Sardines and “The tire guy”

February 14 – 17, 2007
Tour of CA — The days before

I drove from home to San Francisco Wednesday after dinner. I wanted to
at least get there and get set up. Meaning, mainly park the truck and
get a good spot. I got there and the parking lot was fairly full. Quick
Step had flown in a full 5 days before the race. Why? I have no clue.
Maybe they had some media stuff and/or Sponsor stuff to do since their
bike sponsor was near by in Morgan Hill.

Apparently the race organizer invited two more teams at the last
moments/days before the race. Two teams does not sound like much but
since it is two Pro Tour teams that means a full squad with a full staff
as well as a slew of vehicles. Each team has 8 riders, 2 directors, 3
soigneurs, 2 mechanics and maybe 1 press officer. And each team will get
(from the Organizer) 1 small camper/motor home, 1 small (15 foot box)
box truck, 2 mini vans and 2 cars. So, adding two teams adds 32 people
(requiring 20 hotel rooms) and 12 vehicles.

We are like sardines in the parking lot.

Last year we had an AMD site visit at the West coast half of the
companies headquarters. This year we did not. Levi got the solid deal.
With no official sponsor obligations, he stayed home till the very last
moment. The race had an official team presentation in Sausalito in the
North Bay on Friday. Levi drove from Santa Rosa to attend the team
presentation and returned home that same evening. Then Saturday after a
daily (I’m sure relaxing and easy) training ride at home, he drove down
to the team hotel here in San Francisco. Something to be said for
sleeping in your own bed as often as possible and also doing a training
ride to your exact needs at home.

The mechanics here for us are Julien Devriese (our teams head mechanic),
Chris Van Roosbroeck and I. Last year we had three mechanics and it was
nice. For most days (normal road stages) I think two mechanics are
enough. But for time trial stages, it is nice (and almost necessary) to
have three mechanics.

Julien loves Ice Cream and this trip was not an exception. So both
Friday and Saturday we took a short drive across the highway to
Burlingame to a local Ice Cream shop. Once inside there was only one
lady and her small girl. She was ordering and then turned around to
glimpse at us, turning back to finish her order. She peaked at us twice
more and then blurted out “Are you the tire guy?” to us. But more
specifically to Julien.

Apparently she had seen the OLN show reflecting the behind the scenes of
the Discovery team. Specifically the episode with Julien and the tire
basement that is like a wine cellar. Julien ages the tires for maximum
performance. And she saw that episode. Julien Devriese AKA the tire guy.