$100000 + of Equipment Down the Drain

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By now a lot of you have seen a photo of Peter Webber’s cross bike from last Friday at Cylcocross Worlds. If not, here it is.petewebberbikeI was going to rant about this on Saturday, but I thought it might be better to let it sit a few days. I’m not sure that helped.

I was working the pits on Friday for two races. Actually, I should start at the beginning. Thursday morning, 7:45 early, I went to the course and pre-rode the course on my b bike. I went back to the hotel and left my bike with Bill and Trudi to have cleaned. I came back to the course about 9:15, expecting to ride my b bike, only to find that it was still as dirty, actually worse, since it was frozen, as it was when I left it. The power washers weren’t functioning. They’d left them out and the had froze.

Right before the start of my race, they got at least one of them started and up and running. The course was of the condition that it would be impossible to try to ride the same bicycle more than a couple laps. That night, Thursday, after my race, we drove by the course around 10pm. I remember commenting in my van that I’d bet anyone a million dollars that they left the power washers out once again.

Sorry to say, I was right. We didn’t learn this until after noon on Friday. Brian, Bill and I went over to the course to check it out and after only 1/2 a lap our bikes were completely clogged with mud, grass, etc., plus it was freezing on as it hit the frame. Bill’s race was in less than an hour and we headed back to the hotel to use a hose there. It took me a good 30 minutes to get the stuff off of Bill’s bike. Mainly because the hose was in the shade and the water was freezing back as soon as it hit the frame. The temperature was in the mid teens.

So I knew back at the course it was going to be carnage. I didn’t or couldn’t imagine how much though. We had a 5 gallon bucket of hot water, plus a few gallons of windshield washer fluid. That was hardly close to enough. The bikes were coming in worse and worse as the day progressed. I was handing Bill back bikes that were bikes that he should have been giving me to be cleaned. The amount of destroyed equipment was unbelievable. Dozens of broken derailleur hangers. Sometimes frames. Chains, wheels, you name it, it was broken.

All because the promoters of the event couldn’t make sure there were power washers working. It is inexcusable. It was the World Championships, the course conditions were worse than almost any bike race I’ve ever been to, and there is no way to spray the bikes.

No one seemed to take charge. I could have just drove to Home Depot and rented 5 power washers and put them in my van. No one from the promotional end seemed to give a shit.

Many a race was decided by this issue. Whoever had driven to the event and had planned to have a full pit, most likely had a bucket and the tools needed to just barely maintain. But, riders that had flown to Louisville, were most likely SOL.

And that was the deal. There wasn’t a rider at the races on Friday that wasn’t affected by the lack of power washers. I have no idea how the 40-44 men’s race would have been different, but the riders at the front of the race were having completely different experiences because of this fiasco. The Spanish guy that was winning, broke his derailleur hanger off. Pete Webber, who was riding in the front, broke his. Mark Savery was getting super clean bikes back from Tom Price, charged all the way to the front and won the event by a large margin. Mark and Tom had planned from this, but you can’t blame a guy that flew over from Spain, not to be prepared. It is a joke.

I ran into Sean Petty, from USAC, after the Elite Worlds and he was giddy, as was I, about the day. I nearly turned to speak my mind about the disaster at the venue down the road, the day before, but held my tongue. The Elite Worlds eclipsed the Master’s event with support. I understand the issue of having to move the Elite race up a day, but I was told that the two venues had completely separate staff. But, there is no excuse for a break down so huge that every single rider in the event was affected by the situation.

I went to the self service car wash after the races and spent over $20 to get 4 bikes and a couple sets of wheels marginally clean. Bill Elliston told me later than night, he went to a car wash, swiped his credit car, and $110 later, he had cleaned his equipment. He must of been freezing by then.

I really don’t understand how this could have happened. I have to assume that the power washers that were left out all night were destroyed. I also have to assume that they were just rented, so someone is out a big chunk of money. These weren’t your garage variety power washers, they were industrial. And all someone had to do was either go and run RV antifreeze through them the night before or better yet, pick them up and take them inside. You didn’t see this problem in Kansas City, Bend or Madison the previous Nationals. And all these races, it was below freezing.

