Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ode to Staff...

I love a good game of 'Would You Rather?'. If you don't know what that is, just take a look here... www.rrrather.com Someone recently put this question to me... At a bike race, would you rather be a soigneur or a mechanic? That's a tough question because to me, they are both pretty unattractive propositions. 

The Soigneur...
The soigneur's role is to basically have everything ready for the riders. Their day begins when they wake up early to prepare the breakfast table for the riders. This means they have to head down, reserve a table and put out all of the 'special' food items that riders may need such as protein, different types of milk, cereals and spreads. 

Then the soigneur heads off to prepare water bottles, race food for the days stage and lunches for the riders for after the stage is done. 

After breakfast, they pack everything back up and gather everyone's luggage and pack it into the van before heading to the start line. Here they are ready with anything that the riders might need for the race including creams, oils and extra food. 

Once the stage has started, the soigneurs head to the feed zone and wait to hand out feed bags when the race goes past. 

Then it is a race against the clock as they have to get to the next hotel to check in and put all the luggage in the correct rooms. They wait for the riders to arrive and give them their room keys, wifi passwords and massage schedules. 

The soigneurs have to give every rider a massage before dinner where they again have to reserve a table and put out any special food items. 

Then it's off to bed to be ready to do it all again the next day...

The mechanic...
The mechanic's job begins on the day before the tour starts where they have to unpack and build every rider's bike as well as several spare bikes. They may have to do repairs and also spend some time checking wheels and tires and possibly gluing new tires on. 

The mechanics are also responsible for the team vehicles so they need to make sure that they are clean inside and out. 

On race day, the mechanics make sure that the bikes are ready to go at the hotel lobby and that the team cars are loaded up with anything that they may need during the day.  Riders can be very particular about their bikes so they may have to adjust things by fractions of a millimetre just so that it 'feels right'. 

During the race, the mechanic's day can be either quiet or hectic, depending on whether there are any mechanical problems. If there is, they need to be at the ready with spare bikes or wheels and prepared to hang out of the car window at 100kph holding on to the rider to fix the problem.

After the stage, the mechanics need to wash/clean/repair all of the bikes and prepare the vehicles again. 

At the end of the race, all of the bikes and equipment need to be broken down and packed into bike bags for transport. 

On top of all this, most of the time, the mechanics and soigneurs usually have to drive the team cars and buses hundreds of km's to and from races!

So to answer the question, 'At a bike race, would you rather be a soigneur or a mechanic?' I would have to say soigneur. I hate packing and unpacking my bike and could not think of anything worse then having to do it several times.

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