Yours truly was called back into the world of race mechanics last weekend to help out Unior-sponsored Team Aevolo Cycling at Utah's Crushar in the Tushar. A pretty low-key weekend, it's still vitally important to make sure the bikes are working perfectly. And without a team truck there, coordination with the team's head mechanic was key to make sure all the right spares were sent along just in case.
About a week and a half ago, on a Sunday night, I was at home on my couch when I got a text from Michael Creed, the director of Aevolo Cycling. Full disclosure, Unior USA is a sponsor of Aevolo. Further, their head mechanic Vince Gee is one of our brand ambassadors. Either way, Vince was going to be occupied the following weekend with a squad racing the Boise Twilight Criterium. Mike had two riders racing the Crusher in the Tushar and asked if I was available to come out to Utah and make sure their bikes were set for 70 miles of gravel racing with 10,000 feet of climbing.
Mike and I go back a little ways. I was the head mechanic at Team Smartstop when he came onboard and helped reinvent the team from a scrappy criterium-focused team into one of the most successful domestic road racing teams of the year. He was familiar with the quality of work I put out and was eager to get the chance to work with me again, as I was with him. A half hour later I had a plane ticket and I started prepping my Pro Kit for some of the unique needs of the team’s Cannondale Super-X gravel bikes. In particular, I wanted to make sure I had my BB30 bearing extractor and a bearing press in case the bikes needed fresh bottom bracket bearings.
The following Friday I flew to Utah to meet Mike and the bikes and after a few hours driving from the SLC airport to our Airbnb in Beaver, UT it was time to get to work assembling the bikes for the next day’s 8:00AM start. Thankfully the bikes were in really good shape to begin with and there really wasn’t much to do. Vince and I had some back and forth over the days leading into the race and he sent a good supply of spare parts just in case, but the only thing I wound up replacing was the bar tape on each of the bikes. I also swapped tires as the race wheels still had the tires the guys used previously at Dirty Kanza.
The Crusher didn’t require nearly as much volume and that they were riding tubeless made for an easy (if not somewhat messy) tire swap. The Crusher specifically forbids follow cars which didn’t leave Mike and I with much to do during the race. But, since the roads weren’t closed to vehicle traffic, we figured we’d be OK to leapfrog the riders and watch them go by a few times and that worked out nicely.
After about 4.5 hours our two riders, Lance Haidet and Gage Hecht, finished in 7th and 8th respectively. Pretty dang good for a couple U-23s in such a hard race! I counted my blessings that I didn’t have to repack the bikes, that is without a doubt my least favorite task as a mechanic.
A nice dinner, some good conversation, a few drinks, and everyone hit the hay to head back to SLC the next morning so the riders could do a sponsor appearance the next day and so I could catch my flight home to be in the office first thing Monday morning.