I’d love to hear an explanation or “excuse” from anyone from the organization for this whole mess. Please, someone try your best to explain.

USAC should refund the entry fees of all the riders that raced on Friday and send each and everyone of the riders an apology letter, along with a free entry to next years National Championships in Boulder. And this still would not come close to making up or being square with the situation. World Championships were decided by the promoter’s failure to do their job. It is inexcusable.

My bike after 1/2 a lap riding on Friday.

My bike after 1/2 a lap riding on Friday.

Brian's brand new Eriksen after the same 1/2 a lap racing on Friday.

Brian’s brand new Eriksen after the same 1/2 a lap racing on Friday.

Pete Webber leaving the pit when he still had a bike that he could pedal at a reasonable speed.

Pete Webber leaving the pit when he still had a bike that he could pedal at a reasonable speed.

The trailer headed back to Colorado with 65 destroyed cross bikes.

The trailer headed back to Colorado with 65 destroyed cross bikes.

57 thoughts on “$100000 + of Equipment Down the Drain

  1. wojtek

    There is more to the bucket list:

    – no Internet connection @ Galt House registration room
    – anybody knew about the bicycle trainers at the mysterious white tent? (mysterious, since nobody placed any banners)
    – finding the preliminary results was a game of hide and seek, since they posted them BEHIND the back wall.

    My friend’s bike does not look any better in the pics:





    This guy had some expensive issues as well (is it # 13?):


  2. John

    Huge bummer….especially because 90% of those bikes were bought with hard earned money from a job, not some sponsorship deal.

  3. Gary

    Yep, agree 100%. I raced the 40-44 on Friday, and then jumped in to work the pit for a friend in the 35-39 race immediately afterwards. It was a joke.

    As a promotor of a (small) local cross race, I know we’re at the mercy of the weather, and you just can’t control it. But at a race of this level, with racers paying $75+ each just to register, and coming in from all over the US, and world, to have frozen power washers and no effort to remedy the situation all day, was just unacceptable. Sub-freezing weather was forecasted for Friday, all week long.

    I won’t hold my breath for that refund Steve mentioned, though.

  4. Thom Kneeland

    I’m glad to see the UCI was sticklers over who could work the pits for the masters races. Making pit crews hold valid mechanics licenses and wanting racers and crews to buy them online and not on site and yet not having the foresight to bring in the power washers at night is really bush league. This is a prime example of why people are so upset with the UCI and USAC. They want to take a premium of our money because of all the prestige of having “professional” quality races, but they constantly fall down on providing the accompanying level of support.

  5. David

    All they had to do was put up a couple ten by tens with a propane heater over night and all would have been fine. Funny you mention the Colorado crew. They (specifically Wesley Smith from Pro Bike Express) had the forethought Thursday night to put all of Friday’s race bikes in the back of rental van with a propane heater. This kept the drivetrains from freezing up. And you are right that what the promoters did was inexcusable.

  6. Gordo

    That looks like a course where the lightest single speed cx bike you can carry the whole race would be the winning bike to have at the race. Especially if you don’t have spare bikes or a pro pit crew with you.

  7. Brian

    Agreed. I flew from Minneapolis with one bike, one set of wheels, and hope for a reasonable course. I raced Wednesday morning for two laps (after a two hour delay) and made Friday’s final. In Friday’s 44-49 final I raced on one bike until I was forced to abandon with one lap to go. My bike, completely clogged with frozen mud and grass, simply stopped working. I was pedaling as hard as I could and not moving forward. It was futile. I had to drop out of the race–the first time I’ve been forced to quit a race in over a decade. There was plenty of pavement in the park to make the course a little more ride-able. Aside from the pressure washer oversight, a few simple course changes overnight to include extra pavement would have made a big difference. In general I felt like the masters venue was an afterthought and no one really spoke up to assure that we could have a quality race. Worlds was a disappointment and a sad way to end the season.

