Beijing Day 6 – Time Trials

We lost one today on our way to top three…

Bubba Harris crashed just after the first jump on the 3rd straight and busted his ankle. I don’t know the extent of the damage; however, I do know he is currently at the Olympic hospital and is most likely still in surgery now. More below…

I was up late last night running errands for Mike. Namely I was printing out today’s schedule and sliding copies under the doors of our riders. I then stayed up too late watching the Empire of the Sun. Never saw it before, liked it, cried. I think I hit the pillow for sleep around 1:30ish, way too late. To make matters worse today was an earlier day. Thankfully I had woken up a couple minutes before Romero’s call at 6:30am to chat about Jill’s SRM.

The first bus left the hotel at 8am and we again entertained the sensor folks. Mike, Kai and I unloaded my tool box, my gear bag, five bikes, two trainers, two Gatorade coolers and a few other goodies. Kai then left for the hotel to pick up the next group, Mike went about getting our stickers for our radios and I dragged the stuff through the sensors. The guys in orange finally figured out what we were doing and actually lent a hand today.

The bikes were dropped off with another group in the venue to have their timing sensors added. Mike and I then went about setting up camp. The bikes were finished around the time the riders arrived cutting down on my time to set up Jill’s SRM. It was ready to go by the time Jill was ready to ride minus the wheel sensor for speed. (I found it later sitting nicely on top of my television in the hotel room)

Each group today was able to practice a bit in the morning before the time trials began. The Supercross events are run like automobile races where the athletes compete in individual time trials on the course for qualifying and heat placement. The top 16 women progress to the main event and the top 32 men. They are then split into heats of eight where the fastest and the slowest (or 32nd fastest in the case of the men) go in one heat. The second fastest and second slowest go in the next and on and on until you have eight people in each heat.

The women’s time trials were first and we held the top three spots for a long time. That means USA showed on all three lines on the big screen. As more and more riders finished their first time trials our riders dropped down a bit. Everyone was in at this point except for Tara.

The men then hit the staging area with the riders ranked top in the world last. Our riders were rocking including Bubba who was really going big. That’s when things went wrong. He went down after the second jump of the 3rd straight. He tried to save it and crashed. We couldn’t see the crash from our standpoint but did see him roll over to the side of the course. Then he lifted his left leg into the air and we all noticed that there was something wrong with that foot. It appeared that his shoe had partly come off. After staring for a second more we noticed the shoe was still on and that it was his ankle that was twisted oddly. This is when the crowd let out a large oooohhhhhh followed by a silence that allowed us to hear him wailing in pain. (video here:

Mike K. was the closest person from our group having stationed himself just past the finished line. He was there quickly while Berlin, Bubba’s pop, ran down as quick as he could. Once they got him rolling I headed over to the steps to retrieve his bike. As I approached I could see Bubba squeezing the arm of one of the people who were carrying him on the backboard. He was squeezing hard.

Mike and Berlin followed the stretcher. I took the bike back to the compound. A couple trips to the med center followed, with the help of Stacy, to pick up gear like his helmet and shoes. Luckily I was not there when the shoe was removed. I can only imagine how much that had to hurt.

Mike then asked me to stand outside the med center to keep our riders away so they could stay focused. We still had a few riders to run their first time trials followed by the second runs. A few minutes later Bubba was wheeled away with our tranlator, his father and others in tow. This allowed me to go back to working on bikes and playing water bottle boy. I spent most of the day making sure the riders had liquid to drink allowing Mike to spend time watching the riders on the track.

After the first runs we had the top two times and a few riders in the running. We also had a couple that were close but just outside the number of spots. The second runs for the women ended with Arielle holding the third fastest time with Amanda, Kim and Jill progressing as well. We had one rider not participate and another, Tara, arrive this morning in time to practice and hit her runs. She just arrived from a mountain bike event and was still transitioning from the larger bike size. This had to play a factor in her timing.

Some of the men’s field decided to roll their second runs as they already had top qualifying times. A few of them entertained the crowd with fancy jumping and various tricks. Once the men were done we had the top three fastest times and eight guys qualifying for the heats. This meant that Mike and three riders would have to stay behind for the press conference while the remainder of us returned to the hotel.

On the way to the bus I was accosted by the folks in orange at the sensor. They saw me coming and asked if they could get a picture with the American Team guy. I stood there for a while as nine guys wanted their photos taken and then a group shot. Greg thought it was funny and took some photos as well. I’ll try to get a copy of at least one. I thought maybe they mistook me for an athlete. Kai said they wanted a picture with the “super strong guy” from America, the guy who can carry heavy boxes over long distances. Yep, guess I made my mark there.

Once back at the hotel I hit the shower, headed to dinner and again went about printing tomorrow’s schedule and sliding them under doors before sitting down to write this.

Another busy day for me so not too many quality photos. I was able to take some shots of the staging area and some early morning training shots. The shots of the guys show them in the air on the last jump of straight two, jumping over the women’s second turn. As to services:
4 gear changes
2 flat tires
3 cleats replaced
2 pedals replaced
SRM computer installed
7 wheel alignments
unknown amount of stem alignments
seventy bottles prepped
eight tools loaned out.

Yep, the other mechanics are learning that I am the go to guy for fancy tools. The Italians came to me as did the Swiss, the Brits and some other country. I even loaned tools to the mechanic working for the current women’s World Champion. (The men’s is onour team) Though I came better equipped than most I was still missing a tool. I wasn’t able to change Tara’s rear gear as I needed a larger spanner than I have ever used. I will have one for next time

chinese riders staging area inside staging area riders on multiple jumps more guys in the air checking her time buff dudes spinning World Champ bike n my tools Arielle satisfied Waiting for our bus our gear at the curb

Bubba Update as of 9:45 pm – minor fracture, major dislocation of the ankle. They reset his ankle and are not performing surgery at this time. The bad news: his Olympic dreams are dashed, at least for ’08.


Owner of and long time professional race mechanic.