Monday, 30 June 2014

A National Champion

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Tour des Fjords

For something different, this time I stuck my Sony Action cam on the roof rack. Enjoy the race through Tour des Fjords, May 2014 with Team Osterhus Ridley.


Friday, 16 May 2014

Not everything to plan

Well as normal the season is going by at an alarming rate, and I'm just starting to catch up with myself. A cycling season usually starts very quickly, and I always try to prepare as much as possible in the off season, but there is only so much you can do there. Then once the season starts everything begins to move very very quick, and when you want it to be still February it is already April. This season didn't all quite go to plan either, and while there was some expected changes there was also some unexpected changes within the team for this season.

So sponsors stayed mostly the same. The race kit had a bit more black added and there was some slight changes with riders this season. There was a new team in Norway from Bergen, so Filip ended up there as that's where he lives, but I think money also played a roll there. Daniel and Frans were now out while two new riders came in, Magnus and Krister.  So a small team of 10 riders this year with not much room for injuries or illness. Morten was still on as manager with Arna as second DS, me as mechanic and the two Belgians Dominiek and Pippo as soigneurs. This was the plan at the end of season 2013. Come the new year and there was some set backs to say the least. For me to get a good start I rely largely on the arrival of equipment on time which must be thought of months beforehand, for me that's what matters most. But other issues were surfacing. The team had all it's usual sponsors but there was a close look at the budget and some things needed a reshuffle. Unknown to me, there was quite some discussions during the winter, and the result was Morten decided to step away from the team, it was his choice but I think he had no other choice. He put himself before the team. The 2014 season just got a whole lot more interesting. Then after the first camp neo rider from last season, Nicholas, decided to stop cycling, so now it was only 9 riders. One less bike to build. Then another set back for the team was Pippo ended up in hospital which would see him miss out the second training camp and the first part of the season under doctors orders. He also does races with the federation and at this stage is just working there as the work load is probably less.

The plan was I would get a new truck, well not a brand new truck but different to the old one. Back in November I went to look at one we were interested in, to see if it was what suited the team. It was all ok and the ball was soon rolling, but this didn't happen without some delays of course. The idea was I would collect the truck mid January. Some work in it needed to be done so this was planned for. Then I would travel to Norway to build bikes and put together materials before travelling down to the second training camp in Spain mid February. Morten and I had a good schedule in place that would see a good start to the season and would be the best for the riders regarding their new bikes. So the teams plan was to purchase the truck from Belgium, and as transferring registration to Norway is apparently very expensive it was agreed to be put in the name of Dominiek. At the end of 2013 this was the agreement. Then in January when the news came of Morten, this agreement had quickly changed. As Morten would step away, Dominiek decided he didn't want the truck in his name, he didn't want the responsibility if Morten was not around, fair enough I say as it might be more than it's worth dealing with. So all the registration paperwork had do be all done again, and in Belgium things don't exactly get done asap. So the truck had to be put back in the name of the owner and luckily an agreement was made for the team to just rent it for the season. So after all this happened it was already the end of January and me going to the February camp was now out the window.

Morten was still involved with much of the planning and would be until the racing started. He played the waiting game that if the truck was ready in time I could go to Norway, throw everything in and just maybe make it to Spain for the camp, but that time came and went. In the end, time was running out and I had to get to Norway to start building bikes. So I flew to Stavanger and in 4 days I organized all my materials and built 11 bikes. Then I flew to Belgium to go collect the truck as the new registration plates finally had arrived. Then I was home for one day before driving up to Norway to prepare the rest of the equipment. It was actually lucky for the delay on the truck as there was also a delay with some equipment, so going to Norway to prepare before February was not possible anyway. Frames and build kits from Ridley and 4ZA were in but the Campagnolo (this year we use Chorus) was slightly delayed and there was no delivery of tyres. We changed to Mavic wheels this season and they were also in, but spare wheels had not being considered, luckily there was 7 pair of Aksium sitting in stock I could take. Once I have all the stock it is then to check that everything I order (which I do in October) in all the apropiate sizes has being delivered. Otherwise you don't have correct materials to build the bikes which just creates more work later on. In the end there was some shortage on Campagnolo, I won't go into it but I ended up some items short to build the last couple of bikes, but I had some Record components left over from last season and I had to use my planned reserve stock. So everything was prepared in a short time and I was on my way back home where I just had two days before the teams first race in Holland, so not far for me to travel.
all my materials ready to build bikes.

built bikes hang ready while more
equipment is stored below. To the right
is boxes of Mavic race wheels and spare
frames sit above.