  8. steevo

    Have USAC ever issued a refund?

    If you bought a Saturday and Sunday pass, it was 40 bucks. Just one day was 25. If you asked for refund, they said that you were getting to see what you paid for, just in one day. HOwever if you showed up that day, you paid 15 dollars less. So dumb.

  9. Nancy

    You have reason about the failure of the promoters and they should refund the riders.
    I think you should keep a power washer in your van and bring it to the race. It happened at Providence on the East coast that the power washers supplied by the promoters were problematic or without pressure. All the riders from the Cannondale-Rapha-Cal giant were getting clean bikes because they were using their own power washer while everyone else from local teams were looking miserable. I think the UCI rule said that the promoter need to provide access to a water source or not really providing a power washer.

  10. TC2wheel

    What did you expect? it’s Louisville, KY, how often do they get sub-freeing temperature that freeze water from power washers? seems to me just poor preparation if you left your bikes frozen with mud/grass caked on the bike when you know it is going to be cold.

  11. Good Luck with USUCK

    Steve, good luck getting anyone from USUCK to take responsibilty or refund money for the event. I’m surprised that a guy like you that has been around for so long would even think there’s a snow ball’s chance in hell that something would be done like that.

    They don’t give a shit about the amatuer racers or their experience (good or bad) at the event. They are over there hanging from every Elite Pro’s ball bag just like you mentioned about Petty.
    And its sad actually because the amateurs are the backbone of the sport, the people who actually pay for their product, travel and entry fee’s. In some ways, they have more invested that a top tier Pro in that regard and though your commentary would seem logic, in the context of USAC I hate to say it, but your dreaming!

  12. channel_zero

    1. This is not road racing.
    2. Crying about it won’t change a thing. USAC/UCI owns the monopoly on bike racing and most of you will still gladly support it after whining about this little episode.

    I’d say 99.9% of the bikes were bought with hard-earned money. Oh and how much was each bike? $5000? How much were the wheels alone? How many wheels in each Weekend Warrior rider’s pit?

    There was no problem spending the dough and all of the riders are experienced enough to know better and only now that some of the toys broke are there regrets. Get over it, or spend less money on gear

    Complaining about the money spent at the car wash makes you guys look even worse.

    Get a whaaaambulance!

  13. tilford97 Post author

    TC2Wheel-I don’t think you understand the magnitude of the issue. No bikes were left. The bikes gathered mud and grass that instantly froze when they hit the bikes. You’re bike could have been a frozen mass in less than a minute of riding.

    There was no efficient way to remove the mess manually. It was the true perfect storm situation.

  14. james

    I agree that it was a fiasco, and that USAC should be ashamed of themselves for not putting any thought into what seems like a simple process.

    I do have to disagree a bit on the “poor” guys and their thousands of dollars of equipment. I read with envy on mudandcowbells.com about how these guys in Boulder have backup bikes that rival any of my primary equipment. The picture of their trailer loaded for Worlds looks like that of a national team. They have tons of tires, tons of wheels, and tons of bikes. Yes, the fact that they have nice equipment shouldn’t negate the need for a working power washer. However, if I was riding that type of stuff, and had the support crew I would have planned for bringing at least some rudimentary cleaning equipment.

    I raced for a two-bit pro road team back in the 90’s – we were given the choice of two bikes with a Dura Ace drivetrain or 3 bikes with Ultegra to last the season. I chose the Ultegra and lost many races, but I couldn’t blame any of those losses on the few hundred grams difference in equipment. I still work in the industry and hear people whining about breaking $2000 carbon wheels during training rides. Again, I am not making any excuse for something that should have absolutely been in working order, but I’m about over hearing people cry about destroying a Red group or carbon rims on a bike you ride in the MUD.

  15. Touriste-Routier

    I was working for one of the National Teams at Elite Worlds. After seeing the fiasco of the washers at the masters course, we were in a panic, fearing similar levels of preparation. We also noted that there was no water supply for the National Teams at the Team Paddock. Also when the elite course was open for training (Th & Fri), there were no power washers available.

