SRAM – Neutral Race Support

What do I do when my team car is AWOL?

When the pro peloton starts turning the pedals there’s one thing you can count on and that is there will be mechanical issues, all day long. Each team is responsible for the maintenance of their bikes and employs a full time team of mechanics to completely tear down each bike, clean it, rebuild and lube it while the riders eat dinner and bed down. When they throw their legs over the bike frame the next day it’s essentially a new bike.

Throughout any race, which can be up to 150 – 180 miles each day, there will be problems. The team car usually follows the peloton, French for “platoon”, or what we might call “the pack” and will be prepared to resolve issues that arise. Regardless of how many team cars are permitted it’s guaranteed that at some point your car will be out of place when one of your riders has a mechanical issue.

SRAM to the rescue

SRAM Neutral Support “Class Photo”
SRAM Neutral Support “Class Photo”

Insert SRAM Neutral Race Support. Their job is to supplement the team cars and help any rider who needs it. Their efforts, at any cost, are to get the rider back in the race. SRAM is a Chicago based bike component manufacturer. Interestingly, SRAM also owns Rock Shox, Avid, Truvativ, Zipp and Quarq. It stands to reason that SRAMs primary motivation is simply name recognition, which is not only understandable, but reasonable.

Let’s take a look at what is involved in running a Neutral Race Support crew. Michael Zellman SRAM PR Manager shared the following.

SRAM teams consists of:

  • 18 bike technicians
  • 3 x 2014 XE-70 Volvo
1 of 3 SRAM Volvo XE-70s
1 of 3 SRAM Volvo XE-70s

Zellman described his support cars as a “virtual rolling bike shop”, each car has:

  • 6 complete bikes
  • 6 sets of wheels
  • Each car has a host of small parts
  • Any tool you might need
  • Most common mechanical is a flat tire

The goal is to have the flat changed and the rider back on the road in 10-20 seconds. It’s starting to sound a bit like auto racing.

Motorbikes too!

Driver and Jumper ready to respond to the most common mechanical, the flat tire.
Driver and Jumper ready to respond to the most common mechanical, the flat tire.

SRAM team also consists of:

  • 2 x Aprilia Mana 850 GT ABS motorcycles
  • Automatic Seven-Speed clutchless sequential transmissions
  • Each motorbike has a driver and a jumper
  • 2 sets of complete wheels
  • Motorbike allows technicians to access anywhere in the peloton quickly and easily.
This wheel change in 20 seconds or less.
This wheel change in 20 seconds or less.

At certain points of each race and as the peloton bears down on the finish, all team cars are pulled back and the neutral support vehicles have full control over keeping the peloton moving. Occasionally a rider can be seen holding onto the neutral support vehicle while a technician hangs out the window working on the derailleur or the brakes. Riders are permitted to hold on the car while this brief repair is conducted as long as the effort doesn’t advance him or her in any way. At times it seems like the technician is working in an upside down position, which is crazy in itself. When a rider indicates that he has a flat tire and gently pulls over it’s amazing to witness the neutral team jump into action and get him going before too much ground is lost.

So, the next time you see SRAM’s Neutral Race Support trademark red cars and motorbikes, you’ll know a little bit more about why they are needed.

Ride my bike

Great Insight…

#30 is one of my favorites — calling to mind a drive home from Hillsboro Roubaix and my comment that traffic was acting as if in a Cat5 road race. #38 while riding the North Branch Trail loop on my track bike mid-day during the week is actually what I credit the most for making me a competitive cyclist. And thankfully I’ve never experienced #s 43 or 55.

Being a cyclist is quite a unique thing, as the article clearly explains. There are constantly moments when you have epiphanies that deepen the significance of cycling in your life as well. Then, it’s the sights and smells that bring back memories of that first UCI race experience, an epic climb, even a horrific crash. That said, here are some of the more poignant moments that have solidified me as the cyclist I am today:

1) The experience of getting paid to ride my bike and how it still motivates me when I look back on it; when it’s raining out, when where I’m sleeping – as comfortable as it may be – is not as desirable a locale as the cold morning streets, etc.

2) Descending at 50+MPH, laughing hysterically and being unable to hear it due to the wind’s howl past my ears

3) The smell of embrocation beating out the smell of my first girlfriend’s deodorant as all-time favorite scent

4) Watching several riders bumping wheels around me while in a fast chase group during a rainy crit and not being frightened, but getting goosebumps due to the fact that so few people get to experience that thrill

There’s maybe a dozen of those “rights of passage” I haven’t experienced — for one reason or another — and I can’t believe they omitted any mention of gluing/riding tubular tires, but it definitely shines some light on the oft misunderstood life of a cyclist. Even mine.

Cross Bikes

Q&A on CX and BMX

It has been a long time coming, but the following interview is here just in time for your reading. I want to personally thank Tim and Gork from Seattle Bike Supply for their time and their honest answers. Any ‘cross racer worth their canti’s and BMXer’s with their Flight cranks should reckognize these two cycling legends– if not now you will! This is a good read, trust me:

Q: How did you translate your love of bikes into a career in the cycling industry and how long have you been in the business?

Tim: “I have been in the business since 1973, I started at a small shop in Salem Oregon. I translated my love for all things bicycles from the challenge of fixing bikes and started off by fixing any and all bikes I could get my hands on.”

gOrk: “I’ve been working in the bike industry since 1985 – throughout the BMX industry. My first big gig was as Editor of the late, great BMX ACTION magazine. Then after that I went to the ABA – American Bicycle Association, to become Editor/Photographer for their American BMXer membership mag. I feel very fortunate. I think I was just in the right place at the right time, and knew the right people. But it was also a huge dream for me, that fortunately I was able to make come true.”

