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The Chris Davidson diary
Chris Davidson is a former mechanic for Bontrager Racing Service, now in the service of Shimano Multi-Service.
Chris' diary entries will show you what life is like inside the pits and an insight into the mind of a mechanic.
On the road with T-Mobile: Rest and random thoughts
Salt Lake City, UT, June 10, 2004
Hi all, I am back home in SLC and after 14 hours of sleep last night, I am starting to feel normal again. Here are a couple of random items that are still in my mind after all the travel:
1. Bike inspection - In Montreal for the prologue, all the bikes had to pass the UCI inspection. This involves certain dimensions that prevent positions such as the 'Superman' used by Chris Boardman to set the hour record. Most of the time these dimensions were not a problem for the men, but with women racers the rules come into play more often. The most obvious rule is the '5 cm behind the BB rule'. This states that tip of the saddle must fall 5cm behind the BB. It rarely does on TT bike, especially if you are shorter than 5'6". None of the T-Mobile women's bikes fit this dimension, so the UCI mandates a measurement from the front of the knee down to the pedal spindle.
The knee cannot fall in front of the pedal spindle. While the tip of the saddle to BB measurement is relatively fixed, the knee and pedal spindle depends on where you are sitting on the saddle [i.e: move back on the saddle and the knee moves rearward]. The UCI commissaire doing this measurement for this race was Pierre Gagne and it was obvious that he was not interested in failing anyone on this measurement. If the tip of the saddle was less than the required 5cm, then the rider mounted the bike and he measured the knee. If the knee fell in front of the pedal spindle, he told the rider to "sit more correctly". This meant slide back in the saddle till the knee was behind the pedal spindle. Some riders did not catch on until he said "sit more correctly" for the third time. In the end, no bike adjustments were required based on this measurement. It seems that some days everyone wins with the UCI, where other days, there is more rigor for the rules. This day was the former.
2. Jim O'Brien was the mechanic for Webcor for the Philly week and Jim is one of the more experienced guys around. He showed me the most compact tool kit I have ever seen. It contained all the tools you would need for road bikes, including some custom made ones crafted by Jim himself. Here is the incredible part: all the tools fit in a case that was the size of a lunch box. Jim said he can fit this in his personal luggage when he travels, often avoiding the long inspection that standard size tool cases face. Jim, if you are out there and read this, please send some photos in to Cyclingnews, people should see this.
3. T-Mobile has Saab for a sponsor, so we had a Saab 9.3 Aero for a caravan car. One day in Philly, John Lieswyn of Health Net came down to the parking lot for the daily ride and stopped to look at the vehicle. Our director, Mike Engleman, invited him to check out the unlocked car. Turns out that John owns an older Saab and he spend about 20 minutes checking out the newer version. Direct evidence that cycling sponsorship helps sell product.
4. Starbucks - Speaking of sponsorship, if there is one product that has an addictive grasp on the peloton, riders and staff alike, it is Starbucks. Being that the Starbucks in Philly was walking distance from the hotel, I observed some unnamed riders and staff that visited the coffee shop more than three times a day. For real.
5. The most humorous event of the trip - The last day of the stage race in Montreal was a circuit race that started at 6:15pm. Everyone slept in that day and the laundry for the previous day's rainy stage was hanging out riders' windows in hopes it would be dry by the evening. Sure enough one of our riders, Kim Anderson, left her team shorts in her room. Problem was that we realized this at 5:00pm when we were in pretty heavy rush hour traffic on the way to the stage. I credit Kim's amazing sense of humor, as she weathered all the jokes that came her way. When we got to the course, the soigneur and I covered the parking lot asking other teams for some help. Sure enough, the provincial team from Quebec came to the rescue, with some extra gear. Not before the requisite statements that Kim would be required to ride for their team that night.
I have put together some numbers for the trip; here are totals:
Total kilometers driven: 7,000
Up next for me is the NORBA event at Mount Snow, a new venue for me.
Until then, thanks for reading,