When Kiwi Chris O’Connor leaves the World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland, he will take with him 15 pages of notes that he made during the seven-week mechanics course. Despite his eight years’ experience as a mechanic, the last four with New Zealand’s national track and road team, Chris leaves the WCC with new skills, approaches and ideas.
“Coming into this course I thought I would be going over a lot of things I already knew,” he admits. “But it has been good to find a different way to approach things.”
The importance of preparation
In particular, he learned to place more importance on preparation, not only of bikes but also of their components: “You don’t just take something out of a box when you need it. You pull it apart and put it back together again. It is pre-loved by the time it gets ridden. Everything I do will be more high precision now,” he adds.
Chi Hang Jip (Kenny) agrees. “I have learned a lot here, a lot of details,” says the former athlete whose knowledge until now came largely from the Internet. For the last three years, he has been mechanic for Hong Kong’s national team, following them to stage races in the UCI Asia Tour and other competitions on the continent. His task is rendered complicated by the fact that he remains in Hong Kong while the team trains in China.
“I don’t see their bikes regularly so before a race I have a lot of work to do! When I was a rider I fixed my bike myself and it became a hobby.”
Course adapted to the mechanics’ needs
This was the third course of the new mechanics training programme introduced this year at the World Cycling Centre. For WCC Master Mechanic Alex Roussel, the result is positive: “Other courses exist for mechanics, but not where they can work at competitions,” he points out. “But we adapt to the situation and who is on the course. Kenny and Chris already had considerable experience at races so we did more in the workshop.”
The mornings at the WCC were devoted to learning, and in the afternoon the trainee mechanics worked as part of the WCC team. “They participated in everything we were doing and helped us out,” said Alex Roussel, who emphasised that both Chris and Kenny were accomplished mechanics.
The course at the WCC was punctuated by visits to different industry factories. Each of them also spent two days at the service course of Swiss Professional Continental Team IAM Cycling.
Chris O’Connor had more than a week out from the course to accompany the New Zealand team to Manchester for the opening round of the 2013-2013 UCI Track Cycling World Cup. On leaving Aigle, he will travel with the team to the second round in Aguascalientes, Mexico.
As for Kenny, he will return to his national team in Hong Kong with plenty of new ideas, although he has trouble pinpointing the highlight of the course: “It all seems so important,” he says after hesitation.
Mechanics courses in 2014
Three courses for mechanics are scheduled for 2014:
Course 1: February 3 – March 28
Course 2: May 5 – June 27
Course 3: September 1 – October 25
For further information: [email protected]
Photo: (from left) Alex Roussel, Chris O’Connor and Chi Hang Jip (Kenny)