Book Excerpt: Michael Barry's Inside the Postal Bus
Excerpt from Michael Barry?s great new book Inside the Postal Bus.
The first time I saw the bus, I was both impressed and nervous. It was my first trip with the team in
?How do you like the 1980s strip club?? Christian asked.
The bus has a gray, blue, and red interior and exterior, is covered with logos on the outside, and lined with gray leather chairs with red trim on the inside. In the front there are 12 seats, two pair facing the front window and two sets of four facing each other with a table in between. The tables are rarely used for much other than a leg rest. Two long benches stretch toward the back of the bus, about 4 meters in length. After a race has ended and we?re driving to a hotel, every seat is filled by eight riders and a director.
Lance always takes the corner spot on the back bench, a spot where you can see everything going on in the rest of the bus and also a comfortable spot where you can put your legs up. When he?s not there, George takes that seat, and when George isn?t there nobody else really seems to care who has it.
For some reason the Spanish guys always seem to sit in the front of the bus, sprawled over the chairs, whereas all the other guys like the couches in the back. In the 2003 Vuelta, it became the joke that the front half of the bus was for the guys doing well, Triki and Roberto, and the rest of us were at the back of the bus where we had been all day on the climbs. None of the seats on the bus are used in a normal fashion. Most of the time legs are up in the air, guys are stretched out, and bags of clothing are scattered. Some packs become pillows while others become footrests.
Everybody gets ready at the same time and the bus becomes a zoo. Backpacks of race clothing are opened, with gear spilling out?numbers, jerseys, shorts?everything that we need for racing. Riders punch the buttons of the coffee machine while others push to get to the race food. Sugar, milk, creamer, condensed milk, and stir sticks all sit beside the automatic machine. Luc and the soigneurs take care of the coffee machine, while the rest of us abuse it and demand that it supply our needs with no complaints, and when it doesn?t, we call on them to remedy the situation. Cakes of different kinds?apple tarts, rice tarts, jam tarts, and small rolls or paninis filled with Nutella or jam?sit in paper bags next to the coffee machine. We can choose between a huge variety of Clif Bars, cakes, and Clif Energy Gels?all sugary and all fuel for the day?s efforts. Sometimes they?re hard to get down and other times they taste like the candy bars my allowance was saved for as a kid.
The cakes come from