Bernard Kocis

New season, new team, lots of challenges.

Bernard KOCIS- Journal
22 Feb 08

2008 has begun. Along with another stellar group of graduates from the Bill Woodul Mechanics Clinic who I hope, have found and will utilize as their first source of information for our profession. Congratulations to those recent graduates. I missed the Clinic this year, sadly, but have thoroughly enjoyed previous Clinics I instructed.

As these graduates will find and the rest of us already hooked to this lifestyle know, teams, riders, sponsors, suppliers, management and staff (including mechanics!) are frantically preparing for the season or are already competing in early season events.

I am in the ‘frantically preparing’ category. Frantic because product has not arrived in enough quantity (or at all) to prepare bikes, wheels, vehicles, trailer, etc…for proper competition throughout the season.

We had a 10 day Team training camp the end of January near Clemson, South Carolina which was warmly (pun intended) welcomed by my Canadian based Team R.A.C.E. Pro (Race Against Cancer Everywhere). The team is managed by cycling legend, Steve Bauer and his business partner, Joseé Larocque who are also continuing with their original business, Steve Bauer Bike Tours. For details and team roster visit and visit for bike tour info.

Speaking of the Team. One American rider, Dan Timmerman joins an otherwise all-Canadian squad consisting of Mark Walters, Ryan Roth, Dustin MacBurnie, Buck Miller, Andrew Hunt, Mark Pozniak, Mark Batty, Eric Robertson, Adam Thuss, Keir Plaice and Joël Dion-Poitras.
Dan and Mark Walters came from the Kodak/Sierra Nevada team, Joël came from the Eva/Devinci team, Keir came from a local team from Ottawa, the rest of the team made the commitment to Pro racing from the long running amateur Team R.A.C.E.

So, back to the ‘frantic’ part…just prior to leaving for training camp which was only 5 hours drive South from my house, I flew North to Canada (near Niagara Falls) to build 12 road bikes so our riders could train on Team R.A.C.E Pro equipment and not equipment from previous teams. Steve and Joseé pulled off a miracle to get just enough groups, parts, tires and frames just in time so we could present a bike to each rider for Camp. At least that part worked out!

At camp the training rides looked like a gathering of several teams from all the different jerseys in the group until you noticed they all rode matching Argon 18 Gallium frames fitted with Dura Ace groupsets, wheels and PRO components. Tires were still undecided (we are hoping for sponsorship) so the team had to buy tires to make the bikes work. Just one of the challenges of creating a team from scratch! Clothing will come….clothing will come… will come….we keep saying this!

The usual stem and handlebar changes went smoothly and riders coming off of other pedals made the transition to Dura Ace pedals with little difficulty. Most of the guys had been riding DA pedals. Saddles were another smooth transition, only a couple changes.

I had some fun with tires. We bought tubeless tires to compliment the DA tubeless wheels and I put different pressure in their tires every day to gauge rider comments and reactions over that days training (they didn’t know the pressure until the end of the ride). Seems 120psi is too hard and 90psi is too soft…100psi-115psi was favored by all. Big guys and little guys….very interesting and entertaining for me!
Toward the end of camp, most of the guys were happy with their setup and equipment.

{Some clarification- I have a policy of never joking or pranking on or with any bike…ever. I don’t want any rider wondering if something isn’t right with his or her bike.}
The last two days of camp I put a popular latex fluid (to prevent small punctures) in two sets of wheels and told the boys to tell me what was done to their bikes…I was looking for proof that they could or could not detect the small amount of fluid in the tires. No one did.
So I put the fluid in all the tires with hopes of a bit more protection from staples and bits of wire picked up during races.
We then had a just-in-time delivery of training wheels and bought other tires to wrap them so the boys could get off the race wheels which had a good break-in period by then.

Coming from Pro Women’s teams the past few years I had a welcome realization of the difference between men and women and their respective skill set on the bike. This is in no way a slam to women, but for the most part, men have better motor-pacing skills which was welcome during training rides when nature breaks hit one or two riders before the group stopped for one and I would stop the follow car to wait and pace them back to the group. Even testing one rider by pacing him the last few meters up a climb (where he was struggling) then being surprised by him sticking to my bumper through the twisty descent at 40+mph. Good fun on the road!!

Back to tubeless tires for a second…I wondered about punctures at speed and how the tire would react to sudden air loss. (I am a strong proponent of tubulars for racing.)
As luck (mine, not the riders!) would have it, wheels touched and two guys slid down the road. One almost surfed his bike on its side resulting in a sidewall tear and abrupt loss of air. Normal clinchers have a tendency to flop from side to side after puncturing and have been known to drop off the rim and lodge against the frame bringing the bike to a grinding halt…well, thankfully, in this instance, the tubeless stayed firmly on the bead seats which would have allowed the rider to continue riding (which can be important in race situations) even after puncturing…very tubular-like. Seems to be a bit of a safety edge….another interesting realization.

OK so training camp went well, the boys have team issue bikes and we can concentrate on preparing for a month of racing in Europe through March.

More to come as it happens….