wrong way. I’m into aesthetics as well as function. I thought a detailed oriented man like Dave would do this. I’m gonna take off 5 points for being a Soigneur. Sorry Dave. You can’t be a perfect mechanic if you are a soigneur also. But you are a soigneur/mechanic hybrid.