This article started off as a Reverence for the Camelbak Podium, and might still be, who knows, it’s late and my mind is scrambled. As often happens when searching for a suitable image for an article, tangents often appear from nowhere and derail the original train of thought. Soon one finds oneself careening out of control towards the only bend in the track where it just so happens the only town within 2000km that has a massive nuclear reactor/fuel refinery is situated adjacent to said bend. (Sorry about that, I was unfortunate enough to witness the worst movie ever recently and it’s really messed with my head. There’s those tangents again. Spoiler: the train really is stoppable, which I deduced by, oh, the synopsis in the tv guide.)
Anyway, bidons. The one piece of cycling equipment that is the most essential besides the actual bike. The one thing that should never be left at home. The saviour, the giver of life, the fuel tank for the engine for the chassis. Just go out for even less than an hour of riding sans bidon, and you’ll be crying like a baby does for bitty.
There’s been much talk about the humble bidon around here already, so in a way this seems even pointless to say. But say it I will: Camelbak Podiums are the duck’s guts. It doesn’t even matter why, just use one and you’ll know. I’ve lost count how many I own, have owned, lost, or finally thrown out when the black, hairy growth is no longer able to be controlled. A dilemna that Pro teams rarely face, as most of their bidons get supped from once, before jetison to the roadside and into the clutches of baying souvenir hunters (or the front yard of a bemused, elderly Italian lady).
The job of the waterboy is probably the most denigrating for a Pro, even if many domestiques are resigned to the fact that it goes with the territory; there’ll still be a pecking order among them and the neo-Pro will be unmercifully sent back to the cars to load up with as many bottles as they have pockets or orifices to stash them. Or maybe the indignity just feels like there’s a bidon or two where the sun don’t shine.
Imagine wearing the Maillot Jaune, the biggest moment of a career spent working for others, a career with very little in the way of wins or the world’s attention, and being told to “go get us some water, will ya?” while every camera in France is trained upon you. It has happened. Or you are a National Champion, or World Champion? Is this the ultimate disrespect to not only the rider, but the jerseys themselves?
Water giveth life, then cruelly and coldly snatches it right out from under you, for all to see. Cycling has class structure, just like life, and the waterboy is decidedly stuck on the bottom wrung of the social ladder, no matter even if they are dressed up in their best for the day.