The action in the pits during a cyclo-cross race, even more so when the course is muddy, can seem like a chaotic ballet at times with mechanics running to wash bikes while racers are coming in to exchange their dirty bike for a clean one. But the ballet can quickly come to a halt at the power washers used to clean the bikes, after all a bike with caked-on mud carries extra weight which can slow down a rider and be the difference between a win and second place finish.
The head of field operations at WD-40 Bike, Brian Dallas and his team will be on site to make sure that access to the power washers does not become a point of contention at the 2013 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships on February 2-3 in Louisville.
“Oh boy.” Dallas laughed when asked about pit etiquette. “I've experienced using power washers in Europe and I've experienced power washers in the US and there is definitely an etiquette and there is a technique.”
Dallas has worked the pits for pro and amateur racers at racers in Europe and the United States for many years. For Louisville 2013, he sees his role as “taking the battle points” out of the pit. “Earlier on at Plzen (Czech Republic), there was an issue with not enough washers, guys were coming in every lap or every half lap and there were not getting their bikes clean in time.”
To ensure a smooth operation in the double-sided pit, the Louisville 2013 course infrastructure includes three permanent full power frost-proof taps on a raised bed with drainage, all connected to a permanent underground water line. The taps will be connected to eight power washers controlled by Dallas and team.
“We'll be manning the washers ourselves, the mechanics won't have to touch the washers, they'll just have to bring us bikes and we'll be cleaning them.” Dallas explained. “There should not be any issues at Elite Worlds with getting bikes clean every half lap if needed.”
Experience comes into play when it comes to quickly washing a bike. “If the mud is not completely cemented onto the frame, you should be able to get a bike clean in 30 seconds, at least get it so that it's 90 percent free of debris. You usually start with the drivetrain, brakes, contact points which would be the saddle and shifters and get most of it off.”
Dallas and team will also be delivering the WD-40 Bike clean/protect/lube experience to the racers at the Masters World Championships; a similar experience that was provided for the four rounds of the Trek US Gran Prix of Cyclocross p/b Greenware® and WD-40 Bike.
“We partnered with USGP to help keep that ship afloat through the season because we didn't want to lose that, it's a big deal for cycling and for cyclocross to keep the series going. Our partnership was to provide a clean, lube and protect experience for amateurs because the pro riders have their own support mechanism.” Dallas explained. It was also a great way to showcase the newly-launched company and its six bike-specific products.
“Depending on the venue, depending on the weather, depending on the conditions and so forth, we would set up a scalable operation, so at a minimum we would have our sprinter van there with tents and four of us working. In Madison it was a light weekend, we probably did about 100, 150 bikes the two days and then, on Saturday in Ft Collins we probably did 200 bikes the first day because the conditions were raining and then we ended up having a very bright sunny day on Sunday so not too much to do. Louisville was the same thing and then it all the easy time that we had the other three events came for naught in Bend, on both days we probably came close to 400 bikes over two days.”
“The way the experience would work is that the bikes would be washed using the cleaning products first and then they would go to two techs inside of the tents that would do a final wipe down, lube the chain, do a check over. So we were basically doing a minor tune-up essentially. And then handing off samples of the products.” Dallas explained. “We probably touched over a 1000 plus people over those four weekends and we're scaling it up a little bit for 2013, we're going to be doing a lot more consumer events.”
Dallas' advice for the Masters racers is simple, be ready for anything. “For Masters that have never been done any Masters race, you have to prepare for anything because in my experience, in my six or seven times in Louisville, the weather changes every day. You've heard about the Michigan people have the lake effect weather, the Ohio River kind of does the same thing.” he laughed. “If you need anything from us, we will be there the whole week.”
For the Masters Cyclo-cross world Championships, the team will be set up outside the pit area at Champions Park starting on Tuesday January 29 until Friday when they will transition to the Eva Bandman Park for the Elite Cyclo-cross World Championships.