BuffetsPosted: August 6, 2014
You work with the PR team of a professional cycling team to schedule a time to talk to a rider. You email back and forth frantically during the race, at night and stop by the team bus in the morning to stand around wearing a pleading puppy face.
You get a date so you start working on your questions. You research the rider you got the time to sit down with, and you know the person inside and out. You start out with general ones, softballs to set the ground work, to start the information flowing. Then you start working your way to the tougher questions.
Then the day arrives. You attend the race and jot notes about your rider’s race that day. You get back to your room early to clean up, and you arrive ten minutes before the scheduled time. Not too early to look too eager, but never late. You find a place to talk, secure yet open so everyone feels good and information will flow. The rider comes down and sits down to talk. You exchange pleasantries, and you start with the easy questions to get things rolling.
But the rider throws back a curve, and your prepared questions gently fall to the floor as you grin and jump on the answer.
Buffets. What is your favorite thing about racing in the US? Buffets.
I had the opportunity to interview Richie Porte of Team Sky at the USA Pro Challenge. Every statement above is true. I did not want to sound like an amateur or an idiot and by the end of the interview, I did not care. When you ask a professional bicycle racer what his favorite thing about racing in a county, and he says the buffet’s it throws you for a laughing out loud loop from which you never recover.
After talking to professional cyclists for years, this was the last answer I expected, but it was the first thing out of the mouth of Richie Porte during the USA Pro Challenge. However, after listening to him compare the fare offered at the Tour de France or the rest of the European races I understood. Based on Richie’s comments, it was easy to maintain weight on the Tour de France because if you waited too long there was nothing to it. Even if you got to dinner early, it still was slim pickings.
Richie Porte, along with Chris Froome had been in the US for two weeks training and enjoying the country before the USA Pro Challenge even started. Once the race started, they raced. However, they thoroughly enjoyed the racing in the US, buffets included.
The next thing Richie said was the fans were fantastic. I’m sure after watching the three segments of the Tour de France through the UK, he might change his mind, but he said the US fans were fantastic. If you went off the back in France, the fans called you names, gave you grief and sometimes spit at you.
Here in the US, the fans cheered and clapped for everyone, even the last rider was encouraged to ride better. US fans are just happy to watch great athletes race.
Teams enjoy coming to the US for the USA Pro Challenge besides the food and the fans. The views along the race course are unmatched outside of Nepal. The crowds are not only enthusiastic, but they understand bicycle racing. The word peloton in Colorado does not get you a questioning express. Coloradans understand bicycle racing.
After spending an hour with Richie Porte, I had a great time, met a great person and obviously, a great cyclist. Richie still had a smile and a great sense of humor even after a hard day riding in the thin air.
This tough piece investigating a Team Sky rider reads like a chamber of commerce piece encouraging people to come to Colorado. Obviously, the riders enjoy racing in the US.