Three hats and no way to sleep
Today another new experience. We did a Derney race. A derny is a small motorcycle with pedals. They sort of motor pace the riders at the end of the race. A little less than 30 riders and our two victims were Patrick Jonker and Julien Dean. Mapei had four riders and a few teams had three. The lone Canadian victim was a good friend from Saturn, Brain Wanton. Good to see him on this side of the pond. The race was 195k with two 50k circuits (w/o Derneys) followed by seventeen 5.5k circuits behind the derney. They should have just done the 17 laps behind the derney because the two big laps were so slow and very boring.
Only Freddy (soigneur) Bart (soigneur) and I went as staff. Freddy was to do his soigneur magic before the race and then drive the caravan car. Bart was the feed zone guy and obviously I was to take a nice nap in the back seat. On the way to the race Freddy got a call and was told to fly to Nice France to take care of Lance before the Olympics. When? Today? Now? OK, he said. Bart took him home to pack as he lived close to the race. Then straight to Brussels for his flight.
Where did that leave me? I now had to drive the caravan car and change wheels. Freddy prepared a few musettes before he left, so I could feed with minimal effort. No feed zone guy either so even more important. I was hoping for a calm event.
I have driven AND wrenched before once. The Tour Du Pont in 94 as a neutral mechanic for Mavic. I was the lucky 3rd car so I did not expect to do anything since every team had a car. That was a cake job as a neutral mechanic. I did have to do a wheel change though. Stop, put it in park, grab a wheel, change it, get in the car, put it in gear and go. Not so smooth or fast but I got it done.
Just before the small circuits the words “US Postal” came over the radio. Julien had flatted. Lucky it was the slow/easy part. He was able to chase back w/out too much effort. It would have been an impossible chase at Derney speed.
So I had to wear three hats and could not sleep in the car. I was the director/driver, soigneur (only one who fed our guys) and mechanic. I normally avoid doing anything soigneur related, but today I had to. Normally that is against Union by laws (mechanics are forbidden to do any soigneurs stuff). Lucky I’m Union President. I can turn the other way and not see the infraction.