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 !

Jan 10, 2010

EL DIABLO aka Didi Senft

First meeting of “El Diablo” was at 1998 Tour de France on the Friday I was being accompanied by the TV3 broadcast crew who were recording my activities that day. I had passed him in previous days and seen some of those activities that you see on TV. Normally as I ride the route several hours in front of the race I will find him around 25km before the finish . He will be meeting and greeting the public and “Sponsors’ Personnel” as they pass along the race route. Generally he is bare-chested whilst hanging around his van and trailor if he is towing one of his “bikes”, although he will put on the shirt and skullcap to oblige those looking for photos.

Some Sponsors drop off food and drinks as well as “gadgets”. So I have come to expect that he will oblige when I need a cold “coke or other fizz drink” as I pass. I recall on the Giro in the earlier years arriving at the bottom of a climb just before the finish, I was about done energy wise. He gave me a “power bar gel” and after a chat not only climbed the hill but did the following circuit as well. Coming onto the climb for the second time I was caught by the Peleton so had to get off the bike and watch as the first racers went by. The people there had a BBQ going outside their shop so I was invited to join in and a couple of the racers commented on my luck as they passed. In fact I then started passing out water as some of the back markers passed.

The 2009 Tirreno-Adriatico Time Trial route passed this way on a Sunday but there was nobody there this time , I guess it was their day off. I still found a gathering to join, the Italian hospitality is one of the things I have come to enjoy at the tours. Families think nothing of inviting people even strangers to tuck into their feast which generally is a competition by the various ladies to provide the best of their cooking and baking. At various tours I have come across Anzacs on the side of the routes because these people have told me of them. When they do this I ask if they would like to invite them to join the party. I have had many emails from both hosts and invitees about how they enjoyed their day. I on the other hand was off down the road to the finish in most cases.

These days whenever he is in or around the “Tour Villages” he has his Journo mate with him as he seems to be the PR element but on some occasions he has his lady with him. He gets to go inside the village from time to time at the expense of some of his “Sponsors”.

You will find Didi at the World Road Championships and occasionally at the Giro d’Italia and Tour de Suisse usually with the van. When he flew into Sydney on the Friday afternoon he walked the 15km from the airport to the opera house and settled down for two nights in the botanic gardens which border on the Governor’s home. Didi had welded five cog wheels into the “Olympic symbol” to hang around his neck. Dressed in his costume he was a familiar sight, but to the security guards well, they chased him out several times as a danger to the public.

Sunday morning I was riding Centennial Park with Jeannie Longo when I was the trident chalked on the road, seeing some people sitting there I discovered that it was a “crazy man dressed in red and black carrying a rubber fork”. Pretty obvious who it was to us cycle fans, so I tried cycling around hoping to find him. After about an hour I asked some cycle cops if they had seen him and gave my mobile number for the contact. I had been told about his nocturnal activities so I went down to the security post and explained who he was. They thought the cogs were “ninja rings” but were surprised to hear he was in the “Guinness Book of Records”. Late afternoon I got a call from the ambulance cycle guys saying that Didi (they had another name) was seen sleeping in Hyde Park near the memorial, so over I went there.

When my shadow dropped on Didi he opened his eyes and went “Skippy”, apparently I was the first person he had come across who knew who he was. Didi speaks no English so could get no help with taxis, accom or eating and he had a small soft backpack with change of underwear,etc apart from the rubber trident with him. Talk about travelling light! I decided the best plan was to get him to a german who could translate and arrange matters for him. Getting him to come with me to central rail was a chore as he didn’t want to leave the city but I dragged him with my bike down the road. Seeing him with a cyclist and bike caused the penny to drop as several people stopped us and asked for a photo.

On the train to Stanmore and the Concordia club we were surrounded by cycle fanatics who were grabbing autographs and photos. When we reached the Concordia club the manager proved to be a real fan as he gave Didi a bed in his own home which was near Centennial Park. Next day I saw Didi with Ron Niewand walking the park and on the Tuesday I took him out on “Big Foot” the boat I was living on during the Sydney have all seen Didi leaping in the air on land, well the Wednesday edition of the SMH has his photo with him airborne on water! From then until he flew out on the weekend he was the star once again. He wrote an interesting story of his Sydney visit, class it as fiction!

During subsequent Tours Didi has carried my bags and given me rides when the Peloton has passed, one occasion was a Sunday in 2001 out of the Maurienne valley towards Grenoble where the rest day was to be on the Monday. I was at the hotel when Lance arrived from the race, amongst those waiting was a couple who had visited George Hincapie at Bollene on the Dauphine Libere. On that visit I received a bottle of their wine and was lucky enough to have a repeat donation. Their vineyard is on the slopes of MT Ventoux and it was a very nice wine. Looking forward to renewing the friendship but George will have to give me the email address. On the Tuesday we had the ITT to Chamrousse which I rode several times in years past. It is a favourite ski resort from earlier years.

This year Didi was parked on the last climb to Gran Bornand ,the Col de Columbiere , arriving at his van after passing through a storm I was able to grab a welcome refresher. At that time there was still a strong headwind as it was on a open slope but a little higher up the wind moderated and at the top the rain had stopped but the blockade was in place, so through the mud to the back of the control and on the bike for a rapid descent and warmer weather the further I went. By the time I was stopped at the 1km mark corner I had dried out and was presentable enough to catch up with Nicolas Sarkozy at the finish of the Arrival formalities. I saw Didi during the climb to MT Ventoux but that day I was in a hurry to get over the top before the Gendarmerie started imposing order on the awkward visitors who thought this old fart should be walking the climb like they were.

I let my feet pedal as if you can walk it you can ride it, but there are many times in many tours where people have to get out of their car to walk in to a viewing spot. Because of this they then treat the riders with a lack of respect! How can you go to watch the “profis “ in action and treat the “amateurs” with disrespect, it’s beyond me!

Didi’s winter exploits continue , as seen in this photo!

Didi’s winter exploits continue in the photo!

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