Manual for Speed was at the Tour of California and talked with various players in the workings of Team Exergy and Team Garmin-Barracuda (now Team Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda) at the end of the long, hot week. We spoke with Team Exergy Chief Mechanic Joshua Geiszler and got his overall thoughts on the week. What folows is in his words.
“This was just the second big stage race I’ve ever worked, after the USA Pro Challenge last year. It was the hardest race that I’ve ever done. It was hard for me, the riders, the staff, everybody.
“Being up early every day and having the pressure of needing all the bikes to work perfectly was tough. Then, after a long morning you sit in a car behind the race not knowing whats always going on. It stressful. Mechanically, lots of flats. There will always be some bike issues no matter how prepared you are, and dealing with that on the road is tough. Then the race ends and you are washing bikes, tweaking things. I work from the time I wake up till the time I go to bed. I skipped a lot of breakfasts, some dinners. Add to that a lot of nerves in the car during the race; I’ll skip lunch sometimes because I can’t eat. I worked about 19 hours a day.
“Every time I start a race, I wonder if I am going to have to get out the car. Once I see a rider’s hand go up, or number called on race radio, “It’s on.” My instincts take over. I grab my wheels and jump out of the car. Sometimes the exchanges are quick, sometimes average. I’ve done them dozens of times and am well-versed. I love that pressure. I know I can handle it, as does everyone on the team. It’s great to be the hero of the day when you save the race for the team.
“Some days you’re on edge, some days you feel great like your pants are just off. Stage 8 I was really relaxed, then race radio called Exergy; Serge had a flat. We got it fixed and I didn’t have to get out of the car, he got going again no problem. I was calm. No anxiety. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes you’re nervous, sometimes you’re not. The last day I wasn’t. Sometimes it feels like the team owns me. But I feel like I need stress and hard work to feel like I’m getting something out of my profession. I like the satisfaction that I get when I know that a job is completed and done well.
“I want other teams to see that our riders are not having mechanicals. We cannot have bike issues at crucial moments during the race. I need to do my part and I want to be the best, I want our bikes to perform the best. I am just as competitive as the riders.
“I don’t think there is necessarily anything I would’ve done differently specifically. Mechanically we did a really good job, but I would like to see some things with the team overall organized better to make my life easier. Knowing where cars are, people knowing where they need to be, that sort of thing. You have a lot of cars and a lot of hotel rooms and a lot of guys all over the place. It’s easier when everyone knows where to be and what to do and when to do it. Especially the mornings. Everyone is spread out with their own agendas; riders are focused on what they need to do individually and sometimes you have people that aren’t on top of things. They need to get kicked in the ass.
“I fixed so many flats, it wasn’t one thing that I did all week to get the job done, just an overall performance. Some guys were saying I work like three mechanics in one. Getting everything done right without botching it, that’s me being a hero. Just doing my job right.”
“Being in the car and hearing Sam and Carlos’ names called for abandoning sucked. I know Sam really wanted to finish the race, Carlos did too. It wasn’t fitness, it was sort of expected (especially with Carlos racing crits all season and not having a lot of mileage), but for Sam he was drilling it for the team, working hard in a break that one day, and that did him in. That was the hardest thing for me, I teared up a little bit. I had shades on though.”