Monday, October 3, 2011
Moving around the European scene these past 15 years has meant that I have had to cut corners with my living expenses since there have been very few earning opportunities . Certainly in the winter months in past years I have worked as a Ski Instructor which as you may know is “ Basic Wage “ with the Ski Schools finding every which way to avoid paying you a living wage for any longer than it suits their purposes . Usually as a client you will pay the ski school an hourly fee or join a ski group class which in many cases for the beginner are led by a “ Student ” , recently having passed the “ two week training course” . Get lucky , you might get someone with an idea of what the beginner is suffering and is able to accommodate their needs and fears . You still pay the same hourly fee regardless of the competence of the instructor provided . No one likes complaining but when they do they perhaps get a change of class or instructor but rarely a refund ! With riding the “ Pro Tour Cycle Races ” I would put all my possessions in storage in March or April of each year and head off with a two kilo sack sitting on the tri bars of the bike ! Yes , that’s right a sack I was given at the 2001 Vuelta , and still use sits in my room fully loaded for the next outing . In 1998 when I first did the Tour de France I was supposed to be travelling with a camper Van but the owner broke down in Pau and expected me to pedal back to the van and give up the TDF because he did some faulty work on the wheel bearings before leaving the UK ! Apparently just replacing the outside bearings was good enough for him , but it was not good enough for the full trip . Suffice to say I continued riding the TDF by buying a tooth brush and soap and other items on a daily basis . Caught up with this thief at has home in Sheffield , UK , with the Police in order to recover my possessions that he had claimed to have left in France . Had to give him money for the petrol used whilst not with the heap he called a camper but still did not get all my possessions , could not prove the missing items were ever in the camper . Since the season of 1999 I have relied on what the bike will carry in the bag on the hadle bars and if I got the odd lift from “ Ville Arrivee “ to “ Ville Depart ” it was by hitch hiking . So many of the Pro Tour Racers have seen me by the side of the road as they have been transported to their Hotel after the race has finished over the years that they must wonder how I survive when the weather turns foul . On the Giro d’Italia one year I was heading towards Rimini about 1900hrs and a team car passed heading south to their hotel . Well you can imagine the shouted conversation as they waited for the lights to change . Two hours later I found the YHA closed so eventually found another place for the night . Certainly there have been places where I have pitched up at a hotel that was accommodating a team or two , which has offered me cheaper prices for the accommodation than the price the teams were paying but even then I have had to eat elsewhere because the dining prices were beyond my budget . In the mountains there are many Hotels which have “ staff accom. ” for which I have negotiated a reduction , walk in a 4star hotel and find the staff rooms are one star , but I am not buying “ ambiance ” , just a bed for the night ! Whilst on the road until 2009 I would have only storage from March/ April until October each year and this suited me fine since getting back to any room / flat for a few days was just not worthwhile and filling in between the Giro Trentino and Giro d’Italia usually was easy enough and in the past there were several options available between the Tour de France and the Vuelta Espana . Madrid in” 2005 had the Vuelta finish and the World Road races follow on as an example . 2004 was a particularly busy year since I was at the Tour de France then in Athens for the Olympic Games and got talked into making a visit to the Vuelta before returning to the Paralympic Games . After the Tour de France of 2009 I suffered Pneumonia which caused the Embolisms to be discovered and so I have had to revise my accommodation situation and keep a room all year . The 2010 tours started with me using a car but I abandoned that car in Belgium at the start of the Tour de France from Rotterdam returning to collect it after Paris . Seemed like it was the best decision since there were so many problems with using the car this year . So many Etappes I had to drive the car down that day’s course and ride back to the Ville Depart , ride most of the course and then ride back to where the car was parked . In 2009 I had the car with drivers but in the last week one of the drivers left the car in Martigny and I discovered this when I finished that day’s Etappe in Bourg St Maurice , that meant another 180km via Albertville and Chamonix to arrive at 2200hrs and then drive it towards Grand Bornand so as to ride the next day’s Etappe . Luckily I still made the connection with Nico Sarkozy that night ! Next day was the Time trial in Annecy so there was a slight chance to recover with only riding about a metric ton that day .