A record I really did not want to try for
Today we raced the first of three races in the First Union Series leading up to the Pro Championships. The First Union Invitational in Lancaster, PA.
The first few laps were uneventful. Each time we passed the feed zone we were treated to cheers from a huge contingent of US Postal employees and fans. The second time through I saw Kenny Labbe schmoozin the other USPS folks and I yelled at him to get Frankie and I food. Next time through Kenny handed me a huge bag of goodies including hot dogs for Frankie, Ice Cream, drinks, chips and other well needed treats. For two more laps Frankie and I munched.
About the 4th or 5th lap Antonio came over the radio and said his bike was shifting like crap and because of that was dropped from the breakaway. A couple of miles before the finish line of that lap I switched him to our spare bike. A generic 56 cm bike. I knew the saddle was wrong but knew I could catch up to him and adjust it on the fly. WRONG!
Just as we were catching back up to him after I put his dead bike on the roof came a call over the radio again. Robbie was having problems. As we rounded turn one we flew past Robbie as Frankie nor I saw him standing there. He broke his chain. As he came running up I pulled the other spare off the roof. Unfortunately I only had a 54 or a 58 because Antonio had the 56. Both of them ode the same size frame. Damm. So I gave him the 54 and pushed him off. I sat out a lap and tried to fix Robbie’s chain on the side of the road. Lucky for me I saw Andy Stone/Shimano and asked him for a chain and I put it on. I was psyched I could fix Robbie’s bike but unfortunately he (and Antonio) both dropped out because of incorrect saddle heights. Frankie said to both of them to pack it in instead of risking injury from the wrong saddle position. I put Robbie’s repaired bike on the roof and got back into the car to try to relax.
Wasn’t gonna happen. Only a couple of miles later George came over the radio. He had bottom bracket problems and it was making a hideous noise. At the same spot (just past the start finish on turn one) I switched him to his spare bike. As I gave him the spare he asked me to please fix it. Even if riders have an exact spare they prefer to ride the bike they started with. Again, Andy Stone was there to rescue me. So I asked him to do me a HUGE favor and try to fix it by replacing the BB. I asked him if he could do it in two laps and he said he’d try. Two laps later it was indeed done with a new BB. I then switched George Back onto his race bike and he was off. I got to give a HUGE thanks to Andy Stone — US Postal’s honorary team mechanic.
Three bike changes not including switching George back to his original bike. The most bike changes I’ve ever done in one day. I can actually count on one hand how many bike changes I’ve done in my life time as a team mechanic. Today’s bike changes was not a record I was trying for.
A note to how in tune our riders are to their bikes. George told me he though his saddle was too low. He though 1 to 2 mm to low (a spoke is about 2 mm thick). Back at the hotel and working on his two bikes Juan re-measured his saddles. Indeed it was too low. By 2 mm. George really knows his bike/position.