    So we took it upon ourselves to make 2 x 60-gallon water tanks for use at the Elite races (we had previously rented 2 washers to use at our hotel) and bought 10 gallons of anti-freeze to mix in. Fortunately the power washers at the race were working fine, and had adequate staff. We ended up using our tanks only in the paddock (so we could wash bikes after warm-up and before loading them into our trucks after the races). Had we needed to use the tanks for the races themselves, we too would have been screwed at some point, but we wouldn’t have been as bad off as everyone else.

    There are just some things that organizers need to take responsibility for at UCI level events. You can’t change the weather, but you can take steps to prevent equipment from freezing (packing up the power washers, adding anti-freeze to the water tanks, etc.). However, even if they were functioning properly at the Masters races, there were not an adequate number of washers for the conditions. At one of the races our staff also worked at, the line was so long, bikes were not ready by the time the rider came back through the pits again. This is inexcusable at the Worlds level.

  16. Mike Rodose

    Get more bikes, wheels and tires!

    Stop complaining because you didn’t bring the full monty to the race!

    Waaaaaaaaaaaah. My only bike got muddy on a muddy course. Waaaaaaaah.

  17. Mike Rodose

    Everybody wanting more and better Promoters and Races…shut the hell up.

    Seriously…a bunch of aging weekend warriors demanding to be treated like Pros. Idiots love to pretend…missed expectations lead to dramatic sour grapes. Just read these comments…Bunch of sad-ass victims.

    95 percent of racers deserve shit. The other 5 percent get shit…


  18. Mike Rodose

    For all the whining…entry fees should be tripled.

    At what price will you NOT pay to play? Pretty high, since as a lame racer, you don’t have to do any responsibility but register, maybe show up and race. On a fully-prepared course that meets Pro specifications.

    Waaaaaah…keep complaining and watch entry fees increase.

    Promoters will charge an incremental, but hidden, doouche-baggery fee.

  19. ted

    Don’t know about that. At least by name, this is the “world championship,” not some local weekend race promoted by the corner bike shop. I’d assume each racer has made his/her way here on excellence and achievement. Don’t they deserve a proper event.
    Yeah, shut the hell up indeed, blowhard.

  20. ted

    Don’t know about that. At least by name, this is the “world championship,” not some local weekend race promoted by the corner bike shop. I’d assume each racer has made his/her way here on excellence and achievement. Don’t they deserve a proper event? Or are we waiting for the Intergalactic championships to get races run right?
    Yeah, shut the hell up indeed, blowhard.

  21. Mark S

    All they would have had to do was suck windshield washer fluid thru the washers and and they would have been winterized it takes a minute max ,They would have been good to go the next day, Somebody should have called me .

  22. JPrumm

    Mike, you are one very disrespectful person. I suggest you learn to talk a little nicer to others.

  23. Joseph

    Channel Zero, that post above sounds as though you’ve got some mental issues to work through. Best of luck to you.

  24. Calvin Jones

    I can see why this is upsetting. It get sticky, so to speak, when a promoter enters the picture with “neutral power washers”, because the promoter should above all else strive to be fair. It might take a lot more resources (i.e. higher fees) to be “fair” to the entire field in the pit washes. I wasn’t there at KY, but it sure looked like a mess from afar. I suspect word has trickled (flooded?) back to the promoter on this.

    Compared to TT’s, crits, road racing, track, XC, or even DH, CX relies much more on having your own pit crew, and a lot of equipment (at least at the level in KY). The race is not always determined on the course, it is sometimes decided in the pit. Bringing your own power washer and crew to these big events is like bringing a gun to knife fight.

  25. kobecobra

    It 10 degrees with a minus 10 wind chill on the course at 8:00. Frozen condions for the 55+ women gave way to mud pudding by noon. I don’t think you have to be the Oracle of Delphi to watch a weather forecast and then take steps to protect the washers. Masters or not this was a big event and so the promoters should have been ready.

