Home at last! Well, actually I've been home for five days now after a true road trip with the Amgen Tour of California.
Our ten days on the route are something of a blur. Eight cities, eight hotels, and hundreds of faces and names, it’s no surprise. When I began my first-time adventure with the Advance Team/Amgen Tour of California I had no idea what to expect. Eight days and more than 1,000 driving miles later, I am a seasoned expert.
Advance Team Amgen – Erin Brady and me, all two of us – were responsible for facilitating 17 racing teams of support staff: mechanics and soigneurs. Soigneurs, who are assistants responsible for various things like feeding, clothing, and escorting the riders and in French translates to "welfare man." Yes, these hardworking souls are responsible for the well-being of their riders. And they have earned all my respect...a combination Sherpa and massage therapist (in many cases), they literally carry the load.] It’s quite the entourage. At the start of each day’s race they arrive at that evening’s hotel wanting keys to their team rooms, and sheets and towels to tend to the needs of their riders when they come in from the race. There doesn’t seem to be any formula to predict how the day will go. Various levels of commotion is the best possible description. Each team has eight riders, plus mechanics, Soigneurs and managers…and possibly VIPs who can be added at any moment. The Soigneurs or possibly some other support person, is responsible for getting all the room keys and putting together a team rooming list. And this changes daily.
What I learned is this: Keep smiling. Repeat the mantra “We’re working on it.” And when all else fails, shrug your shoulders and throw up your hands. And when the team staff glare at you and look marginally frustrated, don’t take it personally. They’re just doing their jobs looking out for the team. We made some wonderful new friends from all corners of the country and hope to see them again, under similar circumstances. As crazy as it was, we had a great time and rose to every challenge.
For all the team staff: Jeff, Jim, Laura, Nicky, Brenda, Randy..okay, I admit I can't remember all the names, but thank you so much to everyone for your patience and understanding getting us through each day. Thank you to all the hotel staff for their help in keeping us on track. And to Amgen...hope to see you all again!