The Pros

Another early rise. It is a little before 6 AM and Geoff and I are up and out the door to get something to eat. I’m normally and early riser but before 6 is a little ridiculous. But it is necessary.
After a small breakfast we are shortly outside to the Postal team truck to get all the bikes ready. Most of the other Postal riders (from other countries) had picked up their bikes. Or, should I say, their countries team mechanic came to pick them up. But we still had to bring a few more for Pena (Columbia) and Boonen (Belgium).
Geoff and I pulled out all the bikes and all we had to do was pump tires. An easy task especially since we have a bad ass compressor in the truck. Besides the 10 race bikes, 4 spares for the top of the car and 2 spare bikes for the pit we had about 5 pairs of wheels on top of the car, 2 pair inside the car, 3 pair of wheels in one pit and two pair of wheels in the second pit. All told we had to pump 28 pairs of wheels. I’m damm glad we had that compressor. That would have been like doing 300 push ups. OK it would not be my entire weight but you get the picture.
Geoff had planed on going in the caravan so I was to go to the primary feed zone/pit. I don’t mind going in the car but sometimes for me it kind of boring. Not much to see. Many people get excited when I tell them about the caravan and how we/I follow races. They think I have the best seat in the house. Sometimes it is true but normally I just see a bunch of asses. I would have love to go in the car this day but was kind of glad I did not have to. I got to relax in the pit. We had a TV in the pit so that was actually the best place to watch the race. It was live on TV. Start to finish.
In the feed zone we had three tents in a row. One for the Soigneurs, one for the riders to change and relax (with the TV and also a heater as it was typical Belgium weather today again) and one for the mechanics stuff. Right next to us was the Canadian team for the solo Charles Dione. One tent, one rider two staff. On the other side was Ireland. Again one tent, one rider but a massive 4 staff.
Then there was the Italians. Four tents. One for the soigneurs, one for the riders and TWO for the mechanics stuff. And boy did they need two tents for the mechanics stuff. The Italians fielded the maximum of 12 riders. Their team car was full. It had 7 spare bikes and 5 pairs of wheels on top and the mechanic had two pair inside. In the main feed zone/pit they had an astonishing 13 spare bikes there too. Plus about 30 pairs of spare wheels. George Noyes told me they had about 10 bikes and equal amount of spare wheels in the second feed zone/pit. If you add up all the bikes and wheels (equipment the was raced AND equipment that was for spare) they had to prepare 40 bike plus over 47 pairs of wheels. That was a truly amazing sight to see. I guess nothing was to be left to chance at the worlds. Mario Cipolini won so I guess all that hard work to prepare all that equipment paid off.
After the race the three soigneur plus Geoff and I packed up everything and started to drive the 600 or so meters to the hotel. NOT!!!!!! Freddy was driving one car (a Postal team car) the other two soigneurs drove back right away in another car. But Geoff and I were stopped. According to a Communiqu? that Jiri got (but felt he did not need to tell us) we were supposed to leave the caravan car at the race track since it was on loan from the UCI via the ASO (Tour De France). The top 25 countries were given a caravan car to use. All matched in bright white and exactly the same custom rack on top. But now it was time to give it back. Since Geoff and I did not know that (or was not given that order to drop it off) we had it packed to the gills with a ton of bikes on top and a ton of wheels, tools, work stands, tables etc. We argued till we were blue in the face that we wanted to go 600 meters to our hotel and drop all the stuff off. They said not and started to close the fence and lock us in. So, we gave up and told Freddy to go to the hotel empty his car and come back so we could transfer all the equipment in our loaner car to the Postal car so we could get the stuff back. We sat there and unloaded EVERYTHING. It was a huge pile. Geoff took the (loaner) car to the other lot and signed the papers to give the car back. Freddy came back, we loaded it all and finally got back to the hotel. A little more that and hour after the race. And we only had to go 600 meters.
My season has come to and end and I’m tired and ready to hibernate. Today was probably one of, if not THE hardest one day race work day I have experienced. Yesterday preparing the bikes and today getting everything gathered to go to the race. I’m so wasted, I don’t even want to go out and party. Not normal for me. Especially AFTER the race and even more so since it is my last race day for the year. Pillow please!


Owner of and long time professional race mechanic.