2001 World Championships
This article will discuss the 2001 Mountain Bike World Championships. September, 2001 was a difficult time for everyone, and it was difficult to post daily.
Each year, the best mountain bike riders of each country are called together for the World Championships. In 2001, the World's are in Vail, Colorado. The US riders are supported for the week by USA Cycling, the governing organization for cycling in the USA. While some US riders are supported by elite trade teams, the bulk of US athletes are not. For example, Volvo-Cannondale has only one US rider, while at our USA Team hotel, we are responsible for 63 athletes.
I am very proud of our staff, this year and every year. We performed 117 documented repairs, plus numerous repairs and services on the spot. Here from left to right are Calvin Jones, TJ Grove, Scot Banks, and Chip Howat.
The World Championships are a special time for the athletes, and the support staff. A group of select mechanics service the US riders. Simply put, our function as mechanics is to allow each athlete to participate without having a mechanical problem determine his or her race. To achieve this USA Team Shop mechanics operate as a team; checking in bikes, diagnosing repairs, servicing the bikes, and just doing what it takes to help the US Team get their best results.
Each year we bring the same US flag to hang in the USA Team Shop. This flag has been all around the world. During the 2001 World's, it hung at half mast. At the direction of USA Cycling, the mechanics have placed a black mark number plates of all US riders in honor of those who have died and were injured from the terrorists' attack.
Sunday: The final day, and in some ways the easiest. We are up late, and working by 5:30 AM. Junior riders are eating early because their racing is a 8:30. Only two minor repairs and some check overs to calm some pre-race nerves.
During the race, the riders prefer simple tools. Here a single Park Tool TL-1 tire lever and canned air hopefully will not be needed by Sue Hayward, elite woman rider.
Jiri Mainus, USA Cycling Technical Manager, is the "man behind the curtain." Lodging, plane tickets, meals are arranged by him for riders, mechanics, managers, therapists, doctors, and the entire support staff.
Jiri's tool kit, an espresso machine, travels everywhere with him.
There are a lot of bikes here, and this is always the time where we simply hang up the hopeless cases and get them out of the way. Broken forks, cracked frames, or sometimes a cracked rider means that the machine is no longer needed.
Saturday: Downhill finals are today, which are always intense. Much of the work we do is on these bikes, and today is the day that matters. There is only one run allowed per rider, so any mistakes or problems mean a less than desired result. Two mechanics stay in the shop, and two go to the top of the downhill.
The new TL-10 tire lever is put to the test by Chip. This tool has saved time on each use, and when you are working 15 hour days, any time saved is great.
While we repair a lot of bikes, we don't have time to clean each one. We leave this to the riders, and some riders got to try the new Park Tool BCB-4 Bike Cleaning Brush kit. Warm water, soap, and elbow grease not included.
In a pinch, the Park Tool PRS-5 repair stand doubles as a shoe horn. The shoe, seen upside down, needs new cleats, but the bolts are rusted seized. We are using an impact driver to loosen the bolts. A leason to all...grease those bolts!
Friday: Today there was to be racing between countries of the world. But today, there is no racing, there is no training, there is only a national day of morning and remeberence. The USA Team Shop staff attended special services along with the USA Team and all the teams at the World Championships.
There were flags everywhere at the 12:00 noon service. It was good to be around people we view as family, yet it is hard to be away from home.
Black ribbons were worn by riders and staff.
USA Team staff members TJ Grove, Eric Moore, and Bernard Condevaux watch the services. Their look says what we all felt.
Thursday: The shop is very busy now, as downhill seeding is today. The team relay is also today. Wednesday we were working from 5:30 AM to 11:15 PM, and this morning we open at 5:15 AM. Closing time will depend on what the downhillers hit and miss. So far, we have built four wheels for one downhill rider, each coming back like an cracked egg. (NOTE: We closed early this night at 9:00 PM because racing is cancelled Friday.
This is the underground parking garage of the hotel. There is a steep ramp going in, easy for cross-country bikes, but quite an effort for downhill bikes to go up.
This bike is getting a new headset. Notice the number sticker "101" on the frame. This bike has been to "bike marking", where the UCI race officials mark frame and wheels of each rider. This rider must finish the race with frame and wheels 101.
Downhill bike can weigh over 40 pounds, and can be very difficult to grab. The 100-3X from Park Tool is right at home holding secure whatever we throw at it.
Chip's tool box, but not including his coffee maker.
We had a crude tool board made for the big items. The TP#2 also holds special sized shop rags for athlete use.
This is an image of derailleur housing on a downhill bike, seen as we found it. Left alone, it will fail, possibly during the race. This type of inspection is critical to good results.
How many mechanics does it take to install a fork? Sometimes 3 or more, if it is a triple crown fork. This one was very difficult as the crown was deformed.
This image and the two below are about a downhill bike with a steering column that was miss mounted in the fork. The lower race will not secure to the fork seat, and lifts off easily with fingers. There will alway be play in the headset, unless we can find a repair.
The repair for the bike above was to machine a lot of material from the headtube. Not such a good thing to do. However, there were no airplanes flying after 9/11, so getting a new fork shipped "red label" was not an option.
After machining the headtube, we use a deburring tool to remove the sharp inside edge. This helps guide the cup in straight.
Sometimes there are problems in the race. The mechanics do their best to see that the machine is not the source of the problem, but in this case the machine was the problem. We always try to do a double check of our work. Having a second set of fresh (or at least different) eyes can help catch a problem, which is why the mechanics work as a team. This downhill bike was not double checked. Notice the chain guide in the image below. The guide was too high above the chain, and the chain climbed up and off the ring, jamming in the frame and ruining the rider's race. Mechanic's feel this kind of error in their gut, and it becomes a reminder to not repeat the error.
The USA Team and the USA Team Shop was based in the Hotel Gasthof Gramshammer. The hotel staff was a great help during the week, and we thank them for the effort.
The 2001 USA Team Shop mechanics were:
Calvin Jones: Mr. Jones is employed by the Park Tool Company and has 26 years experience in the cycling industry. He is a USA Cycling Mechanic Clinic Instructor and a member of the Mechanics Advisory Council. He has experience with Olympic, World Championship, National, and local competition. He is the Manager of the USA Mechanics for the 2001 World's.
Chip Howat: Dr. Howat, a licensed bicycle mechanic, graduate of the Barnett Bicycle Institute, member of the Mechanics Advisory Council. He is also a USA Cycling Race Mechanic Clinic Instructor. He has served previously as a member of the USA Team Shop at World's in Vail, Germany, Australia and Switzerland.
TJ Grove: Mr. Grove is a Luna-Chick MTB Team Mechanic and has worked at numerous World Cups and World Championships.
Scot Banks: Mr. Banks is service manager of Absolute Bikes in Salida Colorado. He is a USA Cycling licensed mechanic, has experience with Mavic Technical Support, and comes to cycling out of the high performance automotive industry. Scot is seen here finishing another wheel for the race.