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Jeremy Fliss: Joe Martin Wrap-Up

May 18, 2010

Jeremy Fliss is a St. Paul-based soigneur for the WEBCOR Professional Cycling team. He has provided us with yet another blog about another stage race. This time, it was Joe Martin in Arkansas.

We left Silver City almost immediately following the race finale and made our way to Fayetteville, AR by way of Albuquerque to send our director home and to see Canadian rider Joelle Numainville off to Pan Am Championships. Aside from being stopped by Oklahoma highway patrol for a burnt out headlight, the 750 miles went by without a hitch.

However, the following day I went out for a spin with the riders who intended on riding for ~1.5 hours, and I wanted to add another 30 minutes or so. Which turned into another 3.5 hours only after a kind landscaper returned me to our host house. I definitely need to get the internal compass checked. So after a good work out, all of the riders got quick massages, or “rubs,” to flush out their legs after a day and a half in the car and a short bike ride. Wednesday, was another relatively laid back day with another easy ride. I did NOT stray from the others and returned home safely. Dave, the mechanic, and I spent the evening preparing bikes and supplies for Joe Martin’s Thursday individual time trial at Devil’s Den State Park.

Arriving two hours before our first rider sets forth, essentially a drag race up hill for 9-10 minutes, we set up stationary trainers, chairs and supplies in a campground. As the riders warm up, Dave makes sure the bikes are running smoothly, as I make sure the riders get what they need as they ride the trainers. When all was said and done, Webcor’s Katheryn Mattis stood on top of the results by a fraction of a second over Vera Bradley Foundation’s Alison Powers.

Day two was a point-to-point race finishing with an uphill sprint in downtown Fayetteville. Conditions were reminiscent of day two at [Tour of the] Gila, and the riders faced a fierce headwind for the last 30 or so miles while ascending. The wind held the field together as they came through the feed zone, all the way to the finish, where a bunch sprint was won by the Colavita/Baci team. The overall standings shuffled Katheryn Mattis and Alison Powers into reverse order by a handful of seconds.

On the third day, the weather looked as though it could open up and rain at any time, but once again held off. The day’s course was a lollipop, or out on one road to a smaller circuit, do two laps and then head back on the same road taken out of town. Again, the field was not motivated and the pace stayed civil, allowing another bunch sprint. There was no major shake up of the standings, everyone stayed upright and a major showdown was scheduled for the crit finale the following day.

After all of the riders visited the massage table, we headed out with our awesome host mom and some other riders to celebrate my birthday at the Flying Burrito, a Fayetteville institution. If you are ever in that area and feeling invincible, order the MOAB (mother of all burritos).

Sunday morning started with more promises of rain, wind and cold temperatures. Two out of three is not bad, and everyone stayed dry. After some modifications to the course over previous years to accommodate a simultaneous event, the riders struck out on 60 minutes around the 12 corner course. Even for professional and elite cyclists, it’s a lot of corners. Early crashes splintered the field and the selection was made from which the day’s winner would emerge. With 2 laps to go, the Vera Bradley team was on the attack.  When the riders emerged, charging for the finish line, Vera Bradley rider Alex Rhodes was pulling away from Katheryn Mattis, who was trying to put a gap between herself and Alison Powers. In the end, Rhodes won handily and Mattis didn’t gain enough time to overtake Powers for first place overall. I’d have to say that I haven’t seen a much greater display of determination and guts in a long time. Well done to everyone involved. You did your best and that is all we can ask.

OK…time to pack and drive. For me, that is home for a few weeks before the big race in Philly. The mechanic is headed out east, most riders flying home. Katheryn Mattis is off to the Tour de l’Aude, and Joelle will return from Pan Ams after winning a silver medal in the road race, just behind Shelly Evans Olds of Peanut Butter and Co. 2012.

After roughly 3000 miles of driving, I need to sleep now.


