TR Press UK - 12-07-2017

It's become something of a lifestyle

Married couple Louise Blom Jensen and Kim Nielsen are currently riding in their third Tour de Paris with Team Rynkeby Midt-Vest. Louise is a mechanic on the team, and Kim drives her car.

Stage 4, Legden: "Louise? Can you look at this?", yells a soaking-wet cyclist at the day's first stop.

Louise Blom Jensen, standing with her back turned, spins around and moves quickly to the mechanic's car where she pulls out her tools. She squats down and begins to adjust a pedal that appears to be giving the wet cyclist problems.

Louise Blom Jensen has worked as a bike mechanic for 7-8 years, and for the last three years she's been a mechanic for Team Rynkeby Midt-Vest.

"I've made bikes for Solveig (team captain, ed.) for several years, and she asked me if I wanted to come to an information meeting – and I didn't see any harm in that. But when I showed up, it turned out that it was actually the team that had gathered, and that I was now part of it. And then I was sort of stuck with it," laughs Louise Blom Jensen, when she rejoins her husband Kim in the mechanic's vehicle.

"I told Solveig that if I was going to be involved, then so was Kim. And that's what happened," she says.

"Kim and I do everything together – we're a team within the team. It works best when we drive together, and now Kim also has his bike chain tightening licence so he can help out," laughs Louise Blom Jensen.

A tragic event
The couple had actually decided to end their joint Team Rynkeby career after their début trip in 2015, but a tragic event made them change their minds.

"The first year we started the Tour de Paris at Landsskuepladsen in Herning. And our team-mate Thomas's daughter Lærke was there to see us off. Lærke had cancer of the brain stem – and at that point, all of her numbers looked good. But when we got back from our summer holidays, we were told that she has passed away," says Louise Blom Jensen, and continues:

"The news of Lærke's death meant that we had to be part of Team Rynkeby again. Because if we can do something to keep this team rolling, then we can raise more money for sick children, and so we have to do it – and we've been part of it ever since. It's become something of a lifestyle," she says.

The golden three minutes
This year's Tour De Paris has, until now, been a relatively quiet one for the married couple in the mechanic's vehicle.
The first year they participated there were 21 punctures from Herning to Paris. The year after there were 19, and this year so far there have only been three.

"It looks set to be a quiet trip. But the funny thing is that we can sit here in the car relaxing behind the wheel, and in the next second someone's yelling about a breakdown and we're racing to the scene at 500 km an hour and it all looks like a war zone," says Kim Nielsen.

And Louise Blom Jensen adds:

"I have a clear agreement with the lieutenants that when a cyclist has an issue, then I quickly need to assess whether I can handle it and get the cyclist back in the field within three minutes. That means that I have about 90 seconds to handle the issue, because it takes about 90 seconds to drive the cyclist back to the field," she says.

"If I can't fix the problem in 90 seconds, then we put the cyclist in the car while I fix the bike, and we drive the cyclist ahead of the field and let him or her out with the bike – but the vast majority of issues can be handled within the three minute limit," she says.

Right now, Louise Blom Jensen and Kim Nielsen can't imagine any other way to take a week-long summer holiday together.

"It's amazing to be part of this – it's something of a lifestyle. You're actually working for an entire week, but it's also a strong social fellowship," says Louise.

"And we also like to think that we're helping to make a difference – both for the cause itself, and also for them out there," says Kim Nielsen, pointing in the direction of the cyclists outside, who, soaking wet from the rain, are nearing the halfway mark of the day's 188-km-long stage.





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