Race Mechanic Clinic for 2008
Each year USA Cycling hosts the Bill Woodul Mechanics Clinic. Named for a former USA Cycling Equipment Manager and Chief Mechanic, Bill Woodul, the clinic offers training unique in the mechanic's world. There are four days of classes and education in the ways of the racing world, presented by instructors who are experts in their fields. For the class of 2008, we had 55 mechanics in attendance.
Lots and lots of blue in the USA Cycling mechanics shop. What else would you expect? (photo credit-Stephen Marshall)
You want pressure? Smack in your face when you walk in the USA Cycling office is a running clock. When I saw it, it read only 209 days, 6 hours, 43 minutes and 9.0, (yes, 9.0 seconds, not 8.9 or 9.1), to the opening of the 2008 Olympic Games.
I have been teaching these clinics a long time, so long that when I was teaching the first ones of these with Bill Woodul, some of participants this year were not even born. The clinic is held at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The facilities are fantastic and are a huge change from my first days there more than 25 years ago. Originally the facilities were an Air Force base built just after WWII. Now, they are state of the art with a staff dedicated to serving the athletes. The dining hall shines in this aspect, as the food is designed for athletes by nutritionists, and prepared by chefs and a friendly staff.
There were no hungry mechanics at the Olympic Training Center. Many a wrench gained some mass during their stay at the OTC. (photo credit-Stephen Marshall)
Even the restroom area at the dining hall has the Olympic flavor. Of course, being from Minnesota, we are drawn to curling.
We often wonder where those stickers end up. Resident rider, Sam Jurekovic, a U-23 rider, proudly sports one on his coffee press.
Some classes are lectures inside classrooms, and some are outside and hands on. Frame design, tubular adhesion, bicycle positioning, suspension tuning concepts, caravan support, DOT legalities, race equipment management, and support for all types of racing are just some of the topics covered.
A lecture on technical issues such as tubular adhesion are followed by practice, and sticky hands. (photo credit- Mike Woodard)
For road racing, and now also UCI Mountain Bike XC racing, the mechanics service the bike during the event. The emphasis is primarily on wheel changes, but you never know what will be needed. It is better to learn in a controlled environment, rather then in a real race, when a real rider will get real mad if you do a real bad job.
Wheel changes always provided a good time. Tip to new race mechanics: always take a pair of wheels when leaping off the cycle. (photo credit: Ted Gates)
Lucky me, I get to be outside...in the cold, washing with the PRS-21. The soap wasn't freezing, so who's complaining?
The OTC also is host of other sports involved in cycling beside the USA Cycling. The USA Triathlon office is there, as are USA Paralympics, including resident athletes. But to us, a bike is a bike: BMX, Tri, Road, MTB, Downhill, TT, Trials, bring it on and we'll take care of it.
One of our mechanics,Todd Anderson, checks out the bike of a USA Paralympic rider Greta Neimanas.
Like much of life, there is paperwork to be done. Participants must take an exam, which is open book. It is our intent to encourage networking and sharing...which sometime turns into arguing. However, there is merit in that as well.
A late night study group in the cafeteria, debating the exam.
The top mechanics, well, at least on paper, posing with Calvin Jones. Next to the guy in the gray shirt are Brad Cole (winning the PRS-21 for his top score), Jordan Goodman, Tim LeCloux, and Dave Vance, all from Erik's Bike Shop, MN.
Brad Cole, who brought his store's service managers, shared a little about the experience: The 3 day intense format encouraged teamwork and solid team dynamics. The numerous individual presentations were passion driven and gave our staff a renewed since of pride in our skills as professional bicycle mechanics. We are all encouraged to share that passion and commitment with our staff and all levels of athletes we serve daily. Sounds a little corporate, but every individual was charged up and excited to shared the information they obtained. Our roundtable discussion at the airport Sunday yielded 13 different reactions from "the best thing was...", "If I could capture a fragment of their passion" to "it was a once in a lifetime experience".
Fifty-five USA Cycling mechanics ready to serve. (Click for hi-res image).
The class of 2008:
Brady Adams, Todd Anderson, Robert Angle, Chad Balthazor, Ryan Bontrager, Shawn R Carroll, Hector Castillo, Jeffrey Clark, Brad Cole, Leon Chou, Brian Dallas, Zach Edwards, Julie Eisenhardt, Ted Gates, Matt Gaukler, Steve Glass, Jeffrey T. Goelz, Jordan Goodman, John T. Gordon, Pete Hamer, Steven Hammons, Jonathan Harris, Derek Hermon, Travis Johnson, Dave Vance, Dan Kauer, Dylan Kirchner, Mike Kierce, Tim LeCloux, Mark Lee, Erik Maresjo, Stephen Marshall, Andrew McQuade, Ralf Medloff, Richard Meredyk, Nitish Nag, Jonathan Nathanson, Mike Nendza, Dae Oh, Ben Peck, Matt Peterson, Nicklaus Redenius, Austin Roberts, Evan Ruddell, Andy Ruhland, Tyler Russel, Ellen Ruotsala, Chris Tacl, Katsu Tanda, Eric Robert Tittsworth, Jack Turner, Nick Van Driel, Jack Vincent, Ben Warren, Michael Woodard