Jeremy Fliss: A Soigneur’s Perspective

May 6, 2010

Jeremy Fliss is a St. Paul-based massage therapist. In his free time (or maybe vice-versa), Fliss doubles as the soigneur for Webcor Builders, the Redwood City, California-based women’s professional cycling team. Since his view of the professional peloton is both intimate and unique, he’s been generous enough to provide the TRIA/Nature Valley Grand Prix blog with some insight that only he (and the professional peloton) can experience. Enjoy!

On the 25th of April, I boarded a plane for San Francisco as the first stage of the Tour of the Gila as the soignuer for Webcor Builders Women’s Professional Cycling Team. After a brief layover in Denver, I was collected at SFO by our director, Karen Brems.

The purpose of my stop in the Bay Area was to pick up the team car, or car that is driven in the race caravan. Our trusty 2003 Subaru holds six bikes on the roof rack, one director at the wheel, one fleet-footed mechanic ready to service our rider’s bikes at a moments notice, a cooler of water bottles, and spare wheels. So, after packing the car with supplies for the upcoming race, I hit the road to begin the trip to Silver City, NM. On that day, I made it to Redlands, CA where I stayed with longtime Webcor host and friend of cycling, Cid. After a home cooked meal, I was off across the desert in a reverse California migration to Tucson to pick up additional teammates that weren’t driving in from the new Albuquerque Roadrunner race. And, by 9:30, we rolled in to our host house in New Mexico.

My responsibilities as a soigneur are to ensure that the riders have what they need before, during, and after the races. This includes daily massage, water bottles for racing, food for both during and after racing. So, the day before racing began, after sneaking in a short ride with our mechanic extraordinaire Dave Drumm, it was time to fill bottles, make post-race sandwiches, clean the car, and make sure all the race food was set to go.

Race day usually look like this: wake up early, double and triple check that everything is prepared and done for the day, drive to the race start, make sure the riders have everything they need from food to liquids to warming oil for their legs on cold days. Then it is off for the feed zone, a designated location on the race route where I am allowed to hand off bottles to the riders when they come past. After feeding, it is a race to the finish so that towels, warm and dry clothes, recovery protein beverages, and food are available as soon as possible. Hopefully after an appearance on the podium by one or more of our riders, it’s back to housing for even more food, massage, and prep the next day.

The first day of racing consisted of a point to point road race where Webcor took the third step of the podium with Katheryn Mattis at the top of the cliff hugging road up to the ghost town of Mogollon. Back to the ranch, lather, rinse, repeat.

Day two was a bit more interesting with 70 degree temperatures, sustained winds in the 30s and what we would later find out were gusts up to 86 mph. After getting literally sand blasted and watching the field of riders get blown apart, it was time to pick up the pieces and prepare for the time trial the following day.

Time trials are individual races against the clock. Even though the wind had died down, it hadn’t abated. Dave, the mechanic, and I arrive at the start about two hours prior to the first rider’s start time to set up trainers for the riders to warm up on, chairs to sit down on, food and water to chow down on, and to make sure the special aerodynamic time trial bikes are running perfectly. Then, as their times come up, we get the riders to the start line and its in their hands. Webcor’s Erinne Willock tore the legs off of all but one other rider to finish in 2nd place.

Criteriums, or crits, are usually the only time that I get to see much racing, as they consist of a short 1-3km course that is raced for a set number of laps or amount of time. The Gila criterium was held in downtown Silver City and consisted of 25 brutally fast laps.

The 5th and final day was another point to point road race that finished at the mountain top village of Pinos Altos. Cold weather, a long and steep climb, and snow flurries made this a day to be survived. After all was said and done, Erinne Willock of Canada was 5th overall for the Tour of the Gila.

Due to the unusual early May weather, we beat a hasty retreat back to the homestead and began the process of getting nine people, nine suitcases, nine backpacks, 20 bikes, race food, coolers, bags of bottles, a massage table, and one million and one other odds and ends packed into the team car and Sprinter van for the immediate departure to Fayetteville, AR and the Joe Martin Stage race. Until next time…

Read more about Jeremy and the rest of the Webcor Builders team at