Sunday, September 15, 2013

Tour De Farce Part 2

As mentioned in my last blog, I've never worked a professional cycling race before and there was a steep learning curve for me to negotiate.  The old pros who were working for the likes of Velo News or from the big news agencies like Reuters and United Press International gave me the hairy eyeball until, after many requests, I was given a TV vest to wear which gave me almost unlimited access to the riders and their teams not to mention a choice spot at the start and finish lines of each stage.

During the whole tour I was impressed by the cameramen and photographers who would jump on the back of motorcycles that would roar ahead of the tour and allow the operator to get moving shots of the racers in action.  I was asked several times if I'd like to have a try but I'd find some excuse to beg off.  No way was I going to stand up with a 30 pound camera on my shoulder on a swiftly moving vehicle with nothing to hang onto, drifting around corners, darting in and out of traffic for hours on end.

By accident while looking for somewhere to eat, I came across a whole village that had been set up in the parking lot of a local hotel.  A bevy of team members busily engaged in scrubbing each bike and then hosing off the clouds of suds.  When I asked if cleaning off the bikes helped with the aerodynamics of the bike, a young lady explained that it was easier for the mechanics to detect problems with the bike if the bike was clean.  She aslo told me she was soigneur.  Telling her that I was sorry to hear that, I walked off to my vehicle to find dinner.  While chowing down and reading the technical guide for the tour, it was then that I discovered that soigneur:  "are assistants responsible for feeding, clothing, massaging, and escorting riders; from the French for the "one who provides care".  Another lesson learned.

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