What's Cool In Road Cycling

Dispatch: The Pro Mechanic

John Sessa has a cool job. He’s a pro wrench – a bonafide card carryin’ ‘team mechanic. We met John this summer at le Tour when he was “vacationing” in France as support for Inside Track Tour’s TDF adventures. He’s now back on the road with Team Fakta at the Tour of Poland, but sent us this dispatch before he left…

By stroke of luck, the team schedule allows me a few days back in Auvers-sur-Oise, France, my home base here in Europe. Thanks to my “landlord” Mimi for letting us store our gear at his place and thanks to my old roomie, sport director, best buddy Whit for having a spare power adaptor here. Somewhere along the line I lost my power adaptor; a $1.00 doover that you can’t seem to buy anywhere in Europe. So now in addition to playing catch up on bike riding, video gaming, beer drinking and post card sending, I can deal with the emails.

Since taking some “off-time” in July to do the Tour de France with Inside Track Tours, I have been full gas on the road with the team. My August schedule had me at the World Cup in Hamburg, a one day race in Italy, back to Germany for a ‘fixed crit’ followed by a UCI 1.3, the Tour of Denmark, Ronde van Nederland, and then the GP Ouest France, Tour Poitou-Charentes and GP Telegramme all in France. That’s a couple of two or three km’s behind the wheel, much of it solo. After a few days off, I should be fit to depart Friday morning for the drive to Poland and the start of that national tour. Fortunately, I will have a driving partner and will be fortified by sleep and today’s cd purchases.

You may have read/heard that fakta is not renewing for next year; sad, but true. The management is searching for a new sponsor to keep the team going and we all have high hopes that something will come through. In the interim, riders and staff alike are sniffing around for other options. Recent race results have been good, – one day in yellow and fifth on final g.c. in Denmark, and third overall on final g.c. at Poitou-Charentes – so that is a plus for both parties.

For me, the current team status and lack of contract gives all the more motivation to complete everything in a timely manner, have the bikes completely dialled-in, and vehicles looking tip-top. You always want to set the bar high, but this time of year you know the guys at the other teams are looking at your work and taking notes. One of the mechanics I am talking to brought me a wheel that had a mystery spoke nipple lost inside. Not sure that it was a test so much as he couldn’t be bothered, but he said that he and his co-worker had in their spare time spent three weeks trying to get it out. He gave me five minutes to get it out and offered two “podium caps’” as reward; if I couldn’t work the magic, he threatened to back over it with his truck. I reckon it took closer to ten, so when I took it back I said I would settle for just one cap (and a contract).

The weather is just starting to change here. At the race Sunday morning in Bretagne it was just 10 degrees Celsius. Sure that’s not cold, but after two months of 30 deg across the whole of Europe it seemed a bit of a shocker. Washing the team cars before breakfast, the hands were just going a bit numb as we finished up. Nice that I am back at home and can exchange some summer clothing for long sleeves and long pants before heading to Poland. Of course when I get back to Florida mid-October, it should be a switch back again. Yeah, Florida; can’t wait to get back and ride my bike like everyday. This job is the best, but sometimes it is a bit like “water all around and not a drop to drink.”

The rest of my season should be as follows: Tour of Poland, Rheinland-Pfalz (germany), Paris-Correze (three day stage race), Paris-Bourges (one day) and maybe Paris-Tours.

Tot straks


About John:
After a few years of turning wrenches in a shop and working part time for Euro teams at Tour DuPont, and Philly’s USPRO week, John spent three years in the U.S. and Europe with the Mercury team. In 2002, it was on to Team fakta where he has been since. Now it is the “silly season” when riders and staff alike are scrambling for jobs.

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