Tom Hopper working for Garmin Sharp. Photo from VeloNews.
Mechanics are unsung heroes of bike racing. Most people recognize the critical role they play in a rider’s success (it’s tough to win if your bike falls apart on your breakaway). But how many of us could name the mechanic supporting Andy Hampsten the day he attacked over Gavia Pass or the guy working the pits for Jonathan Page when he took Silver at Worlds? Good mechanics are perhaps most critical in cyclocross where harsh conditions and hard racing frequently result in destroyed derailleurs, flat tires, and worse. Tom Hopper is a mechanic for the Rapha Focus cyclocross team. In this interview he discusses what it takes to be a successful pro-team mechanic, his history in cycling, innovations in cyclocross technology, and more.
Like the majority of American’s in their early 20s, Adam McGrath is making big transitions in his life as he finds his path. Granted, his transition is from pro cyclocross racer to rural homesteader, but it’s a transition just the same. More focused on sustainable living than podiums and prize money, Adam’s chosen to settle down on a small piece of land on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula rather than continue traveling the country and world to race cyclocross. In Part one of the interview, we talked about Adam’s rise to the ranks of pro cycling and his formative years of nearly-constant world travel. Part two picks up with Adam’s disenfranchisement with professional racing, the balance he finds living on a farm, and his future as a professional cyclist.
In an effort to promote bicycling, the University of Virginia installed a public D.I.Y. repair stand with an air pump and enough tools to fix almost any basic mechanical problem. It’s a simple and clever way for the school to not only show their support for bikes, but offer cyclists something practical and helpful. It’s also nice to see an institution taking a different approach to bike advocacy than slapping down some sharrows or painting some poorly placed bike lanes.
It would be great if public repair stands caught on in cities everywhere. It makes so much sense to install them along bike paths and high-traffic bike corridors. I carry a basic repair kit and pump with me every time I ride. But if I had the option to throw my bike on a stand and use real tools rather than propping my bike against the nearest sign and working my little hand pump until my arms get tired, I would do it every time.
Alex and the middle stages of his first cycletruck. Photo from Duncan Cycles.
Alex Wetmore is not a household name for most of the cycling world. But in certain circles–like the iBob and Framebuilders listservs and Bicycle Quarterly’s readership–Alex’s name rings out as a skilled framebuilder with impressively deep technical savvy. He’s documented his work as a hobbyist frame/fork/rack builder, his technical trials with the inner workings of bikes and components, his adventures with “rough stuff cycling,” and more on his blog and as a contributor to Bicycle Quarterly. Alex and I talked about his roots in cycling, his attraction to the technical sides of bikes, his love of remote rough-road riding, and more.
Alright, chains alone aren’t terribly interesting despite their importance in every cyclist’s life. But this clip from the show How It’s Made showing the factory production of a new chain is surprisingly interesting. Have patience when you start the video. The first few seconds are a little off.