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Chris Davidson HP Women's Challenge diary
Bontrager Racing Service mechanic Chris Davidson is looking after tech support for two teams at the HP: Boise squad Goldy's and the Richards team.
HP women's Challenge, USA, June 15-23, 2002
Day zero - the battle of the parking lot
Tomorrow is the start of the HP Women's Challenge in Idaho, so today we at finishing our set-up for the race. Usually the Bontrager Racing Service does neutral race support at domestic pro races in the US. The HP Women's Challenge has its own neutral support program, so Bontrager Racing Service has adopted two teams: Goldy's and Richards. We will provide them with wheels and race support, so this coming week I will be doing team support.
The first job for a team mechanic on getting to the host hotel, is getting the best spot in the parking lot, and then taking up as much space as possible. Good spots need to have access to running water and electricity, be reasonably secure and hopefully have some shade. Rarely do you find a spot that has all of these, even if you get first shot at the parking lot.
Once you've annexed the best possible spot, the next job is to establish your dominance in the parking lot by grabbing as much space as possible. Some team guys use small barricades and pop-up tents, and park their rig sideways to establish a big spot. For the start of the HP, the T Mobile team take the award. They grabbed a big chunk of prime real estate behind the host hotel. With the new T Mobile sponsorship, they look a lot like Team Telekom [get well Ken!] - they're obviously set on being as important in the parking lot too!
Rather than battle the big guys, I found a shop here in Boise that agreed to help me out. I rolled over to George's Cycle and Fitness and got the royal treatment. They let me work inside in the air conditioning and let me park my van right next to a big service entrance. They gave me great help, and I was not getting my head sunburnt in the heat. Definitely better than the battle of the parking lot back at the hotel.
Tons to do as bikes and wheels had to be prepped. Neither of these teams has a team mechanic usually, so there was a range of issues with the bikes. Last night at the team meeting I went over the procedures for mechanical support during the race with half of the riders -- caravan protocol and all that stuff.
The field here is really diverse, the whole planet seems to be represented here. There are conversations going on in the hotel lobby in four or five languages while you wait for the elevator.
The racing looks to be very intense this year, as the organizers have removed some of the longer flat stages of years past, known for the terrible winds, and added more mountain-top finishes. Lots of my girls were asking for the 12-25 cassettes for all the stages.
Lots of meetings a press stuff going on today in the hotel, but away from the glamour, I have to finish applying decals to some of the team loaner vans and prepping the spare bikes. Tonight there's the final team meeting, then I get to apply the race numbers to the bikes, give them a final wash and check thru, then pack the vans for the morning. Weather looks good tomorrow.
I will have some racing reports starting tomorrow as we head for Idaho City and what has been a field sprint finish for the last four years. The climbing starts on Sunday.