A (long) Championship day
Friday was a pretty low key day. Some riders had some media events to attend to but the bulk of the team got to get out of Philly for some riding in not so clustered of an area. Training from downtown Philly is a challenge at best because it takes so long just to get out of town.
So, they did a pleasant ride in a Jersey Suburb on an invitation from a friend of a friend. His name (and bike shop) eludes me but he has known Freddy (our head soigneur) for a long time. Freddy is not at this event but this gentleman knew we were to be here so he invited us to his neck of the woods for a great ride and lunch. For me it was a pleasant change from the hotel buffet so it was not hard to twist my arm to go along. And it’s always nice for the riders when a mechanic goes along. Nothing went wrong but I know being there for the ride is peace of mind for them and that is always good. Especially a couple of days before one of the biggest days of racing in the US. Philly is extremely important day on our schedule as it is for every US team. It’s the US Professional Road championships!!!
Saturday the clouds opened again and it rained almost all day. So, soon after the late afternoon training, Julien, Allen and I went over the equipment once again in the pouring rain. Lucky though as it started to let up soon so we did not have to endure rain for the entire days work. With three mechanics for 9 riders work goes pretty fast. I often feel sorry for some teams with not so big a budget and their mechanic has to go full gas alone. Super long days for those mechanics. I’ve done that a few times but lucky for me not very often.
Today’s race starts early. The race distance of 156 miles or 250k makes for a long day so they start this race at 9:00 AM. Since we have to be at the start area at 8:00 that means we are at the truck getting bikes ready and a quick wash of the team cars at 6:30. That means breakfast at about 6:00 and still worse it requires us to be up at about 5:30. From a mechanics stand point it was an easy day though. No real mechanical problems. Except for one.
Tony had requested some help during the race. For some reason he felt a need to change his saddle position. Not up or down (which would be an easy fix) but he wanted it tilted down differently. I wanted to make absolutely sure he wanted this as it was not going to be easy to change. Not something he could stop for me to do either as the time it would take would make it impossible to chase back on. I’m not a fan of leaning from the car but this had to be done. After only a couple of minutes I got it where he wanted it. I did not tell him at the time but I was semi nervous. I could not afford to drop the seat bolt. That would be worse and require a bike change. Something I preferred to not do. After the race I told him the potential problem in the task and he and I both had a small laugh.
Gearing for such an event like today is such a wacky thing. Riders seem to think in groups. What is so and so using? That is an often asked question by riders. You would think after doing a race as important as this they would remember what they used the last 5 times here in Philly. In Saturdays prep, we mechanics discussed the gears we used last year and decided to do the same this year. We’ll quite a few decided to change the morning of the race. Good thing I tend to over pack the car with spare parts. I had brought extra cog sets and was able to change all gears for the guys who wanted them. And change the cogs on the spare wheels too. After the race one rider came to me and said “Vince, you were correct the first time” He really did not need the change at the last minute.
The race ended about 3:30 or so. We drove back to the hotel and went straight to washing the bikes and then packing them for travel. All of our riders had Sunday evening flights. I think we set a land speed record washing bikes and packing them. All in all we were finished by about 6:30. That was a hard 12 hour day. But it’s Philly. I always enjoy Philly.