  26. Joe

    I was there, and I am sure that the lack of power washers sucked. I live here, and I can tell you that it was literally the coldest day in years. It may not be a good enough excuse, but I’m sure it was not a lack of desire for the promoters to have a fair playing field, but a lack of local experience with the extreme conditions. On the flip side, just down the road, the promoters and city were moving quickly to ensure they built a temporary floodwall to ensure the weekend events could be held at all. If I had to guess, that was a MAJOR distraction on Friday, and likely drew resources away from solving issues with the Masters events. As a spectator, it seemed to me that the overall event, Masters, Juniors, U23, Elite Women, and Elite Men, was a success. As a local, who volunteered, I’m sorry the event was not flawless. I don’t know what happened behind the scenes, but given what was done RIGHT, maybe we can look at the week on its balance and temper the criticism a bit.

  27. Ryan O

    All you haters are going to stiffel Steve’s voice…arm chair athletes… His experienced words are gifts, where else can you find such unfiltered insights.(not a question) The conditions were exceptional. I was there and raced and it was impossible but it was the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS!!!! What should racers expect? Everything that can be expected at a world championship race. The horrible weather was expected by everyone (masters cross racers have done this a few times) The unexpected was allowing the conditions to nullify the racing at a world championship event…

  28. 2 Johns

    Totally agree with Tilly on this one. I raced at 12:30 then pitted the last race of the day on Friday. It was chaotic on both fronts. I was pitting every 1/2 lap then did a full lap at end. My bike was 5+ lbs heavier and barely functional at finish. My favorite episode of the day though was when I was working the pits. I’m zipped up head to toe in waterproof gear waiting for my rider to come around anticipating the mud/water bath I’ll get trying to clean his bike. The official strides down pit lane shouting “PIT PASSES, show me your pit passes!! C’mon people this isn’t your local weekend cross race, this is World Championships!!” My pass is totally buried and I’m not about to disrobe to display it. Instead I say, “Exactly correct. This IS World Championships, so why aren’t the g.d. pressure washers working?” Said official glares at me momentarily then turns and continues to walk, “Pit passes, show me your pit passes…” Our (Masters) races seemed more of a money grab to me. They got us to Friday then deployed their physical and mental energies to the *real* racing. There’s no way they would’ve let Saturday’s race go off without washers under similar weather conditions. Kudos for the quick reschedule and great racing on Saturday, but two thumbs down for the way we were (mis)treated on Friday.

  29. Jeff

    Steevo, not that I was thrilled, but they did charge $40 to people who showed up on Saturday. I guess they were scrambling to recoup the projected loss. They did badly under estimate the need for toilets and food vendors. The big joke was people making lunch out of Honey Stinger waffles and gels.

  30. eric

    Well. When i sign up for races, its usually just that.. A race. I don’t expect all the amenities. They are nice to have. If you start to expect all this at a race then expect the cost of entree fees to rise also. really stop your crying. Whaaaaa my bike is frozen…Then go play golf! Its your fault no one else. Stop blaming other people for your problems and blame yourself for not addressing and adapting to whats going on.

  31. Michel

    Well, nasty indeed.
    Now, have a note, during the trainings for Elites, for the FIRST TIME EVER, there was no bike wash working either…
    Not normal at all, specialy for the “small” countryes that didn’t flew in with heavy material.
    So, the problem was the same at booth venues.

  32. tilford97 Post author

    Yeah-The WD40 guys, that were doing their best to help out, had to move their operation over to the Elite venue, from the Master’s venue on Thursday. They apologized, knowing what carnage lie ahead.

  33. Justin

    Tilford – What’s happening to all of that damaged equipment? I’m in the market for my 1st cross bike and would love to purchase a discounted bike. Let me know…

  34. BoB

    There were hot water power washers.. ie heats the water on the fly.. available for rent in Clarksville IN, 6 miles from the venue….

