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2009 MTB World Championships- Canberra Australia

Each fall, near the end of the racing season, the best mountain bikers gather for the UCI World Championships. This year, the event is near Canberra, Australia, where the finest cross country, trials, and gravity riders will meet to do battle and name a World Champion for each discipline. To me, the Worlds is a special event. Most of the year, athletes represent their respective corporate sponsors. However, at the World Championships, they ride for their country, and each other.

See also related articles: 2001 USA / 2003 Italy / 2004 France / 2005 Italy / 2007 Scotland / 2008 Italy / 2010 Canada

I will be attending this year as the USA Team Chief Mechanic, and will attempt to post here while I am "down under". The most current posts will be at the top. For more background, see below.

Monday 07 Sep 2009

There is nothing that is so over when it is over as a bike race. Bikes are packed, good-byes said, and it is off to the airport. We are leaving our home, the Belconnen Premium Inn. It was a sucessful World Championships, especially at the USA Team Shop. Bikes were fixed, riders stress kept to a minumum, nothing stolen, and no one hurt...much.


The USA Team mechanics were proud serve. Left to right: Than White, TJ Grove, Calvin Jones, and Dave MacMunn.

 


Even USA Team Coach Marc Gullickson washes his bike in preparation for packing. It is not only to look good, there is often an inspection for soil at the airport, and that will cause delays while it must then be unboxed and cleaned.

Sunday 06 Sep 2009

Downhill Championships today, and it is all hands on deck. We need two mechanics at the top, and we will have two in the tent. Again there is practice, and there are a lot of crossed fingers for luck. Riders will make 2 or 3 practice runs, hitting each rock at full speed. It is not uncommon that we will need to do some major repairs before the finals begin.

We will split up for the DH. Dave MacMunn and Than White will be at the tent and makes sure the athletes leave for the top in a timely fashion. Any last minute repairs such as flats, and smashed wheels will be quickly and calmly repaired...or that is our plan. TJ Grove and I will be at the top with trainers for warm up. When it gets close to their time, I feed the riders down to TJ Grove at the start gate. He gives them to the UCI official as they enter the staring box. They then get a count down and then we worry them all the way down to the finish.

If you are interested, here are the start times for our USA riders. If your name is on this list, be there, or be DNS'd.
11:08 Geoffrey Ulmer
11:18 Shawn Neer
11:30 Luciano Worl
11:44 Kevin Aiello
12:10 Mitch Ropelato
13:08 Kathy Pruitt
13:18 Malissa Buhl
14:02 Brian Lopes
14:10 Joey Schusler
14:19 Cody Warren
14:23 Kyle Strait
14:32 Luke Strobel
14:48 Duncan Riffle
15:21 Aaron Gwin

Of course there are plenty of other racers from other countires, but the USA riders are the ones our bosses want us to worry about. You will need to catch the shuttle up, and if you want some trainer time, plan on leaving for the top no later then 60 minutes before your start. And remember, BRING YOUR UCI TRANSPONDER. All fourteen USA athletes, please have a great race.

 

USA DH team 2009
A lot of red white and blue moving very fast. Can you tell who got the bronze?

PCS-10
The Australian mechanic was quite pleased to have use of the PCS-10 that I brought up to the DH start

BOON IT
The course was lined with fans. This group encouraged each rider to "Boon the ride", in the vernacular of the locals.

Saturday 05 Sep 2009

This the is big day for Elite XC, both men and women race today. But for Gravity there is also no rest as they have a day of practice. TJ Grove and Dave MacMunn will cover the XC and Than White will cover the DH practice. What of yours truly? Covering the hotel. Not a day off but the closest thing I will have. XC U-23 and Junior riders are washing and packing bikes and I will listen to my slow boring music while I sort the shop and get it ready for the DH bike work this evening.


A very comfortable twenty-foot container, at least for today's weather

The hotel shop is not normally the place for breaking news, but thanks to the riders who pedaled back, I have some. Elite USA woman Willow Koerber takes the bronze!! That is fantastic news, even more fantastic then the Wallaby and Emu quesadillas the juniors cooked up and shared with me. These simple pleasure make the trip bearable, but knowing these bikes are well prepared is its own reward.

