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This past week I have taken some time away from Quay Physio, unfortunately not for a holiday but to travel to the French Alps to work with Rapha Cycling as a Soigneur on one of their bespoke tours.
Initially, you would think WOW what an experience! An all expense paid trip to the French Alps in the height of summer to follow a group of cyclists across some of Europe’s finest scenery, however the reality is very different. There were eight riders enjoying the trip of a lifetime and in order to make that happen, I was joined by 3 other members of staff, 2 riders who would lead each day out on the bikes and a mechanic who worked around the clock to make sure each rider’s bike was in perfect condition ready for the next day’s riding.
Each day began with a 6.30am alarm so that I could head down to the hotel kitchen and begin to prepare the riders’ food for their bikes. The most common request was pain au lait filled with jam or peanut butter, perfect fuel for a long day in the saddle. Following this, it would be straight back to the hotel room to fill up 40+ bottles of water and electrolytes and put them onto each of the bikes ready for roll out. Who would of thought there would be a chance of a repetitive strain injury from filling water bottles!
Once these jobs were done it was finally chance for a coffee and some breakfast. However, there was no chance to sit and enjoy it, more jobs needed to be done in preparation for the journey. Each rider has very specific requests of food and snacks they would like to have before they begin the ride, so it was my role to make sure they each had what they required.
The fun then began, each of the riders rolled out of the hotel around 8.30am ready for an average of 100km and plenty of tough climbs. My role at this point changed, as it’s time to hop into a support van and get to a local supermarket as soon as possible. Lunch is required! Once all the fresh produce was brought and put into the van it was time to put my foot down to get to the chosen destination for lunch ahead of the riders. Once there I then had enough time to set up and make an appetising lunch before their arrival. Luckily, the lunch destinations were always in incredible places so once I was ready it was time to chill and take in the view…
After lunch, the afternoon’s jobs were a case of supporting the riders as they took on their tricky climbs and stop at certain spots for water re-fills and snacks. The mixed weather throughout the week meant that I was also able to add Agony Aunt to my job role! There was one occasion where one of the riders was really struggling up the steep ascent of the Col du Galibier in the hammering rain and he needed a refill of his water bottle. Rather than stopping and trying to get going again I told him to pedal on, as I would chase him up the hill with a fresh bottle. He was hugely grateful and found it highly amusing just how shattered I was!
When we hit the peak I was hugely surprised to see a local who was clearly in his 80′s at the top of the climb looking rather worse for wear. In my very broken French I asked if he wanted to hop in the van to get some warm clothes on, little did I know that he would jump at the opportunity and then begin tucking into the riders’ food thinking it was there for him!
Following the days riding, I would get into the fancy top of the range BMW to race back to the hotel so that I could prepare for a full evening of sports massage for each rider, making sure each of their aches and pains were settled ready for a big day on the bike the following day. The fun didn’t stop there, once the riders were all treated it was time to muck in with the other staff to sort all the riders’ laundry and make a shopping list ready for the next day. Finally, we would then sit down for dinner and a glass of wine!
That is just a single day in the life of a Soigneur. Yes it’s hectic, yes your job roles change constantly and yes that is what it’s really like working in sport. But I loved it and I hope I can bring back these experiences to help you at Quay Physio too!
To book in with myself for sports massage at Quay Physio, call 01548 852355 or firstname.lastname@example.org.