PARRABUDDY.BLOGSPOT was started to help find a way for “Adaptive / Physically Challenged / Paralympic Cyclists ” to enjoy riding their bikes on the Daily Route of the famous Pro Tour Race Routes such as the “ Giro d’Italia " and the " Tour de France " !

Through lack of support i have been unable to achieve that goal and unless people decide to assist there is little chance that my 19th season will be any more successful !

London 2012 Paralympics was amazing for ALL , not just those participating but those who followed via the Media !

Since 2009 several other Blogs have been created to cover various other subjects !

Below is a guide to their separate purposes :

In the main Parrabuddy is about “Adaptive / Physically Challenged Sport” and Health Issues.

Skippi-cyclist is about personal issues and Road Safety Issues.

SkippyAus is about matters relating to Oz and some personal memories from my life there.

Tourdafarce & Tourdafrance are about matters relating to the Pro Tour , Racers and some personal experiences during my various visits to ride the Pro Tour routes .

Skippy (blogging) is about a variety of issues on the Internet .

NOT ALL postings arrive in their correct area but I will generally try to separate my views on Doping and Sporting Fraud from Road Safety Issues .

Comments ARE WELCOMED since this shows that those reading are interested in the subject matter ! Enjoy comments made to other blogs so wonder why only " anonymous " posts here !

Over the period of these "Blogs" I have had visibility on Twitter as “Skippydetour” and on Facebook as “Skippy Mc Carthy” where Google usually advise postings on the Blogs as they occur .

When any of you visit these Blogs I hope I am able to add value to your day and provide a source of information if not inspiration . Please consider asking your friends and contacts to add their support as many of the Para Athletes are struggling to find the resources to compete in Events at regional Levels let alone National Levels .

You the reader have the possibility to help these Amazing Athletes in your own way and contacting your National Paralympic Internet Site for relevant info is a good start !

Dec 16, 2009


During December 1995 I was skiing on Kitzsteinhorn Glacier,Austria when I met up with members of the Austrian Europa ski team. These guys were involved in training ski instructors for the Salzburgerland Bundessportsheim. At that time they were preparing for a variety of ski competitions so every afternoon they would set a slalom or reisen slalom race course to train on. I got involved in setting up the gates for the race courses and had several timed runs also. On one occasion I recall Hermann making a 27.8sec run whilst I took 33.4sec, the Herminator could have taken a coffee break and still beat my time!

Several of the guys suggested I should try racing in the masters program which I did during several seasons without a great deal of success, but at 50+ I had not expected to beat guys racing all their lives. I was happy with the experience and opportunity to visit different countries and different resorts each weekend during the race programme.

In 1997 I was in Courmeyer and was due to race at Lenzerheide the next weekend so decided to visit Sestriere during the break. Imagine my surprise to find that I had arrived at the start of the world ski championships. I visited with the resort sales team and dr. sam set me up with invitations and accreditation so that I was able to train and visit with some of the racers. I even trained with the Austrians again as they were now in the world cup team and remembered their amusement from our previous meetings. During the course of the weeks they commented on my performances and then recommended that I take up cycling for better muscle and power development. Well I went to lenzerheide and returned after some creditable performances to Sestriere to see the final races of the world championships.

I did try to train with a number of other teams but the aussies & brits thought that I was getting a better deal with the Austrians (perhaps they were a little jealous) so I trained with the Italians and Germans also, as I had met some of their trainers before. I asked Alberto Tomba if I could join him on his training track but got the impression that he did not encourage visiting firemen. I have met him on many occasions since and found him friendly and articulate. At Bormio 2007 he brought 4 members of the Italian Paraski team to the world season closing weekend.

On returning to Kitzsteinhorn I arranged with craig walker an English ski instructor to do a cycle tour later in the season. We eventually drove out to Straubing in august 1997 where we visited the Voelkl factory who had kindly helped me with equipment over several years. Camping there overnight in a rainstorm was no fun. On the Saturday we drove/cycled the route through to Kaprun where we stayed in a pension owned by craig‘s mate. Craig drove the flat and rode most climbs, I had the easier deal since it was my car and my road bike. We carried mountain bikes also. Sunday we took the mountain bikes for a couple of off track mtn climbs and around the lake at Zell am Zee.