Attention to detail is part of the service. Much of what we do is basic, like geting bolts properly tight, but for some things we dig deeper. For example if a rider needs a tire swapped, and we see bad rim strips, they are replaced, without question.

FSA
Old and worn rim strips are replaced, even if they held together with the lucky electricians tape


A adhesive cable guide is added to Kathy Pruitt's Jamis. A hex wrench is placed inside and it is clamp tightly in order for the adhesive to achieve intimate contact with the substrat.

Friday 04 Sep 2009

XC U23 Men race today. The U23 is a relatively new category. There was a Junior category that ended once a rider turned 18 years of age. These riders were expected to compete against riders with much more experience. The UCI decided to add the U23 to give them more time to develop.

This has been the traditional day for Downhill Seeding. However, this year the UCI is not hold a seeding run. Rather it will be a "timed event". Riders must start at an assigned time, but the finish times mean nothing. Rider are run according the their UCI world ranking, with top ranked at the end.

In the evening we will see the 4X World Championships, always a crowd pleaser. But first, we begin with the usual. Up, open the shop, load and go.

This world of racing is a bubble, self contained, and it is easy to think you are the center of the world and nothing is more important. Yet if you pay attention something comes along that reminds you of what is really important.


The PFP-4 brings up the tire pressure of this 3-wheeled vehicle. I hope the passenger will grow up safe and healthy to become a budding young racer, or better yet, a technician.

It is our policy to not wash bikes, but there is an exception to every rule. The USA Cycling coach's bike would embarrass us, so we give it a scrub using the BCB-4 . Tip: use hot water, real hot. It was not too cold to wash, despite the early frost, because the soapy foam didn't freeze on the bike.


It's a great day to wash a bike

My staff here reads up on all the technical literature to stay current. We talk to athletes to get their thoughts. We attend manufacturers seminars. We spend our evening in shop talk. We live and breathe this stuff. However, actually quite often, our job is to be a mule, just a mule. We must haul around a lot of equipment from the tent to the start or trucks.


One of the best pack horses I have ever had in my stable, Than White

At the top of the downhill is the Stromlo Observatory. It was destroyed in 2003 by a forest fire. A new system of observatories have been built on the same site.


Through the ruins of the old observatory you see the new one


This is the crank and chain system that once turned the dome of the observatory. Not even the CM-5 is likely to help that chain now.

The DH run today is a timed event. You must start on time, no exceptions. To help the riders, and us, remember the exact start time, we write it on the back of the number plate.


Who's IBIS is starting at 12:16:30? Brian Lopes, former World Champion

There is a warm up tent at the top of the DH, and the USA mechanics set up shop. Not a bike, but a comfort station of sorts. We have trainers with our loaner bikes already mounted, water, a pump, some parts and tools. We track all our USA rides as they arrive at the top until they leave from the starting gate.


The BW-1 made a nice work station


Mitch Ropeleto shows 'em how it's done

What is the job of a mechanic? What is the role of the race mechanic? Fixing bikes certainly. But in MTB racing especially there is much more. As put by TJ Grove, "Mechanics are the grease and the glue of the team". There is so much truth in that statement. Organizing the vehicles, getting the bikes and equipment packed, knowing where the key places are, such as officials offices, toilets, start line, etc. Even having safety pins. Is it the job of a mechanic to supply pins for the jersey numbers? In this shop, you simply stop asking that question and get the job done.


Our work containers are feeling a little too much like home as we approach the end of our week. The bagged safety pins are for the coaches, Marc Gullickson and James Deaton. The head lamp? Well, you don't want to know.

Thursday 03 Sep 2009

Junior men XC Championships will be at 10:30, but DH smashing, I mean practice, starts at 9:00. As is the norm, we are up early, opening up the shop, performing on last check on the race machines, packing equipment finally heading for the venue. It will be a long day for us because 4X is from 1400 to 1830, including qualifying runs.

