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RACE SUPPORT: Driver, Mechanic and Beast of Burden

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RACE SUPPORT: Driver, Mechanic and Beast of Burden

Old 09-03-10, 10:50 AM
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RACE SUPPORT: Driver, Mechanic and Beast of Burden

It's been a while since I've been here and it feels...odd...to say the least.

My team has a qualifying race on Sunday for 1 of 4 slots in the 2011 Tour de Taiwan (UCI 2.6?).

Basically, we have to be one of the top 4 teams in this race to earn a berth in the 2011 TdT for local teams. There will be 4 Taiwanese teams and 10~12 foreign teams. Most of the foreign teams will be Continental teams or National teams from Asia. Occasionally Healthnet or the like will send a team from the US or Merida will send some of it's European riders.

It is an Asia UCI Calender Race so it works under UCI rules. This means the organizes must provide hotels, support vehicles and a bunch of other stuff for the 9 day race. This makes it much more cost friendly for our team!

The only glitch is that only Taiwanese riders can do the qualifying race even if the team that actually rides in the TdT has foreign riders filling the allowed 2 of 6 spots. This means I can't ride the qualifier but I could do the TdT (which I have done 3 times in the past but won't do again - most likely).

Ultimately, this means I'm the guy driving the team car for the race on Sunday. I'm having a beer and packing up the wheels, coolers, water bottles, BCAA 8000, race radios and spare everything but I am NOT packing my kit or my bike.

Weird, non?

My job will be to drive the guys to the race hotel tomorrow, lug stuff everywhere and generally take care of the talent. On race day I will do more of the same and then drive the team car in the race caravan to do feeding and mechanical support with one other peon (actually it's one of our sponsors and he is excited).

I've done this before when injured and this is no problem but the mental shift in gears from racer to slave is a pretty tough one to make.

Who else, in the vast reaches that is BF, pulls double duty for their team or club? I'd like to hear from the unsung heroes that pass up the bottle, change out the wheels, drive behind the race just in case they are needed, listens to the crackling of the race radio and forgoes sleep and food to make the magic happen.

Where are you? Speak up and be heard!
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Last edited by Bob Dopolina; 09-03-10 at 11:07 AM.
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Old 09-03-10, 01:55 PM
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I was in a similar boat many years ago. I realized that several guys on the team had potential and I did not, so I sucked it up and played team manager for a while. Drove the van, gave massages, pumped tires etc .... It was fun in a different way .... not so much pressure ..... watching our guys try to hang with the big boys .... I didn't have much trouble adjusting to the different role. Did the same for our women's team at a stage race once too.
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Old 09-03-10, 02:10 PM
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i am skipping racing this year at green mountain stage race to hang out and volunteer sunday. should be ok.

i will also be having a beer as soon as work gets out and will be enjoying some nice vermont local beers.

i will bring my bike and do this on monday when the race moves on
https://www.achillclimb.org/images/topo1.jpg

generally the water bottle giver, tire pumper, number pinner onner is my wife.

homebrew do you homebrew?

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Old 09-03-10, 02:32 PM
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I nominate my wife, she does all that stuff and drives support for some races.

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Old 09-03-10, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by pjcampbell
homebrew do you homebrew?
I used to. Haven't done it in a while though ....... It's a fun hobby, and satisfying, especially when you make a really good batch. I only had a few duds.
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Old 09-06-10, 09:04 AM
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Well this thread pretty much died on the vine...

I was going to post a 'race report' but I think I'll spare us all and carry on with what I was doing elsewhere.
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Old 09-06-10, 10:13 AM
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Post the race report!

And thanks to all who provide support.
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Old 09-06-10, 05:22 PM
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post the report...

I've done support for various races (mojave death race, among others) and have sort of drifted from racing to being a promoter and occasional official, though I'd like to get back to more racing. Doing the support stuff is enough work that I find I can't do it and race well a lot of the time, particularly as events get bigger and more complicated.
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Old 09-07-10, 01:30 PM
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I got moved to Juniors at the last minute, I was driving "COMM2" which is the "out front" USAC official. It's the cop, the pace car, then us. We get some action if there is a break...

Luckily some crazy kid jumps right at the neutral stop/race start banner and takes off, 45 miles on his own. We are thinking wow what is this kid doing. He is hammering away. We kept giving him his time which at one point was 5 minutes! Somewhere around the 35 mile mark he is tiring a bit. We get notice that the pack is closing in.... but still 2 minutes away, then at mile 45 I see 3 guys in my rear view mirror which I had no warning for. In fact the pack is still no where near, this is what they meant apparently.

2 of them are the break away artists teammates. The road tilted up and our star break away artist gets dropped almost immediately. They keep looking for him but he was way back already. The finish ended up being the breakaway's teammate, another guy, another teammate, and after riding 65 miles alone, a 4th place finish for our break away man... 2 or 3 minutes ahead of the pack. nice!!!
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Old 09-07-10, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by pjcampbell
I got moved to Juniors at the last minute, I was driving "COMM2" which is the "out front" USAC official. It's the cop, the pace car, then us. We get some action if there is a break...

Luckily some crazy kid jumps right at the neutral stop/race start banner and takes off, 45 miles on his own. We are thinking wow what is this kid doing. He is hammering away. We kept giving him his time which at one point was 5 minutes! Somewhere around the 35 mile mark he is tiring a bit. We get notice that the pack is closing in.... but still 2 minutes away, then at mile 45 I see 3 guys in my rear view mirror which I had no warning for. In fact the pack is still no where near, this is what they meant apparently.

