Book Excerpt: Michael Barry's Inside the Postal Bus
Excerpt from Michael Barry?s great new book Inside the Postal Bus.
They are ordered and bought by Freddy Viaene, our soigneur, from a local shop in his hometown?always the same quality and always the same taste. They?re buttery and sweet, fresh, with a homemade taste, but also heavy and not ideal for a fast pace or a lactose-intolerant rider. We eat the cakes because they are high in calories, full of energy that we need to get us to the finish line without becoming hypoglycemic.
Cereals are packed away in the shelves of the bus for the trips home from the races. Soy milk, for the lactose-intolerant, is in the fridge beside the sweetened condensed milk for the coffee.
Tucked away in one of the storage bins on the bus is an ultrasound machine. In the early season it seems the ultrasound machine is always out and riders are lining up to use it in the soigneurs? room. While one rider is on the massage table, another will be sitting on a bed using the ultrasound on his knee while another rider roots through the food bin looking for a cookie or piece of fruit. MTV, CNN, or Eurosport is usually on the television as background noise.
In the bus there are also bags of ice and ice packs, which we tuck under our tights or place over our knees, necks, or any other part that aches from the race. It?s not uncommon for us to be spread out across the body of the bus, nursing our aches in hopes of better muscles the next day.
The kitchen is beside the shower that is beside the bathroom. On the way to the races all of the doors separating the different compartments need to be closed, as the stench that comes out of the toilet is unbearable for the passengers. Most musicians have a ?no number two rule? on their tour buses for good reason, whereas we pretty much have a bus so we can take care of number two before a race. On a bumpy, sinuous mountain road, the stench is even worse as the corners seem to stir odors up from the depths of the bus. The soigneurs do their best to keep the bathroom and shower clean, but there are odors they can?t remedy, even with all the air fresheners and antibacterial sprays available.
Cyclists are generally not clean and neat right before or after a race. The bus is a sty after everybody has scurried and pushed about in an effort to get ready. After the race all anybody cares about is consuming calories and putting their feet up. When we arrive at the hotel for the evening, from the front to the back of the bus there are wrappers and open empty cans and bottles rolling around on the carpeted floor. It was really nice to have Berry Floor as a sponsor?they would replace the carpeting when it became nasty with stains.
During the few years I spent racing with the U.S.?based Saturn cycling team, we had no bus or camper, so we often had