It is important to understand that it is the nature of bicycles, as two wheeled vehicles, to be inherently unstable. What I mean by this is that give a chance, a bike would just a soon fall over as not. Junior XC Zach MacDonald keeps it rubber side down most of the time, but in his race he caught the course banner and deaccelerated, hard. Our medical staff is here for illness and also for this situation. Karen Eberhardt is the nursing staff of the team and cleans the flesh wounds of Zach.

 


Karen gets to work while Zach recounts the story of the crash

We get by here with a little help from our friends. Well, maybe more then a little, as we have been made very welcome. You only to ask and people are willing to assist. Steve Hanley is president of the Canberra Off Road Cyclists. He is loaning us three bikes to place on the trainers when riders warm up. The DH bikes can be very difficult or even impossible to mount on a trainer, and now they can just hop up on one of these great rides.


Steve Hanley reaches into his bike collection and wins some friends for life...us!

The PCS-10 holds shoes as well as bikes. This shoe was splitting apart and it should be replaced. Guess the rider should have thought of that before, but now it must be fixed. We use epoxy and then filed it smooth the next morning.


Yes, it is cold, frosty cold at 0530. My fashionable hat is actually old USA National Team wear from the '80's. The juniors call it my beenie, but it is wool and helps me remember the history of the sport, something I feel is important.

Bernard Condevau is a physical therapist and has work numerous elite events such as World Championship and the Olympics. He is part of what I consider the "A-Team" of staffers, along with the rest of us. To put his role in simple terms I can understand, he is the body mechanic. I take care the bikes, he takes care of the power plants.


When aligning certain metals it is best to begin with hand pressue, and I guess that also applies to physical therapists and athletes. Here Bernard is working on pro DH rider Duncan Riffle.


Attention to detail is the sign of a professional. Duncan Riffle uses friction tape on the lever to ensure a good shift when he really needs it

Trials is a based on a points system a bit like golf. The lowest score wins. If you put your foot down, you get a point. There are series of different courses, each presenting different challenges.


USA athlete Michael Schiavone shows us a real moon walk

The BBB-2. has many new editions, but it is lacking is some of the special techniques used by certain athletes. For example, "If you lack braking power, take a grinder to your rims sidewalls." Well, maybe this section will not be added to any new edition, however, that is what is commonly done in Trials on a rim brake. The rims are extra thick. The new roughened surface helps the rim brake pads stop now, and I mean NOW!!!


Michael Schiavone creates some new aspirates on the rim surface, and has a good time doing it

Security is a very important part of our job at Worlds. There are thieves here, I can feel it, there always are. These are not local, but wolves the follow the herd to World Cups and Championships. I have had bikes stolen from under my watch and that memory I will carry forever. Since that time, we cable and lock the bike together with the best, with Kryptonite security equipment.


TJ Grove cables the bike each night with a Kryrtonite cables and locks . Then the container down are shut and locked as well. We then drive a truck in front of the doors.

I am very proud to serve with these gentlemen. However, you better keep on your toes, make an error and blood is in the water. No matter what, we cover one another's backs, and know that it is the group effort that will provide the best service for our USA athletes.

Than White, Dave MacMunn, Calvin Jones, TJ Grove
From left to right: Than White, Dave McMunn, Calvin Jones and TJ Grove. The flag is the has been at the MTB World's Shopsince 9/11/2001.

Wednesday 02 Sep 2009

World champions will be named today in XC Junior Women and U23 Women. It is a long day for us because in the afternoon is 4X practice. We begin by setting up the team tent.

 


TJ Grove raises Ol' Glory at the USA Team Tent, which allows all US riders to easy locate us and the help they may need

MTB racing allows the use of technical pits. The riders may get any technical problems fixed in these designated zones. Mechanics are an important part of this, and we do the work if there is an issue.


The Austrian rider has flatted and is running for the technical pits for a wheel change. Notice behind her is the sag moto.


