2011 Mountain Bike World Championship
The best MTB riders in the country will gather as part of the USA Cycling Team and compete in the 2011 MTB World Championships, in Chambery Switzerland. These events take a lot of work and a lot of preparation. Information will be posted here as I am able. The most recent report will appear at the top of the page and older reports will descend the page, falling back through time.
We are staying right on the XC course, in fact on the climb, at the Hotel Grand-Paradis. It is great place to host a team like our and our hosts, Paul and Rhonda, could not be more accommodating. If you are here, look for the big blue, of course, shipping containers. Here there be giants, well, at least my fellow mechanic Than White.
The USA Gravity Team, but we are missing some riders. These are the ones at the Hotel Paradis. Click the image and download a hi-res image.
Monday Sept. 5:
I got nothin', and am completely fatigued. We packed the equipment Sunday night in the rain, and leave the hotel at 04:30 for Geneva. Sad to see it end, glad to see it end, and excited for more. Wait, I do have something, a pic and a story.
The mechanic's icon and place holder, drying in the Swiss sun.
This tells two stories. First, the little figure is made from mud from Austin's DH Trek. During these times, it is difficult to even leave the workshop. We would need to pack away all equipment, compressor, tools and bikes, and then again work to just re-open. Sometimes we need to be catered to, we are needy, we need food brought here.
The normal dining here is wonderful and in the relaxed European mode.. You sit down, have some water, then comes the hot soup, which must cool to eat. Then you are suppose to chat among friends while you wait and the main course, which is again hot and wonderful. Total result? At least an hour of work daylight lost. Add a dinner again, and you will be working in the dark and cold. So, my idea is to leave an icon for the mechanics at the table. Put the food out and let it cool. Then we come one at a time to replace the icon and eat.
The second story is related and is about team work, pulling through for your teammates. The cranberry bread is from Karen Eberhart, who knew we would need some calories down in the shop. It is kind of like me father says about cars. "To run, you need two things, fuel and fire." Oh, we have plenty of fire for this job, but she know we needed the fuel, then we'll get the job done.
Sunday Sept. 4:
DH finals are today. You get an odd sense of time here during the week. It seems to go very quickly as we have settled into our new little home. However, by week's end we are completely spent. This is not normal work for the racing circuit, because at a World Championship you take to the next level...or two.
DH rider Trevor Trinkino (Evergreen, CO) will not be racing on Sunday. Sleep is said to be a wonderful medicine, and this is true for Trevor.
The medical team for the USA Team is fantastic. Dr. Glen Kotz and nurse Karen Eberhart have been hopping this week. Karen was a Vietnam War nurse and her professionalism is wonderful to watch. Like many of the staff here, our medical team volunteers their time for this race. To give you an idea of how tough this course is on the teams here, there are no more crutches to be found in the area.
Kiran MacKinnon (Aromas, CA) gets a little patch work by team nurse Karen Eberhart
Dr. Kotz is dressed to be easily found during the race. He patches up not only riders, but also mechanics, especially those who have been duking it out with disc rotors, such as this Syndicate mechanic.
I actually get to see very little of the racing here, but there is good live coverage. After the DH work is done at the Hotel Paradis, I ride down to the Hotel Palladium to confer with my fellow USA Team Mechanics. There is live coverage of the race, and it included a few services at the technical and feed pits. We are both impressed with the influx of the tubular tires in the field.
Chip Howat and I watch some of the race. This was a service of a rider with a thru axle rear hub, on a XC bike, which certainly slowed down this wheel change.
The USA Team Technical pit for the XC racing. TJ Grove, Julia, Bernard and Michel.
Before dropping down to the Hotel Palladium and the XC shop, I am able to see the start of the Elite Men's race, captured here on Go Pro video:
I am very proud of what the mechanics of the USA Team bring to this race. We go well beyond the turning of wrenches (including knowing which way to turn). We try hard to bring a sense of organization and calm, of being there and being reliable. To emphasize this aspect of our work, I have have modified the 2011 UCI World Championships logo for the mechanics. In the vernacular of the older residents here, it says (unless my Latin scholars are wrong), something to the effect of: "We are the adults here".
Our shop logo to remind us of our mission
Let's see what a day is like here. We begin at o'dark-thirty, or no later than 0600; hope you brought a jacket. First thing is to open up the shop. We make sure the bikes are safe, and park a van in front of any doors.
Begin by moving the team rental and opening up the doors. You remembered to get the keys last night, yes? Oh, and be quiet about it. It is dark, so bring your headlight.
