Thursday, May 03, 2012
A Quick Lesson
One time, after nobody had said anything for awhile, Michele Pollentier flicked four fingers outward over the top of the steering wheel and asked me why Americans don’t know how to ride their bikes through a race caravan.
I strung together some sort of response that felt diplomatic enough, maybe even accurate. About how a lot of the races over here are criteriums, so we have plenty of pits and free laps but not many caravans. How, especially back then, somewhere in the early-mid-2000s, only big professional races here had caravans at all. Those that weren’t criteriums, anyway. Pro-am races like the one we were following? Barely ever. Pretty simply, I supposed, it came down to lack of practice.
He nodded, glanced at the sideview, and adjusted the car a bit to shelter a Cat. 1 straining to return to the peloton up the left side. We were doing about 35 down some chipseal Pennsylvania road, headed to the foot of the next climb. The rider faltered somewhere around the B-pillar and sank backwards. I’m not sure if he came back or not; there was a lot of that sort of traffic.
Only after that – and after being put on the spot to explain my homeland’s shortcomings by a man who had won the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of Flanders, and yes, who was caught trying to cheat his dope test after winning on l’Alpe d’Huez – did I ask what gave him the impression that we, as a nation, didn’t know what we were doing in a race caravan.
“Look at the back,” he said, extending a stubby forefinger towards the bumper of the car in front of us. “Spotless!”
“OK…,” I allowed myself, thinking (too simply) that this race, the Univest Grand Prix, is a big one for a lot of these teams. Probably their biggest of the year. Regional U.S. amateur teams don’t get a TV helicopter and a crack at guys in the Rabobank program very often. Of course they washed their car. Probably twice.
“In Belgium – tock, tock, tock.” With each guttural tock, Pollentier was sighting down the edge of his right hand, which was cutting a series of vertical slashes across the width of the telltale bumper. “There would be black marks across. Rubber, from the bike tires.”
“These guys? They sit a meter off the back of the car. Too far. Then they try to come around as soon as they can. They don’t use the cars enough.”
Somehow, it came off as an observation, a friendly pointer that maybe I could pass on if I had an opportunity, not as a condemnation or even much of a criticism, really. There was no hint of the ex-pro, when-I-was-racing chest thumping or old-world cycling’s well-where-I’m-from contempt. Maybe it’s that manner, or his forthrightness about his past drug use and its effects, that explains why Pollentier is owner of a Firestone tire store in Nieuwpoort and the guiding hand of a development team rather than a yelling, car-door-slapping pro DS or a quotable curmudgeon like many of his racing contemporaries. There’s plenty to condemn in Pollentier’s past, for those who like to condemn. But sitting in the car then (and sitting here now) I wished there were more ex-pros like him.
I wonder if transportables Perth are still doing this caravan race too. I wish I had experience that because nowadays we cannot do that because of the rules that we have to follow.
Next time you try this again with someone I suggest that you inquire for site accomodation hire Perth. I agree with you that there should be more ex pros like him because of his great works.
You guys should check out Watsons caravans race. Caravans are not common here in my city as well but 8 out of 10 people own one but they don’t frequently use it.
A rather peculiar musing about travel and caravan experiences. For my part, time just seems to fly by whenever I travel with my caravan crew. We go long rides into the countryside.
Historically, bike caravan races are basically games for kids. They usually have their dogs on the caravans as their passengers.
Well, how's that for an idea? Maybe I should start a caravan race here in our area because it seems that 50% of the population here owns one.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but my own understanding of caravan is traveling miles and miles away. And it's usually done by ethnic groups particularly on the middle east where most of the people are nomads. I mean, their main purpose of acquiring food and job is by endless traveling. I just don't quite understand what do you mean by caravan racing, are you referring to the wagons?Post a Comment