The guitar in the corner and the dozens of backstage passes are two clues dotted around Chuck Platt’s corridor office at Giro.
By day, he is global sports marketing director for the California based helmet, clothing and shoe brand, the point of liaison between the top talent and the company . By night, he is a star for another Santa Cruz success story, punk rock band Good Riddance.
“The band goes off of my schedule,” bassist Platt says. “No touring in December, January or February, because that’s team training camps and everything else. July: shutdown. August, you have Eurobike, all the trade shows. So we weave in and out of all that, and it works.”
Platt toured the world for 14 years, playing to tens of thousands of festivalgoers at the likes of Leeds and Reading. In between, he was the office moocher, often popping in and hanging out with his friend Eli Atkins, the creative services director.
The prevailing joke was that he’d end up working with Giro. So it transpired: he started out at sister company Bell with BMX stars like the late Dave Mirra, moving into snow sports with Giro and then into road cycling in 2006.
His role includes ensuring Giro athletes have what they need – when we talk, he had just shipped some laces to the Tour Down Under – help with sizing (“I’ve seen a lot of feet”) and preparing umpteen helmet colour ways in case their riders win national championships.
It’s all underpinned by the same philosophy: “Take the best care and treat everybody equal, from the biggest Tour de France star to one of your local Red Hook crit guys. ‘Cos that’s what I always wanted, to be treated fair.”
Being on the Tour de France is not much different from going on tour. “They want their space: I know that. I want to not talk about music, really; they don’t wanna talk about cycling. If you can get in there and talk about anything else.”
With his soothing West Coast drawl and permanent smile, Chuck Platt is not what you might expect of a tattooed, bald man who can thrash a guitar. Life here in Santa Cruz is worlds away from his upbringing. “I grew up down in Long Beach with Snoop Dogg. It was gnarly. Oh yeah, it was crazy. That’s why I moved here, I got sick of it, gangs. I got robbed two or three times at gunpoint.
“Nothing really crazy ever happens,” Platt says of his job, which has to compete with his lively youth and 25 years on the punk rock circuit. But he has taken Alberto Contador partying in Las Vegas and became friends with Lance Armstrong, who calls him “Cookies”. Eh?
“I have a tattoo on the inside of my lip that says creep,” he explains. “I was at Lance’s house one time and he asked me to show his daughters the tattoo. They were like ‘what does it say?’ I’m not going to tell a 12-year-old it says creep. So, I go ‘it says cookies… because I love cookies.’”
On the ground at the sport’s biggest road races, Platt is there in the background if his riders need anything. Sometimes, he can wait hours for a two-minute conversation; occasionally, the need is far more pressing. Before one Tour de France TTT, a team mechanic took a Dremel tool to the inside of a helmet to reduce weight. Big mistake: it split its top. The team was due to start in 30 minutes, and the Giro van was a mile away.
“I panicked, ran over there, then to the start and switched the helmet. They weren’t really up on the start ramp yet but they were gathered around, waiting to be called up. That’s probably the only emergency I’ve ever had.”
When everything goes smoothly, it’s a simpler pleasure. “I’m seriously lucky. I love what we do and I meet so many people from around the world,” he says. “And to make people stoked: if they win a time-trial, you feel like you’re somewhat part of it. I know I did my work, you won, high five.”
This feature is an extract from Rouleur 17.7