Graham, a member of the squad since the pre-COCC days came to talk to us about his how he got involved and why it means so much to him and to share some very useful information about the stops along the way.
What is your involvement with COCC?
Initially I was here for the first ride which was actually only 7 people and it went from here to Saint Tropez and we took them all back in the cars and that was through McLaren Construction. It wasn’t a COCC ride, but it was a ride done with Terry Torrinson and all the other lads such as Kevin Taylor of McLaren construction. From that came COCC 4 months later, a ride from St Tropez to Monaco. That’s when I got involved. I was asked to fly over from the UK and drive the car to support the riders. From then on I’ve done every single one of the rides (accept from one) as the support driver.
So what happens before the ride from a technical point of view?
On the Saturday morning we go to the Monaco digue, and we collect all of the bikes from those that want their bikes transported to St Tropez. That takes place from around 9/9.30am, we give them until around 11/11.30am to get their bikes to us and then we take the bikes down to St Tropez where most people come and collect them on the same day (Saturday) around 4.30/5.30pm at the car park of Hotel Sube which is the hotel just above the Café de Paros.
We also transport all the drinks and energy bars supplied by Simon Gook from #1 and any other bars and snacks people bring along.
We’re then back in the car park around 5.30am, at which point some of us aren’t in the best of states because the Saturday in St Tropez is also a night for everyone to enjoy. We’re there to make sure everyone has all that they need for the ride. The cycling club of Monaco is also there to provide technical support for anything that goes wrong with people’s bikes. They’re also there all the way through the ride and sit in the lead van with me.
Former pro-cyclist Juilen Camellini owner Camellini Cycling in Beaulieu-Sur-Mer, supports the riders along with Monaco Cycling Club who are our contacts on the bikes for any mishaps, accidents or mechanical failures and all riders will have a GPS of some sort. All they need to do is contact us with which kilometre they’re at and we will know where to pick them up.
Steve Stanway is in the last van following the riders and everyone knows who he is because he introduces himself at the car park in St Tropez before the ride.
Stop 1: Saint-Raphaël
The first stop is the most important stop because it’s just before the Esterels. The location is in Saint Raphael and is just when the beach finishes and you come to the car park in the port. We’re always in the first entrance of the car park. This year there’ll be a pirate flag at the stop, in honour of the pirate who failed to find the stop 2-years ago (chuckles). He actually was supposed to supply everyone with the drinks…
Stop one is seen as the most important as it gives the cyclists the supplements needed before hitting the Esterels which is the most challenging part of the route.
Stop 2: Cannes-Mandelieu
The second stop is just outside the Pullman hotel in Cannes Mandelieu, in the same place as last year. We’re going to be just outside, near the Ermitage (not Hermitage). Here the riders will be able to eat some food, usually some sandwiches, croissants, pain-au-chocolates and of course Snickers and Mars bars.
Stop 3: Just past Antibes Castle (Fort Carré)
The third stop is outside the Hippodrome, just after Antibes Castle. We’re always on the beach side of the road. This is our last stop that we help the riders with, and then their next stop is Ma Nolan’s in Nice.
Once the last rider gets to Ma Nolan’s, that’s when Steve Stanway’s van gets there, and that’s the point when we ask the cyclists to head off as one. This is because when they get to Cap d’Ail they’ll be met by the police who will chaperone them into Monaco. The roster point will be by the Lamborghini Monaco garage at which point everyone will make their way towards the finish line at Stars & Bars in Monaco.
The riders are met by a huge welcome from family and friends at Stars’N’Bars in Monaco which is always a nice thing to see, they then get to tuck into some tasty oysters and nice chilled champagne.
After Stars’n’Bars we head to Slammers and then the party really gets going. Food, drink, live music and the general frivolities of Slammers, of which I think everyone’s aware of. It’s great fun, and tickets are available behind the bar in Slammers.
There are also the AWARDS! There’s a gold peddle, silver peddle and a bronze peddle… and also the anorak is handed out as well.
These are usually for really good achievement in the ride, or, for some less good achievements…
Why the anorak?
The anorak is for someone that takes it a little bit too seriously. *someone* usually wins this award.
How would you describe COCC?
It’s an amazing thing. It’s grown into a community. It’s great for people to get involved if they’re new in the area to meet some people and has such great health benefits. One lad spoke volumes on how being a member of COCC has really helped him to get fit and stay fit, so along with helping the HRH Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation with their fight for the education of water safety, it’s helping the local community with their health and well-being too.