Last night all but one of our athletes arrived and the remainder of the staff too. We have a full house here at the hotel now. During most of yesterday Juan and I pulled bikes out of the bags and slapped the wheels on and did what ever minor (very minor) things they needed to get them rolling. Today we got up early and had a quick breakfast and, now joined by Julien, the three of us pulled out the few remaining bikes (from riders that came in late) and put them together.
Some things are a little easier than my days on Saturn. Back then riders got new home bikes every year. Now with my Postal team, they get one home bike for their entire term with us. Unless something catastrophic happens to the frame of course. Otherwise it is just a new chain or tape or tires here and there. Tyler who has been with us for the longest (and not has gone on to another team) had a very old home bike. His home bike was red, white and blue. Way old. Kenny Labbe had just been granted a trade up and now has a white bike to replace his old red, white, blue home bike.
Our riders will get new race bikes in Spain in about two weeks. At any given time a rider will have 4 bikes in the rotation including his home bike. Each will have one home bike, one race bike, one spare bike and one time trial bike. Some like Lance will have more. He will usually have one home bike in the US, one home bike in Europe, one race bike, two spare bikes one race time trial bike and a spare time trial bike. So for him that totals seven bikes.
Today was the first time to go over the bikes sort of thoroughly. After washing 21 bikes (between the three of us), we had to take care of a few bikes that needed some real work. Since they all came with home bikes and they knew they were getting race bikes built in Spain, many came with bikes that were hurting to say the least. So, a few parts got overhauled, some new tape, chains and cables on some and the bulk of our work was done for the weekend. Washing the bikes was a must today as tomorrow will be the sponsor ride. Although we cleaned every bike very well, some still looked like they were hurting. That’s OK though. As long as they were (sort of) presentable. I’m off to rest as it was a lot to do. With 21 bikes that’s 7 per mechanic. That’s probably the highest ratio I’ll have all year. At most races the ratio will be 1 mechanic per 3 to 5 riders at most. That is plenty in order for us mechanics to do a good job. More than that on a race day is tough to achieve perfection. For this weekend it is just enough.