The earth is still rotating, and we will eventually spin around to face the sun, but we cannot wait for that. The compressor must be moved out, the tables set up, the parts re-arranged, and tools put back where they belong.
One of the riders gave me that big yellow sign, but I'm not sure why
The new guy un-cables the bikes, so get to it. I will go get us some coffee. This year the Grand-Paradis let me work the espresso machine, giving me a second job skill.
I love watching the two-funnelled coffee handles at work
Security is very important to us, and we always assume that we are a target for thieves. There have been times we have slept in the bike room. My go-to locking system for the machines under my watch is Kryptonite.
Big Green Kryptonite keeps the Gravity machines safe and warm all night long
Now comes the part I really enjoy. Some quiet time with the machines before the riders arrive. I double check my work, and I'll will also double check your work. You do the same for me. Bikes aligned and looking good, things clean and tidy. You only get a little of this paradise, so enjoy it.
The bikes aligned on the ES-1, work stands hungry for work, tables ready to give support, this is the best part of the day.
Logan Bengelli rides a nice looking KHS that looks great when clean
I know Logan's bike is under there somewhere, and it is my job to get in there and drag it out
Earlier in the week, we also had some rain, but overall the rain has not been so bad here. The video here will layout a basic de-mudding of the DH machine.
Saturday Sept. 3:
We are hoping for a very quiet day, as yesterday was quite hard. We lost some riders to injuries in the DH Timed Run, and the practice before hand, and in the XC one of our men separated his shoulder. The day kept going as we worked the 4X Finals. There Melissa Buhl (Chandler, AZ) was fourth, and Neven Steinmetz (Boulder, CO) was sixth. I stationed myself at the bottom of the run for service needs. Than White was joined by TJ Grove at the top to run two trainers and provide more service. In the finals night, it is the top that is more critical. If you mess around at the bottom, and miss the shuttle for the next run, too bad for you. Better to get up to the top and deal with it there.
The Czech team seems to have a new technique to remove the rear hub, but I did not cover this procedure in the BBB-2 Big Blue Book of Bike Repair
This is hard work, especially at Worlds, and it is nice now and then to have a beer. Readers may recall my favorite brand from previous articles. But in my shop, with me mechanics, you will not see any drinking. The riders need to trust us that we are 100% during our work time. Work yesterday, begin opening shop at 0600, and closing up after 4X at 2300. The rest of the time is yours.
Mechanics: do we really want the athletes who risk it all on the course to see us doing this?
There can be some intense mechanical work. The Finals night of the 4X witnessed a dramatic blow out of a Czech rider right at the finish line. He needed a quick repair to get back up for his next race. He picked up his bike are ran to his mechanic waiting at the bottom of the course. They attempted the repair, but it failed and they left together to continue the work at the top.
TJ Grove and Than White at the top of the 4X start. This is where the Czech rider and mechanic were headed. If you are late for your start....too bad for you.
The U23 cross country race was on Friday. It is a fast start that turns on to a paved road for a climb. The group was all together and it felt more like a road race going by. Then, a noise and a fall as seen here:
Friday Sept. 2:
Today is our very busy day. XC has U23 Men. We have practice (i.e. 90 minutes to smash things and collect mud), a full-on Timed Run in the afternoon, and 4X practice and Finals tonight. We feel very important, but we are only part of a team. Supporting the riders we have a medical staff of two, two therapists, coaches and managers. Everyone's days start early and you go hard till the work's done.
I am headed to the top of the DH mountain. There is a Timed Run today. It is not a seeding run, but a full race protocol to allow everyone, including the promoter, to check their race mode.
The Swiss Army seems to be everywhere, but as it is mandatory it should not be surprising. Here they help load bikes on the chair. The USA bike is our spin bike. It is used to warm up before their start.
USA Cycling Team mechanics consider ourselves a team, sharing knowledge, skill and sweat. It is busy for us, but XC has a few races done. We borrow Chip Howat from the XC side.
Chip transfers spokes from a smashed rim to a new one...with the same ERD, or so we are told
We have had our share of injuries, but a walking stick made of handlebars and grips helps Nate Furbee (Los Osos, CA) get along
Joanna Petterson (Jericho, Vt.) shows her colors in a great start
A Naugahide mud flap on a DH bike. These protect not the bike nor clothing, but help shield the rider from mud to the eyes.
Austin Hackett Klaube (Dillon, CO) is one of our Junior DH riders and this morning is ready to rumble
This stuff doesn't look too hard, I think maybe I'll give it a try
4X is a shorter event, and the bikes are lighter compared to Downhill racing bikes. But they are not made for going up to the start, so the race promoter provides transportation. This snow cat hauls the bikes in front and the riders in back. It makes for an interesting ride.
