TdG2006 Roadside: Race of Truth

Thursday’s time trial stage of the Tour de Georgia was a brutal 40 km suffer-fest of hills and heat. The start was in Chickamauga, a historic Civil War battlefield, then through a nasty 40 km course to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Our man on the street wandered the frenzied scene that is part and parcel of a TT start and finish…

Mavic’s Plan of Attack
First up was a chat with Alex Vaivars from Mavic USA, which is providing neutral race service for the TdG. “Things have been pretty calm so far, as the pack is all together on flat stages and the team cars can cover their own mechanicals usually. It’s on the mountain stages where we really have to scramble to cover riders scattered all over the course.”

Pez What about today’s time trial? What’s the Mavic plan?

Alex Vaivars Time trials are easy yet hard. It’s hard because neither the teams nor us have enough vehicles or people to cover every rider. So what we do instead is set up ten pit stops along the course so that riders can still get help en route even if they don’t have a follow car with them.

Pez Where is the Mavic support team based and what’s your equipment?

AV There’s four of us based full-time at Mavic USA in Haverhill, MA. We have a truck, trailer, 5 cars, and 2 bikes. Then there’s also a pickup and trailer for mountain bike support. We have 20 Scott CR-1 bikes kitted up with Ultegra. And of course Mavic wheels! 150 wheels in total, a mix of Ksyrium Elites, SL, and ES. For personnel, we have a network of volunteer mechanics that we call upon whatever region we are in.

Pez What’s the best path to becoming a Mavic or team mechanic?

AV Once you have basic shop experience and mechanical skills, the USCF Bill Woodul program is an excellent foundation. It teaches you not only mechanical skills but also the whole logistical aspect of the job. Then it’s a lot of volunteer work at events like this and on-the-job experience.

”The Race” and “The Tour”
As is commonly seen at many top cycling races and events, Dave Shields was there promoting and selling his two novels on the sport of cycling. Both books have spent a lot of time as #1 on Amazon’s sports fiction list, and “The Race” was also awarded the 2005 Ben Franklin Award for “Best New Voice in Fiction.”

Pez Where do you call home and what’s your cycling history?

Dave Shields I’m from Salt Lake City. I started riding back in 1980 and have done a lot of both bike racing and triathlons. For a while I was averaging about 40 tris a year. However, now with researching, writing, and marketing my writing, there’s getting to be less and less time for riding itself!

Pez What’s the thought process behind marketing your books at cycling events?

DS It’s a lot of work to travel but it’s a huge bang for the buck. In 2005 I attended pretty much every major cycling race in the US, along with some of the major cycling events such as century rides. I was also at many of the MS150 events too. I usually try to get to both the start and finish of the races too.

But why market this way? It’s the best way to directly reach people and generate word of mouth for the books. Events like this can sell hundreds if not thousands of books, and I often see people in subsequent years bringing their friends to the booth and selling them on the books too!

Pez What was the original inspiration for “The Race?”

DS My first book was The Pendulum’s Path. That was critically acclaimed but never really found its niche market. At the same time, I couldn’t get the thought of writing about cycling out of my head, so that led me to The Race.

Pez How did you achieve the authenticity of the book?

DS Once I had the initial draft, I got into contact with Marty Jemison (ex-Postal, USPro champ, and Tour finisher). I kept pleading with him to read the draft but he wasn’t really a reader and was reluctant to. Eventually he agreed to do so. I then get this call from Marty and he tells me that he read the book in one sitting and couldn’t put it down. So he invited me over to his place and we spent five hours sitting on the porch our first meeting and going through the draft and working on the details together. He loved how it brought out so many of the emotions that he felt when riding and racing, and he’s been incredibly generous with his help ever since.

Hometown Nova Scotian Boy
Over at the camp, I caught up with my homeboy Dustin MacBurnie from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Dustin was a young rider we helped developed through the 2001 Canada Games program when I was President of Bicycle Nova Scotia, and it is beyond incredibly cool to see him progress to the point where he’s racing in the biggest race in North America!

Pez Dustin! How are things?

Dustin MacBurnie Things are SOOOO great!

Pez So what’s it like on Targetraining?

DM Really incredible. It’s my first year as a pro and it doesn’t get much better than having Tom Schuler as your team manager. There’s lots of support and everything is so well-organized.

Pez What has your prep been for this race, and what is your plan for Georgia?

DM I started racing in a stage race down in Mexico. My last big race before this was Redlands, then I spent a few weeks getting ready back home in Halifax. Didn’t I see you on the Sambro Loop? (Yes, Dustin was this green blur going the other way). As with all of us on the team, we’re here to gain experience in general, but my specific job is to help Colby for GC, and to be there for him in the hilly stages.

Post-TT Notes
Following the TT, the following comments were rustled up:

Dustin MacBurnie ( “Thank goodness I had a 25 or I’d have been walking up that hill! I was just constantly sitting and standing trying to get a decent rhythm going but it was so hard! Lucky there were so many people cheering and going mad on the hill.”

Mike Sayers (HealthNet-Maxxis) “That was HORRIBLE! I’m just not a TT guy at all, especially on a course like that. I didn’t pre-ride the course and it’s always a bit sketchy going full-out on a TT bike on descents like these when you don’t know the course. Give me 50 km/h crosswinds and gutter action any day!”

Tony Cruz (Toyota-United) “Guys had me so scared with all their talk but it wasn’t too bad. I mainly sat in the 39×23/25 most of the way. It was a great TT course but definitely hard and long.”

Floyd Landis (Phonak-iShares) “Radio wasn’t working and I didn’t know any times at all, but I kinda prefer it that way anyway.” When asked about the similar setup to last year in the highly anticipated battle with Discovery Channel in the coming stages: “Well, we have a really good team and we’re working really hard and well together. So if they beat us, they’re going to deserve it!”

Fred Rodriguez (Davitamon-Lotto) “The results pretty much stacked up as I expected them to. I mainly just rode tempo and we’ll aim to see what we can do on Friday and Sunday>”

PezCycling is travelling with Discover Adventures at the Tour de Georgia, see their website at
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