Monday we headed over the Gerlos Pass to Innsbruck and Stubaital then to Seefeld for a free camping night. Tuesday was Pitztal and Otztal before climbing over the Timmelsjock pPass to Merano and the Gardazee, where we camped in a lakeside campsite at Malcesine. Wednesday was running and cycling around the lake shores. Thursday we drove/rode through to Sestriere where we free camped in the Pragelato national park(scene of the 2006 winter Olympic cross country events).Friday was another mtn bike day in the park. Saturday was Sestriere, Briancon, Lauteret, Des alpes, Alpd’huez and Chambery. Here we visited a wine outlet that I knew to stock up for the return trip to the UK. That night was spent in a campsite overlooking Aix les Bains cooking and sampling the wine.

During the cooking Craig said “next year we ride the tour de france” well we paid no great attention to that pronouncement. Craig went to teach tennis on the Vortersee and the first he knew of my exploits was seeing me on Austrian TV, of course when I arrived there in august i heard that I had featured outside France.

Sunday the car carried on creating drama until after lunch when the gearbox finally gave up and we were transported back to Basle before rail travel back to the UK.

In 1998 when I started out of Morlaix at the start of the Bastille etappe to Lorient I got kicked off the race route once again, I was running late and the cols were nightmares so the gendarmerie barricaded the road, so back I went to the first southerly exit. During the subsequent ride I got truly lost,crashed the bike lost the computer and arrived in Nantes after the race was finished. I asked a guy standing near what I didn’t realise at the time was the France TV compound for some directions to Cholet. His enquiring the reason why, led to me being introduced to what turned out to be a photo journo who arranged to meet me the following day at the start area. timing was early for him but after I had given up waiting for him, he caught up with me on his motorbike and then after several later visits to see me riding the route arranged that I arrive at the France TV compound that night for a discussion.

That evening he arranged his program to have a team follow me on the Friday, I was reluctant as I wanted to get the Pyrenees under my belt before this distraction. As it was France TV decided that this was their only option so I went along with their request. Whilst there I had the chance to congratulate Stuey O’grady for going into the “Maillot Jeune”., a sheepish smile from Stuey as he was there to do the interview not meet an old fart in cycle clothes.

Friday arrived with the usual delay of the team’s arrival. A journo, sound tech, cameraman and driver made up the TV team. I still see all but the journo at a variety of events since and they have helped credibility on many occasions such as an invite into “club france”at Athens Olympic in 2004 . Ted still arranges lunch invites at time trials whether with official or unofficial parties food and drink are always welcome. During the days’ filming we met Canadian cyclists on the route, some wheelchair spectators, a variety of personnel working with the tour and celebrities including Raymond Poulidor who now treats me like family when we meet at a variety of events. Lunch was at the official “Etappe Village” where a variety of sponsors, media and guests meet and greet. Eventually I arrived at the France TV compound where they had me hang about once more. During this time I had the chance to congratulate Stuey for the 3rd day running.

Imagine Stuey’s surprise to find he had been dragged into the compound for the express purpose of filming us together for the day’s story. Bemusement was written all over his face, but he was up for the task even if he thought it a bit odd. Next day was the Correize time trial, I was fortunate to get around the course with the camera crew in attendance so had little difficulty with the gendarmerie unlike some others who were swept up at control points. When we arrived back at the compound things were a little awry, I was told to hang about for a while and asked several people to get me thru the security as I thought my journo had forgotton me. Even “Duffers” had no success with the control that day. Eventually France TV came thru took me into their compound and forbade me to leave their area. Eventually the reason was apparent with the arrival of M. & Mme Chirac. The whole thing was over in minutes but that is the way of these situations.

Next days i became aware that the story had gone to air as so many people were telling me they had seen the story about the aussie riding for “Handisport”. suffice to say I did not see the program nor the newspaper articles throughout the rest of the tour. Media people from a number of outlets chased me up to do their version during any quiet moment they had. You would find me being interviewed as I rode the route with microphone or camera hanging out of their car, standing alongside personalities that they wished to introduce to me, at team hotels or even wherever I was sleeping.

