It’s not an easy job. In addition to caring for all the riders in every imaginable and unimaginable respect, and I mean really caring, like really giving a shit, like doing everything possible to ensure that each one of them, each with their own unique and personal needs (mental, physical, emotional, physiological, etc.) and idiosyncrasies are happy and able to perform at their absolute best, you have to do all the shit work, the logistics and production that come before and after the race. Preparing the Service Course. Setting up racks and bins and various storage containers into an efficient system. Retrofitting and customizing all the various the vehicles. Airport pick-ups and drop-offs. Ordering and inventorying nutrition, supplies, bandages and myriad medical materials. Laundry on location, whatever that entails, for eight professional athletes. Making two dozen Nutella and peanut butter sandwiches on the counter beside a sink in a Best Western bathroom at 1:30 in the morning, while, mostly likely, polishing off a bottle of mid-shelf Whisky and listening to obscure (B-side-type) 80’s music. Bleaching 200 water bottles in a stranger’s bath tub in a host house in a suburb of Atlanta in the morning when it’s still dark and everyone on the team except for you is still sleeping. Rinsing out those same water bottles before filling them up with water and half of them with supplements and hydration powders too. Labeling them. Putting them all into 3 different coolers. Walking the coolers down stairs and around corners and through narrow hallways outside to the parking lot, hoping the whole time you have the keys somewhere on your person to the DS Mini Cooper and the van headed to the feed zone.
And when the race finally starts, you drive to the next location where you check-in into 10 different hotel rooms, and set them up, each one with it’s own set of gear and purpose.
After the race you massage, which is in some ways is your clearest and most obvious and most necessary role on the team. You are here to keep the riders healthy and optimized. You massage eight riders each for a half-hour, often without a break, which takes as long as it takes. You apply what you know about massage, chiro, kinesiology, rakki, various injury management techniques, and whatever else you have to the task.
And Speed Week is different and by different I mean worse because the races are often at night, sometimes late at night, as in not finished until 10:00 or 11:00. So the routine that keeps you working from 6:30-1:30AM everyday for six days at a time is shifted back some eight or so hours, and so now you are basically working an overly long swing shift.
Maybe that’s why Fojo, who was still Team Exergy’s soigneur, at least everyone (still sleeping and dreaming about podium girls and if you’re Matt, little pugs named Lucy) thought he was, woke-up on the fourth day of Speed Week at six in the morning, the morning after Beaufort, the morning after giving Carlos Alzate, who had just finished second, a massage at 1:30 in the morning, packed up all his things, stuffed them into a duffel bag, de-friended the entire team on Facebook, took himself and his things to the Greyhound Station across the street and bought himself a one-way ticket to Atlanta.