Monday, December 21, 2009

"So you think it's cold?!" Part 1.

It's winter and many riders find it difficult to bundle up correctly for training, mountain bike, and cyclo-cross racing. This can make it hard to keep motivated and focused. To remain inspired in cold-wet weather for me is the absolute worst! If you can do this, you'd make a great European rider! (Photo: Cor Vos)

Cold and wet was the norm in Europe during winter and spring; cold to the bone. The riders who excel in the spring classics in particular have an indescribable constitution. This category of riders are a category in and amongst themselves...they do not register cold and pain like other riders do.

Australian, Phil Anderson, my boyfriend for six years, is the perfect example of one of these super-human riders. He was considered a "classics rider" and went very well in foul weather. For instance, if a two hundred man field began at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and freezing rain continued throughout the day, there might be only twenty-seven finishers. These would be great conditions for Phil!

One morning when we both on the TVM Team, it was pandemonium at the start of the Tour of Flanders. The press was swarming around our team cars. The mechanics and soigneurs had all we could do to prepare the bikes and the boys and deal with the paparazzi too. It was sub-thirty degrees Fahrenheit and sleeting. On days like this we layered the boys legs with three types of liniment; the top coat, a silicone-like product was derived from the feathers of a duck to repel the water, sleet, and snow.

As one of my riders put his start food and bottles into his pockets and moved aside, a journalist shoved his way into the coveted circle. Phil went ballistic. The journo barraged Phil all at once. Phil agreed to answer one question. "Phil, it's strontweer ( Dutch:'shitty/foul weather'), good day for you." To which Phil replied, "Why do you say this day is any better for me?" And the journo said, " The worse the weather, the better you go. Two-hundred riders are starting, less than thirty will finish in conditions like this...good day for you!"

Phil almost clocked the guy. " I don't go any better, everybody else just rides worse." "Shell, get this guy outta here!"


avalon said...

thank you Shelley for so generously sharing your knowlege. You have an awesome gift!
Love you dearly!!!!! Avalon

bumbleintuit said...

Hello Shelley,

I am interested in becoming a soigneur for a professional cycling team and I was wondering if you would be willing to answer a few questions about how best to go about being hired. I read the article in USA today.

Currently, I am working on my license as a massage therapist. Also, I follow cycling as a sport and know a bit about it. I'm excited to know more and am full of questions! My dream would be to travel around Europe and America being as much use to a cycling team as I can.

My questions:

1. Once I am licensed, how should I go about applying for a position with a cycling team? Do I need more qualifications?

2. Is team soigneur a salaried position? Are you covered by the team's medical benefits?

3. What are your responsibilities to the team during the off-season?

Please let me know anything you think is important to be aware of before going into the profession.

Thank you!
Nevin M.

Shelley Verses said...

Hello Nevin,
Thank you for your questions on becoming a soigneur. In brief, any hours necessary as requirements for your massage credential should be done on as many athletes as possible. Learn about the sports they participate in and try to massage them after training or their event. This will help increase their recovery rate, and train you in the care of athletes. Any workshops in Sportsmassage would be beneficial.

The only salaried positions on the European Pro-Tour are those of full-time team members. Per-day soigneurs do not receive salaries. Regarding medical benefits, each team's policy is different.

Responsibilities of a soigneur during the off-season vary from team to team. Preparing team vehicles, organizing for pre-season training camps, meetings with team doctors, mechanics, directeur sportifs and doing inventory of service course equipment are some of the duties.

After you complete your massage training, my advice to you is to volunteer on a local cycling team. You will probably get picked up by a domestic trade team. Pro-Tour comes later, with lots of experience. Good luck, Nevin!