It came to me that this was a good way to promote “disabled/para/adaptive/physically challenged sport. Later I would decide to ride a full season of cycle events to publicize Paralympic sports as I became aware of the number of athletes such as “daniel coulthard” who had they the support structure would be up for the challenge. On arriving back in the UK he told me he had stood at the top of the “champs elysee” with his friends and said “there goes my friend skippy” as I rode with the Australian and French flags through the caravan on the final day of the 1998 tdf. I had borrowed the French flag from the Hotel Trianon where lance stays in paris. As I started to ride through the finish line for the 3rd time the police decided that the tv had seen enough of me and was put into the tv compound where I was once again able to greet marco on his return from the podium .

During the tour I was grabbed by Marco and towed over to leoni his sougnier who was instructed to give me the hotel list and organise the cleaning of the bike , food and drinks whenever I arrived there. The personnel at Saeco also were doing this for me in the final week so I got to meet Cippo and Comezzo amongst others. The Mechanics and Sougniers with all the teams were amongst the friendliest people I have had the pleasure to meet then and since. My continuing to ride these tours is essentially due to these people because no matter how busy they were, they would get around to helping me sort out the problems I encountered. Language never was a problem because of their genuine desire to assist my quest for the disabled. Freddy the then chauffeur of Saeco is still on tour, still helping out with a ready smile, Giovanni the Saeco mechanic also is still there as is Leoni who still comes out with water and sustenance. Heroes all for this old fart. As recently as this giro , tour and world championship I was enjoying their very kind support! There are many others, too many to name with other teams, such is the nature of the industry that some have moved teams, retired from the peleton, moved to other countries so as they only rarely pop out of the woodwork. Victor hugo Pena is an example , he greeted me with Lance outside the hotel Trianon one year and several years later stops me in the flow of people at the world champs in Stuttgart.

Back to 1998, the day after the tour finished in Paris , I was walking with the bike and an aussie from Melbourne when street cleaners and gendarmes were pulling me up for a chat and autograph. At the Notre Dame and Eiffel tower I got luke shuffled to the front of the queues whilst I had a chat and did the autographs.

Much more went on during the tour but as I didn’t have nor have since carried a diary it has become disjointed but whenever I have had an address I have tried to write thank yous and in some cases send souveniers. Some people I was able to visit several times and like the family in Albertville was able to introduce them to some of the stars. Pascal at 2200hrs in Albertville called out to me “where do you sleep” I was on the lookout for a hostel at the time. Well the bike was parked a drink put in front of me as we waited for Annie his wife to arrive, we then arrived at the appartment about 2300hrs had a steak meal and chat before the son ,Charlie found his bed was appropriated for the night.Charlie bunked in the lounge .In the morning we arrived at a café where we bumped into a team masseur who took my sack and carried it to Neuchâtel. At the team hotel that night I asked Magnus when he was going to take an etappe. He tapped his nose and said it was coming. The next day was his and it took two seasons to catch him to congratulate him.

That Friday evening I met “JM” though his staff and even then he told me there was no place for “disabled sport” at the tour, and at the same time claimed Andre Auberge as a grand friend. Funny world, Chris Prudhomme was then working for France TV and in later years would tell me that things would be different when he took over. Well in 2008 on the rest day in Pau he told me he had succeeded in getting a paralympian to ride the time trial course as part of the program. One rider with no competition, ignored by the media is not an event. I spoke with Laurent Thiorenet as he was preparing(at Athens he had made an announcement naming me as responsible for assisting Parasport) to make his run. Prudhomme could have invited the country champions from all of Europe to come at their own expense to compete, and he would have had his event and a page in history rather than a footnote in this blog. The local tourist office had no idea there was a paralympian racing, no media person I spoke to had any idea that this was happening nor was Laurent’s time available to the public. You can bet that he a one legged guy had done better than many of the racers albeit they had been racing for 3wks at that time. As I was riding away across country towards the “arrival area” I was passed by Valverde who called me to join him and quite quickly we were doing an impressive pace. Out was 7kms and on the way back I lost the draft after 3kms, by that time I was blown, he reminded me of this at the Lugano Hotel where part of the Espana team stayed when he together with sanchez and the “Espana Team”were preparing to ride to mendrisio, I declined to ride with them as i was under doctors orders not to ride above 110 hbm and I knew how quick these guys could go.

I warned at the outset that this blog would be a ramble, so forgive my jumping back and forth through the years.

More disjointed memories will surface, persevere and enjoy the ride.

The story on the photo will come, don't worry!

Enough for this occasion!

No comments:

Post a Comment