BKW friend and local firefighter, TK spent the first part of April following the Classics with Peter Easton's tour company Velo Classic Tours and was practically blown off his machine when a surprise guest rider showed up to accompany the group onto the stones of L'Enfer du Nord. Peter had arranged for retired PRO and CSC Director Sportif, Scott Sunderland, to show the group just how hard the cobbles are and to share a few tips on how to survive the Arenberg Forest.
TK was fortunate enough to monopolize an hour of Scott's time. As summer begins to hit its stride, it feels like the right time to step back and once again indulge in the anticipation that preceeds Roubaix. The following discussion took place on the battered roads that lead to Roubaix.
TK: Hey Scott, great to see you, I have been a fan since you were on Fatka!
Scott: Yea those were good times on that squad. (The Arenburg Forest is approaching).
Scott: Alright mate, here comes the toughest section of cobbles, so keep all your weight on the pedals, keep your arse off the saddle and don't white knuckle your handlebars.
Scott: See you at the end of the section!
(At the end of the section...)
TK: I made it!
TK: After that, any special preparations for Roubaix?
Scott: Not to much, we usually ride some sectors of the pave on Friday before PR and adjust our bikes per the weather and the conditions.
TK: Any special equipment this year?
Scott: Just the usual 24-25mm tubular tires, with 32 spoke wheel, depending on the rider.
Tk: I like the tube carrier on your bike!
Scott: Yea, I always have tons of spare CSC water bottles, and when I was on TVM, one of the mechanics took two water bottles and cut the top of the bottles off and put them together to carry tools, tubes, and food.
TK: Very PRO.
Scott: What's that mate?
Scott's cell phone rings while riding, it's one of the mechanics looking for Fabian's tubulars, which he cannot find, Scott tells him where they are located.
Scott: Sorry mate, chaos happening before Roubaix
TK: No problem, just trying to keep up with ya!
TK: You still have your Harley Davidsons?
Scott: I sold the one last year. A persistent Belgian who had no idea who I was kept coming to my house and offering more money for my bike. I finally sold it to him!
TK: You still have the other one?
Scott: Yes, it's up on the blocks right now. I am having a former Alessio-Bianchi mechanic do work on it.
TK: A bicycle mechanic working on a Harley?
Scott: Yes, he went to the Harley Davidson Mechanics school after Alessio, and now works on motorcycles, including mine. I am currently putting some performance modifications to it to rip through the roads of Belgium.
TK: Sounds fun!
Scott: Yea, how about you, what do you do for a living?
TK: I am a fireman.
Scott: That's cool, and you've come for the Queen of the classics?
TK: Yes, this is my favorite race of the year, I have been watching it since 1986. I was 8 years old when I first saw this race!
Scott: Wow, been in any bad fires?
Tk: Nothing lately, most of the time just resetting fire alarms!
As we were riding, Scott mentions to me that this is where he told Stuey to attack!
TK: And what did he say?
Scott: He wanted to wait and see who was hanging with him, Fabian said he had no legs. Stuey said he felt great, so he attacked.
TK: How about Riis?
Scott: He's a great Boss. When I first started with CSC, we were at PR. Riis wanted to drive the team car for the race and I had to talk on the radio. I asked him if he knew the roads in Belgium, and he said that we would follow the other team cars. I then told him to switch spots as I knew all the back roads in Belgium and the northern part of France. Riis agreed!
TK: Great story! Any other great stories!
At this point, we were passing an old German concrete bunker in the middle of a farm field.
Scott: When I first started riding for a pro team, we had this East German rider who talked like the singer from Rammstein. On this exact spot he saw this bunker and told the team that the bunker used to be his Grandpappy's summer home in France! Scott said that the team almost crashed as some were laughing and others who were in awe!
TK: Rammstein? You like heavy metal?
Scott: I like everything, except rap and country.
TK: What no country?
Scott: I know I have an Aussie accent, but country music has that twang sound!
TK: What do you think about the Astana team?
Scott: I think it's a shame what's going on.
TK: Any stories from the Discovery team? Did you guys work together as was portrayed in the media?
Scott: We work with any team if it's in our interest.
TK: I see, any shady moves out there?
Scott: Yea, especially with the radios. A certain team was on our frequency and giving our riders orders, the team thought the orders were coming from us. We found out and confronted them, they said it was an accident! CSC knew it wasn't.
TK: I think I know who the team was!
Scott: Just smiles! Alright mate, gotta head back to the hotel to get ready for the press presentation. So, good luck, and by the way, Quick Step is coming with all the paparazzi, so don't crash into them, or you will never make it out of Belgium!
TK: Thanks, Scott! And good luck at PR! (Quick Step flies by me on the cobbles!)
Photo Courtesy: Mike McGarry / PhotoSport International, TK