  35. David B

    To Joe, I will say that I did everything I could to thank every volunteer at the Master’s course all week when I had a spare moment, they deserved great praise. I do agree with Steve though, I personally felt really let down by the level of preparation on the organizers part when there was only one working washer on Thursday (when I was pitting for a friend) and none on Friday when I was racing. In the end I was pretty unhappy. The amazing thing is that for last year’s Master’s Worlds the weather was almost exactly the same, with warmer wet early on and then frozen later. Couldn’t have been that big of a surprise to the organizers, that had experienced similar the year before. :-/

    It does also state in the UCI regulations (section 5.1.034): At UCI world championships and UCI world cup events the organiser must provide eight high-pressure cleaners in the pit area.

    They pretty much dropped the ball on that one.

  36. racers arefunny

    man, you cyclists sure can whine! stop shaving your legs and instead shave your heads. then cut the end off your tacky 60’s style bedroom lamp cord and duct tape each exposed end to either temple and plug it the phuck in the outlet. for an added effect, dip your shaved balls (yeah, you know it’s true) into a bowl of ice cold salt water and grab on to your metal bed frame.

  37. Calvin Jones

    Surely this reference must a witty twist to the “honey badger” meme popularized to today’s youth on youtube? At least it made sense at the time.

  38. Mike Rodose

    Welcome to a lower tier sport here in Amurica.

    Everyone here is requesting NFL-level support in a cross race. That was held in 5 degree weather.

    From racers to spectators…Everyone demands a PRO production. Without paying Pro money…for entry fees, for spectators, for leagues, for unions, for TV, media, etc.

    These are the WORLD championships of cyclocross, after all! You demand perfection!

    Again…shut up…unless you pay triple the entry fees and the environment doesn’t change. Then complain nicely and to the promoter.

    Self-important, sanctimonious, fools! Push the thumbs down on me as if you are a Roman King judging gladiators. Except you have no dough, no power and no sense of reality. Eff-tards.

  39. Mike Rodose

    Reality is obliterated in favor of drama and whining for most people.

    More tents, heaters, spectators, services, toilet paper, condiments, meatless chili, medics, psychics, lower entry fees, better prize money, better directions, hotter coffee, where’s the chai, course map wrong, barriers too high, should paint those roots, better parking, too much sand, too many roots, 15 “Pro” women as a field, “equal” prize money, cheeseless pizza, faster registration, unlimited bathrooms..heated of course, better signage, more and better parking, heated changing rooms, greeters, prizes for top 50, Cat 5s gracing us with their presence, damage to the venues, loss of cash.

    Waaaaaaaaah…where are the cool races?

  40. Mike Rodose

    Disrespectful of who and what? Whining idiots?

    No. I won’t change my ways because most people spend their time whining about their issues. Just look at any facebook, blog or other public forum. All waaaaah, all the time.

    Oh..and lastly, JPrumm. You’re no different. waaaaah….someone is being disrespectful on the interweb. Get ready….

    Fuck off douchebag.

  41. Mike Rodose

    I fully accept the Strange Bird title. As well as Total Douche.

    The interweb is good times!

  42. David B

    UCI Cycling Regulations

    Section 5.1.034

    At UCI world championships and UCI world cup events the organiser must provide eight high-pressure cleaners in the pit area.

  43. joe1265

    Although it’s not an excuse, I have an analogy that explains the situation – driving down from Michigan Friday morning we came through Ohio and the roads were snow free , dry and treated. Cross the bridge from Cincinnati to KY and within 5 miles the roads SUCK. On I-71 the Federal Interstate is covered with ice and traffic is at a standstill. We only saw a few wrecks, but judging from the high number of tracks that indicated cars/trucks had driven into the roadside ditches it must have been carnage on that interstate just 5 hours earlier. In 100 miles we saw one beaten snow plow truck that looked like it was built n 1940.

    You say “You didn’t see this problem in Kansas City, Bend or Madison the previous Nationals. And all these races, it was below freezing.” I just don’t think KY has the WINTER = FREEZING TEMPS BELOW 32F mindset.

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