Two chain are pre-cut to size and ready to go if necessary. The PFP-4 pump allows us to take a flatted tire from a wheel change and fix it as a spare.

Cycling shoes are part of the drive train, they are not a fashion statement. We check the cleat bolts, like we check crank bolts, chainring bolts, pedals and all fasteneres.


It is necessary to dig out the bolt socket with dental picks before you can fit a wrench

There was more DH practice, and we were busy with flats all day. However, there is time for detail work.


Than White applies a sticker to cover the Saint crank. This will help protect it from the bike shuttle, but it really is to add some bling.


Trials Manager Michael Fridell works on a brake bleed with the intensity of a surgeon

Tuesday 01 Sep 2009

Today we pack up the DH bikes and we are off again to the venue. But today is also my favorite event, the Team Relay. I love the team events like this one, because the USA will pit its best team of four riders against the rest of the world. Each team must be comprised of a Junior, U-23, Elite Woman, and Elite man. The coach decides the order, and this must be submitted to the UCI, and cannot be changed after that. There is much strategy here, and for the USA the order is Heather Irmiger (Elite Women), Russell Finsterwald (Junior Man), Colin Cares (U-23 Men), and batting clean up is Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Elite Men). One rider from each country starts. They do one lap only, and must "hand off" in a zone by touching their team mate. If they do not touch, or touch outside the zone, it is an automatic DQ.


A hand-off in the Team Relay. They must make contact before the next rider can start.


Heather Irmiger (Elite Women XC) and Russell Finsterwald (Junior Men XC) cool down after their legs of the Team Relay. The 8A on Ms Irmiger's plate means we are team #8, and she was the first rider. Mr. Finsterwald was 8B.

During the Team Relay, a rider come riding into the transition area pedaling only the left leg. The right pedal had fallen out and he was actually carrying it. The thread were completely pulled out. Some people might think it was the vibration, or bad luck, or possibly the alignment of the stars that caused this, but my money is on the pedal having been installed without proper torque.


There are no threads remaining in the crank

There is beauty here, and danger. You find on the course a low growing vine that has some sharp thorns, easily capable of puncturing a tire.


By the pricking of my tire, something wicked this way comes

There are many companies here providing support. Shimano is here and begins their work like the rest of us, setting up and getting organized.


A little floor work

Downhill involves a lot of technology, a lot of preparation, a lot of knowledge, and a lot of luck. Sometimes things are just not good enough, or perhaps it is that this gives the rider something to do, and modifications are made. Trimming and modifying the block knobs is an excellent way to spend some time.


Geoffrey Ulmer gives his tire a serious haircut

There is no ski area chairlift here. To get to the top, rides place their bikes on a flat bed trailer. Each bike is worth thousands of dollars, engineered with the greatest of care, the place on a chuck on steel welded to a flat bed trailer and held by a dead inner tube. Beside the huge scratches on the left arms, hey, it works.

shuttle
Getting ready for another run

Monday 31 Aug 2009

The XC course opens today, and we will cover the venue and the hotel. XC athletes check out the course, and Trials riders are, as usual, finding obscure obstacles to conqueur. It is also an important day for Gravity Downhill riders, but not on the bike. Today they are allowed to walk the course and will discuss tactics with Gravity Manager Jimmy Deaton.

 

The important and tedious work of systems checks continues. We inspect the shifting of each bike, following the basics of gear adjustment. We push the knuckle of the derailleur pivot to see how it will react under stress. The chain move to the largest cog, but not go beyond that point.


The chain is up and over the largest cog. The likely outcome of such an event is a cage catching the spokes, a ruined derailleur, a bent hanger, and tears...at least by me!.

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and the one below says much more to me, although I think I have easily 1,000 in the pdf referenced here. A pre-race handbook was sent to each athlete containing what spare equipment to bring. Additionally, an Elite Event Checklist was emailed to each athlete for their particular discipline: Gravity, XC, and Trials. One key part is a spare derailleur hanger. This elite athlete arrived with two (2) bikes each with bent hangers and zero (0) spare hangers. We will work what magic that we can, but it helps you (the athlete) to at least meet your mechanics part way.


