Michael Barry and Me !
We all go through life changing moments and last weekend I had mine. I had the chance to chit chat with professional cyclist . To have a guy standing in front me who's ridden on the sacred cobbles of Roubaix and Flanders, to the mountains of Italy and France made me feel like an "awestruck" kid once again. I mean wow? An actual professional cyclist giving me the "time of day ?" That's unheard in this day of age of, sponsor committments, and hectic schedules. It took me back to the 80's at the Queen's park Grand Prix race, when I had gotten close to Stephen Roche and Sean Kelly, but they never stuck around for that skinny Indian teenager who asked them for a picture or a quick autograph of his "Winning" Magazine. It is one weekend I will never forget. But wait ??? What am I doing idolizing professionals at age 40 ? Yes, I must admit to it. We cyclists at any age, are fanatical for our stars of the road. You can see this quite evident watching any L'Alpe D'Huez or any mountain stage of any Grand Tour.
I have to say, Michael Barry is pure class and is the professional. He is a Toronto boy, "living the dream." He spends his greater part of the year living and training in Spain. He has ridden on quite a few teams (Saturn, US Postal, T-Mobile, and most recently Team Sky) and brings a wealth of experience to the sport. He is also an accomplished author as well. In 2005 he wrote the book: Inside the Postal Bus, about his experiences at US Postal and the 2004 season whilst riding in support of Lance Armstrong. He and his wife also wrote a training book. He also writes diary entries during his cycling season on his website. His third book, Le Metier, detailing the life of a cycling domestique, was published in 2010 by Rouleur will hopefully be my reading material when i go on vacation in two more weeks. I am currently reading "Inside the US Postal Bus" and his writing really put you the reader into the world of a professional cyclist.
Being a professional means a highly disciplined lifestyle of diet and training. Standing next to him, I could not believe his BMI. Wow ? If he is that thin with his power to weight ratio, I can't imagine how skinny his teammate Bradley Wiggins must be ?? Anyways, it
gives me hope of the dieting I need to get done over this off season.
He is a "domestique" or a "worker bee" for the star of a team. He works for the benefit of his team and leader. He is the one who shields them from the wind, paces them up mountains, goes back to get water and anything else the star may need. The odd time they are allowed to win as we watched Johan Vansummeren in this year's . But mostly it is a thank-less, tireless, selfless role which often goes unrecognized yet they have no problem sacrificing day in and day out for others. I remember CBS's coverage of the Tour de france when they did a segment on Theo de Rooij and his role as a "domestique." It summed it up quite well.
In this day and age of professional cycling, contracts are few and far between. Michael is coming up on his last year of a two year contract with Team Sky. He is on the latter stages of a career. I certainly hope he continues for a few more years and I certainly hope he can squeeze a win or two in during this time. It has been a joy following his career and this most recent season through the Giro, the Tour and of course the cobblestoned classics.
I thank you Michael for your professionalism and kindness last weekend. I wish you all the best and hope our paths do cross again.