Our lovely work and care is just thrown into the bucket of this snow cat to be run up the mountain
We try to keep our spare equipment up to date, and this year we have a spare 20mm thru hub wheel for Gravity. However, the newer Shimano rotors have a smaller inside hole compared to the 6 bolt patterns. The left cap does not fit these rotors, but we really need this spare. Solution? Some machining on the spot.
Thursday Sept. 1:
The XC racing yesterday was not so good for the USA. In the Junior Women's race Grace Alexander (Boise, ID), crashed hard and was DNF. The Team Relay had a hard time, with Stephen Entinger crashing.
The Gravity work intensifies. The mechanic for Transition bikes comes by with a problem. He needs an older style 12mm thru axle drilled and tapped for an M5 thread. He has a hand drill, and I have my bits and taps. The PRS-25 holds things steady, and it works like a dream.
Jason from Team Transition holds the axle to keep it from rotating while I tap using the Park Tool TAP-8
The DH training ends at 12:30, but some of the athletes then walk the course to again plan their lines. As for me, I am still sore from the walk two days ago.
It is as steep as it looks. What line would you take?
We are now in the thick of things, and we cannot break for dinner, yet we need fuel to keep this pace. The ambiance and company could not be better.
If I could award the title of Most Important Tool of the 2011 Worlds, it would be the HMR-4. Than White uses the steel side and means business with every crushing blow as he drives a bushing out.
The village of Champery is in a lovely village, in a classic Swiss valley. It is narrow with tall stunning mountains everywhere. To the mechanics, that means it get light later and dark early. We do not have a huge truck like the pro teams use, but our blue shipping containers are lit by work lights. You sometimes attract interesting insects this way as well.
The brake bleeding must go on and the dark cannot stop Than Light, I mean White
Wednesday Aug. 31:
More practice today for DH, and tonight for 4X, with a chance for rain. Today will also see the XC racing for Junior Women and the Team Relay, one of my favorite races. This year, the XC team and the Gravity teams (DH and 4X) are divided, split between two hotels. This makes it very difficult for the mechanics. We need two compressors, two washers, two sets of parts. We will share the Team tent, and two sets of mechanics will help one another. Still, somehow the XC hotel ended up with a gym, two swimming pools, and a hockey rink.
Things are looking quite comfortable at the XC digs at the Hotel Palladium
Chip Howat adjusting a Felt in the lovely Hotel Palladium, a complete shop with large screen TV
However, if you to know where the real fun is, it is at the Hotel Grand-Paradis, upstream at the race venue.
You are known by the company you keep. I would not be anywhere else right now than dining out with Santa Cruz and Than White.
The venue is full of activity as everything is fully set up and running. The different countries and trade teams care for their members, fix bikes, and keep an eye on one another.
Felt Bikes is here sporting lots of blue. The ES-1 keeps them organized and looking good.
Team Canada is looking like, like, well, I am just not finding the words. They do like the PRS-21 and the EK-1. We should probably can assume they brought their own good Canadian pine for the CES-1, the Canadian Event Stand.
A sunny day in the Alps, so naturally a great day to wash the bikes. This is a power wash, and you must be careful not to blast bearings and joints on the bike.
There are many new bottom bracket standards now, and some seem to be a work in progress. We have a bike with a PF30 shell that uses a pressed cup. However these cups are threaded internally to accept the traditional 1.37" x 24tpi bottom bracket bearings used on external bearing bottom brackets. The right cup is creeping out. These are basically a sideways headset, and the fix here is some wicking Loctite, followed by some raps with the plastic mallet to encourage wicking, then a push back in with the headset press.
What's a hammer for? I'll show you what's a hammer for. It's for fixing DH bikes, but used only oh so correctly. Remember to use the plastic side, and choke up.
Tuesday Aug. 30:
First day of practice for XC, DH and Trials. The DH riders are pumped and excited.
Two of our Junior DH team are looking clean and fresh...before the first run that is…
The fun part, and kind of scary at the same time, is when you settle in and it begins to feel like home. We are still setting up house. I am spoiled working here, as the Chief of Team Ken Whelpdale insisted on two brand new blue shipping containers just for me. Okay, maybe there's no light and heat, but the blue was a nice thought. We have an extra pop-up for the rider lounge.
