For those unfamiliar, the Rapha Condor team has brought out this bunch of really great blokes:

John Herety (aka Walt) – Manager; Short, bald, funny and has a bit of Alzheimer’s from time to time.

Andy Verrall – Mechanic; The condition of the rider’s bikes is his pride and joy.  Also deathly scared of bridges.

Andy Naylor – Swany, Massage Therapist; jack of all trades and still rides faster than many of the guys in this Sun Tour.

Dominic Briscomb – Swany, Osteopath; and all round smart-ass.

Kristian House (aka the Dude) – GC man, current British National Champ, has a great tan for a Brit.   A bit of a gypsy and always gets the micky taken out of him for his American/British accent.

Darren Lapthorne (aka Lappers):  – GC man, Former Aussie Nat Champ, has ridden me off his wheel many times.  Always in a breakaway and you can bet he’ll hit the bunch with 20km to go and solo to the finish.

Matt Cronshaw –  young Sprinter,  soft spoken young man but “hungry on the bike” as he puts it.  He’s the brunt of all jokes as he’s the youngest and and cold giving to every.

Dean Downing (aka Day-off, The Monk, Deano)-  Fast finishing Crit man,  social butterfly of the team

Simon Richardson (The Student) –  good all-rounder and break away man.  Whines like a schoolgirl on the massage table

Ben Greenwood (Benjie)- Young climber. tough cookie. Playing with injury for past 3 years. Anyone else would have retired.

Tom “Do I look good?” Southam (Lomas [the Cuban])- The Statesman of the team, all-rounder.  Always has a go in every race he starts.

Here’s some of the useful things that I picked up yesterday while getting my hands dirty with Andy the mechanic:

Packing your bike:

Nearly everyone in the race uses soft-shell bags for their bikes.  These guys travel a lot so they know what’s best.  There’s not enough room to store the hardshell cases once they get to their destination plus they weigh a tonne so excess baggage charges start building up.  The most common type of damage done to the bikes in the soft-shell case are bent derailleur hangers and chainrings.  To prevent this they always pack their bikes upside down with the chain on the big chainring:

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Another trick to packing the bike is they use an old hub to put where the wheels would normally go (Rapha happens to use Dura Ace hubs).  This will protect the forks and chainstays from any pressure during travel.

The Bike Wash

Since there’s a water shortage here in Aus the mechanics can’t wash the bikes like they normally do.  Plan B entails going to Safeway and buying $30 of brushes, dishsoap, a couple buckets, sponges and degreaser.  Nothing special really.  First you clean the drivetrain with a stiff brush and degreaser, rise off degreaser with water.  Take the rear wheel off and use the spare hub used for packing to get easy access to the inside of the drivetrain.  Then use one bucket with soap, one bucket as a rinse to clean the rest of the bike using sponges and a soft brush.  It takes about 10 minutes per bike and makes them look brand spanking’ new.

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Front Fork

Bike manufacturers always put this little lip on the front fork to prevent the wheel from coming off too easily.  The first thing I do when I get a new bike is I file off that lip so the front wheel comes out quickly and easily without needing to back-off the skewer.  All the pro mechanics do this to their bikes as well.  When you’ve got a puncture to change quickly in the middle of a race time is precious.  No one wants to be stuck fiddling with skewers.  Open skewer, change wheel, close skewer.

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Skewers

There’s a right way and a wrong way to put on skewers.  Here is the right way.

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Today’s Criterium

Deano was feeling good before the criterium and was gonna have a go.  Not long into the grueling course after a few break-away attempts there was a big split in the field and Lappers made it with the move.  We were watching from the pits expecting for an attack from him with a few laps to go but it never happened.  He ended up somewhere in the top 10 with Jonathan Cantwell winning the stage in a sprint finish of the break-away bunch.

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The chain gang rolling to the crit from the hotel.

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Matt Keenan doing what he does best

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Andy and Dom giving a rub down to each of the riders directly after the race.

Now to help do laundry and wash bikes.  And I thought this was going to be a holiday…

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