The Belgium switch

Saturday night almost all of our staff arrived on the evening flight from Europe. Dave flew in from Texas just before the Euros and Paula arrived Sunday. A few riders arrived Saturday but the bulk of the riders arrived Sunday. Benoit Joachim was doing the Tour of Luxembourg and it finished on Sunday so he flew in Monday night.
Just before the Belgium contingent arrived they had experienced great weather at home. It was almost in the 90s in Belgium in the days leading up to their departure for the US.
Yesterday we had good weather (not rain) but today looked like it was gonna be some wet weather. It started to rain just as we were leaving the hotel to drive to Lancaster. Racing in the rain is hard for the racers. It takes its tool physically as well as mentally. That goes the same for the staff. Soigneurs have to be prepared for it with things like more towels and dry clothing and it takes more work to scrub the warm up oils layered with road grime off the riders legs that they applied before the race.
For the mechanics it means washing bikes that are thick with dirt and grime after the race. After this mornings bike wash/prep we oil the chains as normal. But just before the race we applied a layer of grease to the chains as even the best lubricants have a tough time lasting in the rain. So that addition alone requires us to scrub so much harder to get the gritty, dirty grease/oil off the chain during bike cleaning. The rain also lets road grime to “Stick” to the rims and thus brake pads are worn at a phenomenal rate. So, it’s time to change a lot of pads now!!!! The pads are not completely gone, but even if a pad is 60 to 70% good, we need to be sure and replace them so they are as close to 100% as possible. Man, working in the rain is also physically demanding. Trying to keep warm and work at the same time. I’m super tired now.
Darn it. When did we do the Belgium switch (with the weather)?
On a side note:
The Wachovia series (formerly First Union Series and before that the Core States Series) consists of the Lancaster race, the Trenton race and the Pro Championships in Philly in a weeks time span. I’ve been here every year since 1995. In 1999 I worked with the Cox/Atlanta Velo women so I only did the Liberty classic that year. The Liberty classic is run concurrently with the Pro Championship men’s race. Both races are on the course together. The men start then the women follow. The Women’s race is shorter so there is no overlap of the races. Counting the three races per year and the one women’s race in 99, I’ve done a total of 25 race days in the Philly week(s). On only one other occasion it rained. Lancaster 1996.
I was with the Saturn team in 96 and the roster included one of my favorite riders. Steve Bauer from Canada. A great athlete and a great person too. In the pouring rain that year Steve flatted. Over the race radio, I heard “Saturn — Rear wheel for Bauer”. At this point in the race it was going pretty fast. As I was changing his wheel he said to me in a calm tone “This is going to be a hard chase back Vince”. I thought to myself that he was right and so I wanted to give him a good wheel change and a great push off. The wheel change went really fast, but most off all smooth as I checked to make sure it was in correctly.
As I was pushing him I tried to get him up to speed as fast as possible. I planted my foot for one last hard push off and as I did so my foot slipped in the rain soaked road and I fell flat on my ass. I got a good cheer from the crowd watching me that time.


Owner of and long time professional race mechanic.