Luke Evans is a cycling journalist, author and former editor of Cycle Sport magazine. In his spare time, he pilots top cycling photographer Graham Watson at the races. Currently, he’s taking Graham around the Giro d’Italia.
Stage 6, Brixen-Mayrofen Im Zillertal, 248km
Problems, always problems with the motorbike. The rear brake pump is kaput and has been dripping brake fluid all over the place.
In normal riding you don’t use much back brake but on the big bike with GW you need everything you’ve got to slow down for the endless bends on long descents.
The back brake helps to keep the bike flat, not pitching forward on its front forks with the full weight of Graham behind me.
Solutions and offers of help from the other moto drivers has really knocked me out and after many animated exchanges I hope to follow Gianni to a garage in Milan after Saturday’s stage to the city.
I also dropped the bike on its side a few days ago, bending the footplates and putting another scratch in the fairing. Grrr.
Experienced moto drivers are a resourceful lot. They have seen every problem and will beg, borrow, and almost steal, a part or favour to keep their bikes in the race.
And the bike itself carries a few carefully selected essentials. Sitting with L’Equipe’s moto driver Marc at stage one in Venice, he noticed a hole in the upper of his shoe.
He returned from the bike with a little plastic box containing four needles in a row, each one attached to a tiny bobbin of thread. By the end of the TTT he had repaired his shoe and was back on the road.
L’Equipe, the French sports daily, are not Giro regulars and are only here to report on Armstrong. You have to smile at their flip-flop attitude to the American; on the one hand trying to nail him for doping; and on the other following his every move in the build-up to the Tour, which they know will bring big bucks in his wake.
It’s been fun riding alongside the Texan in the peloton, getting shots of him having a laugh with Mark Cavendish, or talking to Bradley Wiggins (they can’t both be Style Council fans surely?). He looks like he is enjoying himself and complimented Graham on his new crash helmet the other day.
We have been given them for the Giro, as have the other drivers.
They have stripes and not everyone likes them. Neil Stephens, DS at Caisse d’Epargne, drove alongside and said we had already won the Giro ugly helmet contest.
My black and white one makes me look like a mint humbug while Graham looks like a milk jug in his blue and white lid.
PREVIOUS BLOGS FROM THE GIRO
Part one: Kicking off the 2009 Giro