We successively re-bent this hanger back to good alignment using the mighty DAG-2 Derailleur Alignment Gauge. Fortunately, our good friends at Wheels Manufacturing also rushed over the part. Lesson to new mechanics...be nice to everyone in the industry, and they will be nice to you.

The official start of the World Championships is the opening ceremonies. Countries march behind their respective flags to the adoring cheers of the crowd.


The march band of the opening ceremonies

Leaving early for the venue I drive through a light rain, yet the sun is shinning, resulting is a display of a full rainbow. Could the be a sign of gold metals and rainbow jersey's to come?


A full rainbow landing right on the Stromlo Forest Park, site of this year's Worlds

The downhill course is closed to riding, but the riders will walk it to see the best lines toke. I go with them and often wonder how can they possibly get through some of this stuff.


Our DH riders inspect the rocks and drops that will provide tomorrow's fun

Sunday 30 Aug 2009

The team keeps building, as another wave arrives from America. Our medical staff, Dr. Glenn Kotz, Karen Eberhardt, plus Gravity Manager James Deaton, flew over with the Junior Men XC, U-23 Men, Gravity, and Trials.

We have many recent friends here, and it has really made a difference. The people of Onyabike Shop have provides us many favors, including a loan of a spare gazebo.

 


Brendon of Onya Bike, who provides the brawn, brains, and dreadlocks, appreciates the
SD-2 Screwdriver.

Traveling heavy is expensive, and the Park Tool distributor, Repco, has loaned us some trainers. The staff of Lonsdale Bikes held these for us. The capital city of Canberra is lucky to have such professional stores.


Lonsdale Cyclery in downtown Canberra

By arriving early we can add some touches that make a difference. A carpet store refers us to a client who is installing new carpet, and is disposing of the old. Most exciting. Why? Is it the teal blue color, which will add a nice subtle contrast to the richer darker Park Tool Blue, yet not fight it? Well that is true, but we place rugs under our repair stands at the race venue. When that we drop the little M3 setscrew, it will not land in grass but on the lovely scrap of carpet and not the grass, lost forever.


When cutting carpet, cut from the backside, using a good knife such as the UK-1

Each year I learn new things at these events, and I am always surprised by what's out there. This year it is one of the smallest bike boxes I have seen. The rear suspension linkage is pulled off and packed tightly inside a tiny container.


Zach MacDonald, Junior XC rider, and a budding industrial designer by my reckoning


The chassis of this racing-machine-in-a-box. Note the swiveling front wheels with negative rake, just like at the grocery store.


We see that Zach MacDonald's system has some drawbacks. There is a lot of assembly required as everything, I mean everything, was pulled off to get it into that small box.

Saturday 29 Aug 2009

More athletes and staff arrive, along with Than White, making the USA Team Shop complete. It is now beginning to feel like a bike race. Bikes are assembled and then they go for a spin.

We received an email that very much impressed me. Colin Cares, U-23 XC. His email began, "Hi Calvin, I went for a ride yesterday evening and completely blew out my fork." This occurs just before he must depart, but he is bringing a spare fork. What courtesy, and what professionalism, to give us a heads up. We are ready for Mr Cares' arrival Sunday, after all....no worries mate!


Riders begin the assembly of their race machicnes.


Than White repairs a bit of shipping damage, which points out a good tip. Pull your rotors when packing your bike.


Kathy Pruitt (Downhill) assembles her Jamis. It needed some assistance with the headset (bearings seizing), shifting (new cable/housing), and a fork column trimmed.

 


Just arrived for a Worlds Championships? Check out your bike so it arrives race ready? This bike was not, the housing has seen better day, and need replacement.

Friday 28 Aug 2009

TJ Grove, Bernard Condevau, the team therapist, and myself are arrive early to make the way easy for the team. We are met by Dave MacMunn, and the work of building our shop begins. Coach Marc Gullickson arrives today with the Relay Team and bike building is a priority.


