Greenway Soigneur for Powderhorn 24

By : Sarah Engen · August 22, 2015

Being a soigneur is so delightfully satisfying. What does that strange-cool-sounding term mean? Soigneuring is taking care of others, primarily in a cycling race. Ya know, it’s a French word.  In the professional scene, you'll find a soigneur driving you to the start, handing off a musette (=cool bag with a long strap) with a bottle & bar in the feed zone, or flushing your calves after a hard race day. Some of the best soigneurs are birthed out of Europe.  But for lil’ old midwestern me, cycling grew from watching out of the window in the back of grandma's hot ass station wagon to see grandpa wearing numbers in a pack of bikes as we toted along the race course and >>>>fastforward 20 years of being a rad lil' commuter>>>> to 24 hour bike races.  My first true 24-hour bike race where I pitched a massage tent up was Riverwest 24.  I made a bunch of good friends while falling in love with the giant mash of a midwestern cycling scene…and fawned over the Riverwest co-op.

(Note to self: visit Milwaukee again, “the good land.”)

But something was missing, this wasn’t my home, these weren’t my everyday people, these were not my regular streets. Regardless, I returned to Minneapolis inspired and closer to understanding why cycling is such an important part of my life.

WHAT A DELIGHT when I discovered Minneapolis would be holding a race similar to Riverwest 24 in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood. I mean, who doesn’t want to see how much of a bicycling monster they can be!?!  


An unearthly, supernatural passion drives these racers, most especially cyclists who complete alone.  Racers on teams get one of the best opportunities, both to ride and to play, but most especially being able to hold a torch and build team momentum having a shared sense of accomplishment no matter the results.  Being the proud caregiver I am, it warms my heart to hear from racers on my table explaining what they’ve learned in their ability to work and push past physical barriers while still being able to listen to their body’s needs throughout the race or years of racing.

Personally, I’ve never fully finished a Powderhorn 24 race route. I’ve never raced it period. Maybe someday I will if I'm feeling monster enough & yes, my glory days are yet to come.  But luckily, I have found complete satisfaction playing Buddha by planting my bottom somewhere along the route each year to watch the deteriorating states of the racer’s bodies.  It’s beautifully insane. In the end, once there’s only delirium and swollen quads with seven o’clock falling sun, there’s a serious sense of peace in the late summer air.

Every year, I make a commitment to attend the annual Fourth of July Freedom from Pants bike ride and I always have managed my hairbrain schedule to try to help the Powderhorn 24 massage tent live on. These are my two commitments to the Minneapolis cycling scene. Having a massage tent present at the race helps riders have an awareness and reminder of alternative methods of self-care as an important part of recovery in training and racing. (SHOUTOUT to the lovely Sarah Bonneville with Villa Bee Healing Arts for holding the tent down the past couple years as I have succumbed to grad school.) I'm always so amazed by the turnout. It begins to feel like a nostalgic family reunion that brings excitement to my heart - and not the kind of excitement where you're about fail at the egg toss against your auntie.

To the riders and teams, I salute you for another great year under your belt.

We'll see you in the streets.

Powderhorn24, 2013 - Photo by: Sarah Bonneville

Powderhorn24, 2012 - Photo by: Jose Carlos

Riverwest24, 2011 - Photo by: 2F4

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