2 of them are the break away artists teammates. The road tilted up and our star break away artist gets dropped almost immediately. They keep looking for him but he was way back already. The finish ended up being the breakaway's teammate, another guy, another teammate, and after riding 65 miles alone, a 4th place finish for our break away man... 2 or 3 minutes ahead of the pack. nice!!!
Anders, the kid that won, is a super cool kid. Just wrote a story about him, actually. I went with him and his dad to Fitchburg a long time ago.
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Old 09-08-10, 05:47 AM
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all of those guys were awesome.. his teammate the yellow leader took off with a few K to go but your man Anders was able to catch and pass him a few minutes later.

I should have had my Flip cam setup for the app gap.
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Old 09-08-10, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by mattm
Post the race report!

And thanks to all who provide support.
It was a dark and stormy night...

Really, it was but it cleared up for race day.

Some of our riders made the 4 hour drive to the race on Friday and I picked up 2 more riders and our support guy and headed over on Saturday. We got there, checked into our hotel and went to the manager's meeting. The UCI guy was nice and helped straighten out some of the feeding issues (from the caravan) but couldn't help us keep the radios as the organizer had the final say.

I went back to the hotel, rounded up the troops and headed off to feed. We found a new pasta joint and strapped on a feedbag. Once the talent was stuffed I got a shopping list and went foraging for supplies. I then returned to our digs, helped check all the bikes and got the things tweaked that needed to be tweaked.

Wake up call: 5:45am.

First breakfast. Packed, pumped, lathered and lubed and time to eat again. Then it was time to roll to the start.

We started with 8 riders but quickly lost one of our quest riders to a crash. Another revelation from the meeting was that we couldn't pace a crashed rider back to the caravan with the team car. It sucked to be him. He was 25km into a 170km race. Luckily the broom wagon scooped him up and he spent 4 long and sweaty hours in a line of cars.

This crash was the first action for the team car as we hadn't even entered the point where we could start to feed yet (30km). It was as hot a blazes so keeping guys hydrated was important.

We heard one of our rider's numbers called and made our first foray to the back of the bunch for a feed (I learned a few new Chinese words). One of the guys who was tagged as being a water carrier for the race grabbed 4 bottles and headed back across the gap from the chief commissars car to the back of the bunch. Our first feed out of the way we drifted back into 8th spot (based on our team car number drawn the night before) and waited to hear one of the magic numbers called again.

About 40km in a strong move went. Riders from 2 of the Continental teams were present so, although early, this was a credible move.

The night before I told the guys to be patient for the first 70km and do nothing. For once they listened and they sat in, to a man.

We hit the turn around and the gap which had once been 3 minutes+ was now down to 2 minutes. The wind had shifted too and, although not strong, it was still a headwind and the remaining 4 riders in the break faced 70km into a headwind with big sun on their backs.

Then a move went. It was a chase of 5 riders trying to bridge across. One of our regular riders was present. There were riders from other strong teams so this was a good move by our guys. It was really tough not being able to communicate with them either over a radio or in person as a rider. I wanted them to send 2 guys to the front to help the move succeed.

But it was not to be. They came back after 15km or so and the original break was absorbed, too.

We were all together with 50km and 1 climb to go.

The feeding had been going well and it seemed like the guys were communicating in the bunch. They were coming back and picking up 4 or 5 bottles at a time and solid food to boot. We had talked about this the night before and it was good to see it being executed without my having to be there.

Then there was a series of attacks and a group of 12 formed off the front. It had all the major players and one of our guys as well. This looked good.

The gap opened up enough (1 minute) to let us drive across so I lit off and got in line to feed our guy in the break. We had 1 chance to get water to him before the feeding cut off at 30km to go. The final climb was also about to begin.

With no radio we had to shout out of the team car and hope he heard us. I don't know if he did but he had the presence of mind to turn around and see us. We got him a bottle and dropped back.

Under normal conditions we would have sat there and followed our lead rider to the finish. But in this race, points for qualification were being given on the top 3 riders from each team so we had 2 more guys to worry about. At this point we took the risk and dropped back to the main bunch to get a last bottle to our guys. It worked out and we fed our guys and then jumped back across to follow our leader to the finish. We couldn't feed but we could still do mechanical support.

There were a string of attacks and 3 riders went clear of the break with 3km to go. The rest sprinted across and we were 9th.

The bunch came in a few minutes later and there was a huge sprint with no carnage.

We placed 2 riders in the top 20 and finished 6th overall for team points.

No qualification for us.

On a positive note is was good race experience for our guys. The didn't have me on the road to keep things organized and they worked well together and for each other. They followed the game plan as we laid it down but, in the end, we were just out gunned by 2 Continental teams and the National team.

We showered, packed up, went for another feed and drove 4+ hours home.

I am very tired and wish I had raced as the stress is lower and I probably wouldn't be so wiped out.

If you're still here thanks for reading.
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Last edited by Bob Dopolina; 09-08-10 at 09:44 AM.
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Old 09-08-10, 09:49 AM
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Nice report. How was the satisfaction (apart from missing the qualification)?
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Old 09-08-10, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Apus^2
Nice report. How was the satisfaction (apart from missing the qualification)?
Good to excellent.

There were a few glitches off the bike related to protocol and procedure but I am evaluating riders for 2011 right now so it will come into play later.

It also gave me a chance to look at another guy, who is not currently on our team. for 2011 and how he interacted with the other guys. This was positive.
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