Therapist Bernard Codevaux insists our first stop in the Canberra airport is Velocity, which we will read as Velo City!


Elite level race mechanic TJ Grove brings his years of extensive experience to bear on fixing the old hotel tables.

The real important work began months ago, and we are ready to roll. What is to be done? Develop daily schedules, time lines, equipment checklist, tool checklists, and checklist for rider bike preparation.  Also arrange for security, tents, heaters, lighting, scrap rugs to work over and catch that stupid screw I just dropped. Then contact and develop relationships with hotel and local bicycle shop owners, because it's all about making friends...friends they didn't even know they had...us!

The USA Team looks to have 41 riders. But to a mechanic's mind, this means of course there will be over 100 wheels, and about 3200 spokes, not to mention nearly 2,214 inches of chain. The USA Team mechanics have worked these intense events out of garages, basements, dank dark pit, and closed down bars, but this year we are in for a special treat. This year we will work out of shipping containers! This kind of excitement keeps mechanics going.

The 2009 USA MTB World's Team. Click the image for a high res image.

2009 USA Cycling Team

The USA MTB World Championship Team for 2009:

Elite Women's Cross Country
Willow Koerber (Asheville, N.C.)
Mary McConneloug (Chilmark, Mass.)
Heather Irmiger (Boulder, Colo.)
Georgia Gould (Fort Collins, Colo.)
Katie Compton (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Judy Freeman (Boulder, Colo.)

Elite Men's Cross Country
Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, Colo.)
Adam Craig (Bend, Ore.)
Todd Wells (Durango, Colo.)
Michael Broderick (Chilmark, Mass.)
Carl Decker (Bend, Ore.)

U23 Women's Cross Country
Amy Dombrowski (Boulder, Colo.)
Chloe Forsman (Tucson, Ariz.)

U23 Men's Cross Country
Colin Cares (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Rob Squire (Sandy, Utah)
Tad Elliott (Durango, Colo.)

Junior Women Cross Country
Jill Behlen (Boulder, Colo.)
Essence Barton (Thousand Oaks, Calif.)

Junior Men's Cross Country
Russell Finsterwald (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Zach McDonald (Bainbridge Island, Wash.)
Seth Kemp (Campobello, S.C.)
Eric Emsky (Fall City, Wash.)

Elite Women's Downhill
Melissa Buhl (Chandler, Ariz.)
Kathy Pruitt (Santa Cruz, Calif.)

Elite Men's Downhill
Aaron Gwin (Morongo Valley, Calif./Yeti)
Kyle Strait (Riverside, Calif.)
Duncan Riffle (Santa Barbara, Calif.)
Luke Strobel (Renton, Wash.)
Cody Warren (El Cajon, Calif.)
Brian Lopes (Laguna Beach, Calif.)
Joey Schusler (Boulder, Colo.)

Elite Women's 4-Cross
Melissa Buhl (Chandler, Ariz.)
Jill Kintner (Seattle, Wash.)

Elite Men's 4-Cross
Mitch Ropelato (Ogden, Utah)
Mike Haderer (Concord, Calif.)
Blake Carney (Camarillo, Calif.)

Junior Men's Downhill
Mitch Ropelato (Ogden, Utah)
Kevin Aiello (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.)
Luciano Worl (Woodinville, Wash.)
Tom Neer (Arvada, Colo.)
Geoffrey Ulmer (Troy, N.Y.)

Trials
26" Elite Men: Michael Schiavone
20" Elite Men: Ryan Cecil

 

For the 2009 Worlds, the USA Team Mechanics are:

 


Than White hails from North Carolina

TJ Grove
TJ Grove, the legend, the visionary, puts our job description in a nutshell

 


David McMunn gives calm attention to each bike. An Aussie with that incredibly cute accent, he has served the USA Team in 1996 and 1997. Knowing where one put one's tools is key to quick work, and David has this dialed.


Calvin Jones at a toys-for-tots bike build, where I learned how these bike things work.