Trial Manager Michael Friddell shows us what's a hammer for in using the HMR-4
Some blue tape is placed along the tire, but why? Clearly, the juniors have been here and are in need of entertainment
From yesterday, a short video presentation on the DH walk:
After many a changed ticket as a result of the Irene, we are getting our riders in town. Some are flying in, and some are driving from the USA Cycling MTB racing base in Germany. The crazy begins, and it is great to be part of it.
Today is the traditional Downhill walking and course inspection. I attend as well to haul water and make sure all our sheep get back home. We take the chair to the top of the mountain, but the start hut is a long hike below. The course is very technical. Many parts are difficult to carefully hike down. The riders stop time to time to inspect the best line and pretend they can control what happens in the ride.
Just part of the DH course. Can you guess what the net is for? If you hit this it will stop you but you will be tangled like a fly in a spider's web.
It is the Alps and it is Switzerland, and the cows are pretty cute. Christian Wright says these are the nicest cows he's seen.
Dropping by for a visit early in the AM for some espresso at the Specialized Team tent. They were eyeing the Universal Team, perhaps they were jealous.
On the left, I am cutting a 20" inner tube for a crude tubeless system. I don't like it, I don't approve of it, but yes, I do it as requested. On the right, traditional Junior fashion statement.
Putting in tire sealant it is easiest and cleanest to pull the valve core. Here is a peek at the new 2012 VC-1 Valve Core remover.
Monday- Aug. 27.
I arrive early, just skating ahead of Hurricane Irene, with some of the other staff to get set up. Our first bike repair is a full suspension "Team Universal", weighing in at perhaps 18 kilograms. Have you heard of this brand? No? We found it in the shed at the hotel, and looks like it started out cheap and then went downhill from there. It is treated it to what we call a "USA Tune Up", which is basically, "get 'er done".
This hotel bike will become very important when we will need to shuttle a mechanic from place to place.
Than White and I are up at the Gravity Hotel, the . The XC crowd is down in town, at a posh hotel, with swimming pool, warm work areas, and a gym. But the real fun will be had up here at the Paradis.
There are different disciplines at the Worlds. USA Cycling is the National Governing body for cycling in the USA, and for the 2011 Championships these are the selected athletes:
Elite Men Cross-Country
Jeremiah Bishop (Harrisonburg, VA.), Michael Broderick (Chilmark, MA), Adam Craig (Bend, OR), Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, CO), Spencer Paxson (Seattle, WA), Sam Schultz (Missoula, MT),Todd Wells (Durango, CO)
Elite Women Cross-Country
Katie Compton (Colorado Springs, CO), Lea Davison (Jericho, VT), Judy Freeman (Brighton, CO), Georgia Gould (Fort Collins, CO), Heather Irmiger (Boulder, CO), Mary McConneloug (Chilmark, MA), Krista Park (Madison, SD)
U23 Men Cross-Country
Stephen Ettinger (Cashmere, WA), Russell Finsterwald (Boulder, CO)
Jack Hinkens (Eden Prairie, MN), Kerry Werner (Banner Elk, NC)
U23 Women Cross-Country
Jill Behlen (Boulder, CO), Kaila Hart (Durango, CO)
Junior Men Cross-Country
Richard Cypress Gorry (Payson, AZ), Howard Grotts (Durango, CO), Keegan Swenson (Park City, UT), Casey Williams (Big Bear City, UT)
Junior Women Cross-Country
Grace Alexander (Boise, ID), Alicia Rose Pastore (Durango, CO)
Elite Men Downhill
Logan Binggeli (Saint George, UT), Aaron Gwin (Temecula, CA), Curtis Keene (Fremont, CA), Duncan Riffle (Santa Barbara, CA), Mitch Ropelato (Ogden, UT), Luke Strobel (Issaquah, WA), Cody Warren (Alpine, CA)
Elite Women Downhill
Jacqueline Harmony (Sedona, AZ), Joanna Petterson (Jericho, Vt.)
Junior Men Downhill
Nate Furbee (Los Osos, CA), Austin Hackett Klaube (Dillon, CO), Kiran MacKinnon (Aromas, CA). Neko Mulally (Reading, PA), Trevor Trinkino (Evergreen, CO), Christian Wright (League City, TX)
Junior Women Downhill
Lauren Daney (Stafford, VA)
Men Four Cross
Blake Carney (Camarillo, CA), Lear Miller (Sedona, AZ), Erik Nelson (Gilbert, AZ)
Women Four Cross
Melissa Buhl (Chandler, AZ), Joanna Petterson (Jericho, VT.)
Neven Steinmetz (Boulder, CO)
Ryder Okumura (Durango, CO)