The first race was actually two races over a weekend, then I had a week before the next race which was also two races over a weekend. I was told the truck needed a service, it sits there all winter and then suddenly needs a service, great i thought. The week in between these two weekends of racing was the best chance to service the truck, but I also had to refit the kitchen in the truck so I could install a fridge and make some proper storage as the inside was quite bare, so plenty to do. I managed to get the truck booked late in the week for a quick service, but they ended up not doing anything. It was not good news as the truck needed some major work, which what my concern was because it didn't run quite so well on the trip up to Norway. Turned out it needed some major work on the transmission, a new power steering pump, new exhaust, new wheel bearings and a list of other small parts including the fluids and oils for the regular service. The garage was adiment I get the work done, I surely wasn't about to argue with them so I re-booked it for the following week hoping it would make it to the next race which luckily was also in Holland. But of course here it decided to fail. Although the transmission had been an issue and could stop working at any moment, it was not the reason . The fault was I was given a key with a slight crack in it and this decided to break off inside the ignition barrel. Fortunately it was on the Sunday, last race day. With the transmission about to go it was better to just tow it directly to the garage about 250km which cost me a nice 800 (well not really cost me as the team pay all my expenses). Monday morning the garage was not surprised to see it sitting in their parking lot a day early. I gave them the all clear to do everything on it, I made it clear it must be perfect as I did not want to be stuck on the roadside in France or Spain as our next race was in Portugal. The garage loaned me a van to get the bikes home so I could service them. I then drove over to Belgium to pick up a spare key from the owner in case of another broken key, but this key was also no good. I eventually had the garage make 3 new keys.

the team truck, or van really.

The truck was not the only drama. Before the season started the Skoda dealer in Norway was closing it's doors, so that meant no more team car. Just another thing that had to be quickly arranged, but we had one available from Ă˜ster Hus. It was one we often used as our 3rd team car when needed. But then in Portugal that too was put off the road after it was T-boned at an intersection, again luckily on the last day of the race and no one was injured. Good news was the truck went to Portugal and back with no problems, drove like new. For the next race in France though we had to take a rental car as race car which required to just change over the roof rack for the bikes. On the subject of roof racks, this season the plan was to just have one car, but it was not practical to transport all the bikes to a race. Normally we had two cars with racks to hold 8 bikes each. This year the team went with one car and a 9 seat mini bus, but transporting the bikes was not really closely looked at. I suggested we have a rack made for the mini bus and a 9bike rack was quickly made just in time for the tour in Potugal. The rack maker was making some for Garmin so we also got one. It just feels like this season the team as had its fair share of bad luck or set backs and it has felt like allot of extra running around, but I would be lying if I said no team suffers the same problems from time to time. Now we have the car back from repairs and is being restickered before Tour of Norway, and we also have now a second car thanks to the teams local VW dealer. Two cars, a mini van and a mechanic van, the way it should be.

But the season is now easing down and there is a little more rhythm. This is the importance of training camps, to get everything in order before the racing part of the season starts. Bikes have to be ready, vehicles ready, your radio equipment checked and a list of other stuff needs to be in order. But this is the world of cycling and anything can happen and put the most perfect plan into turmoil. It is no different with the big teams, their drama's are just much earlier in the season, and it is usually with equipment supplies. Every team suffers some kind of set backs, whether it's equipment or more major issues like sponsors, you deal with it and make the best of what you have in the time you have. With Morten gone there is a little structure missing in the team, there is new management, as I like to call it, and they are learning the structure which of course takes time, but we go on, sometimes making up the plan as we go, get the work done and deal with it, it just makes the season that much harder.

I had planned to post some other stuff but the season start was just too hectic as well as with some other things going on. I will also admit I have being a little pre-occupied with a particular Facebook page wanting rego for bikes, quite a interesting read and quite a debate. I follow it just out of interest. But I will try to get out some more posts. Now I head off to Norway for two weeks, there I have Tour of Norway and then Tour de Fjords, then home for two weeks before back in Norway for another two weeks.

Happy cycling