How to Crew Chief

It’s a common misperception that my trips to Europe are for pleasure.  One might even wrongly assume that my trip last year was purely a whimsical, impulsive, spontaneous, self-indulgent move on my part.

But really, they serve a much more serious purpose.  You see, Em and Chris are crazy.

And they need adult supervision.

That’s where I come in – Crew Chief!

It always starts the same way – with their decision to do some INSANE ultra-run.  This year, it’s the 105 km Gran Trail Courmayeur in Italy.

Usually, Crew Chiefing involves getting them to the bus that takes them to the start line on time, then watching them on the race’s website all day (from the comfort of my couch) and texting each of them about the other’s progress, and sending encouraging messages throughout the day, and estimating their anticipated finish so I can be there to cheer them on for the last 100 yards or so, and then keeping the first to finish company until the other finishes, then taking a fantastic finish photo of the two of them (that’s the most important part, by the way), and then basically carrying them home and attending to their every need for the next 12 hours or so…

Of course, sometimes, it involves driving 100 miles to meet them with a delivery of their favorite Larkburger hamburgers, truffle fries and milkshakes.

Since they decided to spend the whole summer in Europe, my responsibilities this year have taken considerably more effort.  It began with coaching them thru their Dulles Dash, in which they had 16 minutes between when their flight from Denver landed and when their flight for Zurich departed.

Then a few days later, I get a request for Tupperwares.  You seriously want me to fly across the pond with Tupperwares?!

Oh, and toothpicks – the round ones.  And chili powder – they don’t have it here in France – who knew?!  And Skippy Natural Super Chunk peanut butter.  And while you’re at it, a big thing of Bob’s Red Mill gluten free oatmeal if they have it at your Wal-Mart.  And what’s your shipping address?  I’m going to order about 5 pounds of those little packets of gels – could you bring those, too?

This is what Crew Chiefing for someone on another continent looks like:

Note the curlers – since you’re multi-tasking, video chatting with your Crew on WhatsApp while in your robe and with a few of your curlers in, while Leo wraps up the breakfast you were smart enough to serve him first, since, after all, he is King Leopold.

You see, you wake up at 5:30 AM to a text message from your trying-not-to-show-it panicked crew that starts with:  “We’ve hit a bit of a wrinkle here …”

So you remind your crew that here in the States, we have the best invention ever – Amazon!  And UPS, which pretty reliably delivers overnight.  (FedEx… not so much… but that might have something to do with the ongoing war I have with him about backing over my landscaping lights and pretending it didn’t happen…)  So you give your Crew your Amazon login and tell them to put the cleats they want in your cart, and you’ll take care of the rest.  (While you drop an ever-so-subtle hint about what kind of chocolate you’d like to have waiting for you when you arrive, with the cleats.)

And that’s just the work involved in Crew Chiefing before you leave.  And you really just hope that the weather is nice while you’re there, because with 80 ounces of Skippy Natural Super Chunk peanut butter, 32 ounces of gluten free oatmeal, 5 pounds of gels (whatever those are) and … oh… Tupperwares… you really didn’t have room for that many clothes anyway…

And then you fly a ridiculous 38-hour itinerary from the Vail Valley to Geneva because, well, that’s what Crew Chiefing requires, sometimes.

It doesn’t hurt to pick up Assistant Crew Chief support along the way during your stopover in Dallas.  Because really, lets face it, by this time, you’re exhausted anyway.

Assistant Crew Chief … reporting for duty!