 


Background:

Here is some background and history of what I do at these events:

In 1990, the UCI held the first ever MTB World Championships in Durango, Colorado. As one of the volunteer mechanics working at the Shimano Multi-Service tent, I saw firsthand that there was no dedicated support for the US Team. Athletes, including the USA riders, such as Steve Tilford, simply stood in a long line at the Shimano tent for as long as it took to get their bikes serviced. Some riders used a trade team mechanic, but there was no US National Team support. My early race work was through the US Cycling Federation (predecessor to USA Cycling), where the emphasis was teamwork in providing race support. I felt that US riders should be treated as a team, with technical support services provided by a dedicated staff of mechanics. After the event, I began discussions regarding technical support with the Director of NORBA.

My vision for Team USA technical support was put into action at the 1994 World Championship in Vail, Colorado. This was the first time there was a staff of mechanics whose primary responsibility was service to the athletes at the USA team hotel. In fact, all USA riders competing at the World's were and are welcome. I called this effort the USA TEAM SHOP, both to emphasize the team aspect, and to model the professionalism of a retail shop. As our reputation grew, we began to see more elite riders and their mechanics, needing service, or needing to borrow tools.

To me, the purpose of race support is to allow the athletes a chance to focus on their competition. To me, the World Championships are a very special event, an event where our athletes, and staff, represent the United States of America. Corporate affiliations dominate the racing life for most of the year, but at a World Championship, these corporate allegiances should come second to loyalty to the other riders on the US Team. It is my goal to have the USA Team Shop model this team attitude and behavior.?

I believe strongly in a team attitude and team approach to athlete support. For one thing, it is simply more fun. Working within a group allows each our special skills to be best utilized. However, even if you consider yourself a "downhill mechanic", when you work in the USA Team Shop you better be ready to serve any athlete, wash the rental cars, or fix the hotel washing machine. Working in a group, in a team approach, raises expectations in ourselves and toward each other. It sharpens your game, as you are taking it to the next level. It allows us to ask for help or a second opinion without fear of getting a damaged ego. Working with one's peers is its own reward.

A typical day at a World Championship begins early, about 0600, by unlocking and stacking the bikes for easy rider access. The trucks will be loaded and packed for the day's training/racing. We keep a mechanic at the Hotel Shop because athletes come and go all day long. At least two mechanics staff the USA Team Tent at the race venue. They will do any quick servicing needed, such as flat tires, but the heavy lifting, such as bottom bracket, fork installation, etc., is done back at the Hotel shop. During the day, the athletes smash things up, as is appropriate, and in the afternoon everyone returns to the hotel, where the work pace picks up as we get the machines ready for another day. Riders are welcome to come and work in the Shop on their bikes, but we attempt to close the Shop to riders at 22:00. Left alone, we can finish work and hopefully begin cabling bikes and locking down by 23:00.

There is of course a certain level of chaos and tension at race events. Having documentation and a service check-in procedure can help maintain a sense of order and calm for everyone. By recording and documenting our service, we are able to review the work at the end of the day. We track our repairs with a simple repair ticket printed on card-stock paper. By using a repair ticket, we know who was the service writer, who worked on the bike, and what was done (or not done) to the bike.

Our work at these events depends largely on correctly diagnosing and recording the athlete's service needs. A very critical skill at these events I feel is technical communication with the riders and with the other mechanics. Each mechanic will be acting as Shop Service Writer at different times. This means we listen to our customers (athletes) and their perceived symptoms. We reflect back their concerns by asking probing questions, and then record this information on the ticket for the work mechanic. The mechanic writing the ticket may or may not be the mechanic that ends up working on that particular bike, so writing the ticket so it is understood by any of us is important.

The classic mistake of any service department is allowing the customer to diagnose the repair without digging deeper. It is important that we review the symptoms with the athlete and then use our own judgment, even if we end up at the same conclusion as the athlete.

Each year, I try to develop a Shop logo. Taking the classic Aussie saying as our motto let's the riders know that under the USA flag are.....no worries.