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Juggling bikes at the world championships

Worlds is the most complicated but most enjoyable race on the calendar for veteran mechanic Kevin Grove.

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Team USA’s on-site service course for the world championships was an Israel Start-Up Nation team truck.

Inside, instead of the normal rows of identical bikes and wheels of the pro team, there was a hodgepodge of mismatched machines and gear, all tidily organized.

Driving this organization and the truck itself was longtime pro mechanic Kevin Grove, who served as Team USA’s lead mechanic as a special assignment away from his primary job handling bikes at Israel Start-Up Nation.

More than two dozen American riders came to Belgium to race the world championship across the junior, under-23, and elite competitions. Most brought their primary bike and a spare bike, plus spare wheels. Almost all of these were their sponsor-provided gear from their normal trade or development teams.

In addition to the not-so-simple act of organizing, cleaning, and maintaining all the bikes, Grove and the other Team USA mechanics had to sort out wheels that work for 11-speed Shimano, 12-speed SRAM, and 12-speed Campagnolo for the follow cars in the races.

“It is a big juggling act,” Grove told VeloNews. “But it is also probably my most enjoyable race on the calendar, as it’s a lot of fun to have dinner with and work with all the different groups of people.”

Grove began working as a team mechanic in the U.S. in 1997, and came to work in Europe starting in 2006. After years with BMC, he is now with Israel Start-Up Nation.

“I was lucky enough for them to give me a truck for the week,” Grove said. “We are basing our men’s and women’s elite out of the truck. For the other categories we have different vans from USA Cycling. But all the washing and the maintenance comes from the big truck.”

Also read: Kevin Grove – Like father, like son

Despite most of the riders coming from different teams, there were some efficiencies.

“We lucky got lucky with with Trek-Segaredo and Movistar both having men’s and women’s team riders here who could swap wheels,” Grove said.

While Grove and the other mechanics do all the service work, they don’t mess with a riders’ preferred set-up.

“For tires and tire pressure, we just stick with whatever everybody has. Everyone has their specific pressures they like to run, so I stick with that,” he said.

Wheels were perhaps the most complicated piece of the puzzle, especially without race radio. For normal races with a pro team, all the riders are on the same set-up, so compatibility isn’t an issue. Not so at worlds.

“Just fitting all the different wheels into the follow car is a challenge,” Grove said. “In past years, we had both rim and disc. This year it’s SRAM 12, Shimano 11, and Campy 12. I have to have at least three different pairs of wheels in the car.”

If a single rider was having a problem, the UCI radio will typically call out the number of the rider involved.

“But if it’s a big crash, I take two pair of wheels and hope for the best,” Grove said.