Q: Are there any trends in the industry that you see evolving that a casual, outside observer may not fully realize? Fixed-gears losing popularity? Cyclocross growing in popularity? Etc?

Tim: “Electric bikes are going to happen, commuting bikes are going to expand, all practical aspects of cycling will grow during these tough times.”

gOrk: “Both of us have seen so many trends come and go. From F-1 bikes to lowriders, scooters to choppers … whatever happens next is definitely going to come from the street. I’m pushing for a BMX revival, myself. Everyone who raced in the 70’s and 80’s – which was a LOT of people, will eventually bring their kids or grandkids out to try BMX racing. It’s due.”

Q: As a former BMX rider and current cyclocross fanatic, it’s obvious that we share similar passions in cycling. What are some other aspects of bike riding/racing that you guys enjoy? Touring? Racing crits 3 or 4 times a week?

Tim: “I still love riding to work—it gives me such a great release, after a day of work. I still love ‘Cross because it is so pure and simple, the cross culture—you are part of a “tribe.”

gOrk: “Have raced BMX since age 13 and now at 45, am still doing it in the 41-45 cruiser class. In fact, I was just dicing for the win last Thursday night at one of our local tracks here in Seattle. Beside the occasional bike ride to work – the second most riding I get done is hopping on the Torker Tandem with my wife and riding the Burke-Gilman trail up to Redhook Brewery for dinner and some blonde ale.”

Q: Anything you dislike?

Tim: “I dislike attitudes of exclusion, I like welcoming everyone to the sport. There really is something for everyone in cycling, from DH to BMX, to ‘Cross … so much diversity!”

gOrk: “What is there to dislike in cycling?! I guess I dislike how we cyclists are treated – honked or yelled at while riding in to work. I’d really like to change the perception of car drivers towards anybody on a bike on the road. Still not sure if it’s possible. I’m definitely not the best example for following all of the traffic laws myself. Suppose I’m as guilty as the rest of ‘em.”

Q: I get a lot of feedback on my daily commute; 15mi (30 round-trip). Most people, even some fellow racers think that’s a lot of miles. Personally, I wish it was about 5 miles longer. What was your longest regular commute?

Tim: “Now it’s only 6 miles. Used to be 15 back when I lived in Portland.”

gOrk: “I’m definitely not a daily bike-to-work commuter – but wish I could. I live 21 miles from work and I try to do the distance a coupla times a month during good weather. We’ve got some hardcore guys in the SBS warehouse who put both Tim and I to shame. Not only for days commuted in, but for distance. Our Redline hats are off to Val and Reo.”

Q: Do you commute to work? If so, on what? How is it commuting in Seattle as far as “bike-friendliness” goes?

Tim: “I use a Redline Conquest Pro ‘cross bike, I am out in the ‘burbs,” so car/bike relations are pretty tough. Some days everyone gets along, some days I can feel the tension of not being welcomed on the roads. I use sidewalks and shoulders depending on the road, but I always keep heightened awareness of what traffic is experiencing around me. Overall Seattle is getting much more bike friendly, things are changing.”

gOrk: “What Tim’s not telling you is about the time he ran in to some East Indian dude with a turban on his head, who was listening to a I-Pod. Tim was blasting down the hill and this dude stepped out right in front of him. Took him out like he was Bin Laden – but also took himself out at the same time. Tim’s got some GREAT bike-accident stories .. like the time we were in Holland on a business trip and I slammed on the brakes because I saw this car about to turn in to the driveway, and Tim was in a full sprint trying to catch up, and just SLAMMED the backend of my Batavus rental bike. He broke off the rear taillight. Total Dutch traffic accident. He’s also gotten cut off by homeless people and busted his collarbone … he could write a book on all of his commuting incidents. It’s crazy.

When I do ride in, it’s on a Redline R-760 .. our stab at a sweet road bike from two or three years ago. And I’m the King of taking short cuts … my fellow co-workers have dubbed them ‘gork-cuts’.”

Q: I know Redline is making some pretty hot ‘cross bikes.’ Are there any other bikes in the product line that the company is particularly proud of, etc? Anything unique about any models?

Tim: “The new commuter/lifestyle bikes such as the Redline Metro Disc, and the Metro 9 are really going well, and are great bikes for commuting and getting around on.”

gOrk: ” …and don’t forget about the newest addition to the Conquest family; the Conquest 20. The birth of our pint-sized Conquest bike for your kids. 20 x 1 3/8 wheels, flat bars, 14 speeds all at under $390! We actually just posted up the new 2010 Conquest bikes on the website – so check ‘em out on And they’re all due to arrive mid to late July. And you’ve still gotta love the Redline 9.2.5 .. that bike is still the best bargain for the urban single-speed crowd.”

Q: What are your most memorable race results?

Tim: “Winning ‘Cross Nationals and the Super Cup for Masters in 1999 is hard to beat, but racing in the 67th Giro d’Italia is always most memorable.”

gOrk: “Hmmmmm …. last week at SeaTac was pretty memorable. I pulled a killer swoop in the first corner, because I run platform pedals and was able to do my patented retro foot-off inside swoop on the clipped-in leader, and rode him high in the berm. Took off from there, didn’t case much in the rhythm section, scored the win and about passed out after the finishline. But I guess I’d have to go back in the late 70’s and early 80’s, when my brother and I were pretty unbeatable on a sidehack – took the UBR No.1 plate for Northern California for three years in a row.”

Q: Finally, the question every cyclist loathes: if you could only have one bike what type would it be?

Tim: “The 2010 Redline Conquest Team – versitle and beautiful, all in one!”

gOrk: “Without a doubt – my Flight 24” cruiser. I couldn’t live without a BMX bike.”

BSX track changes

BSX track changes

Over the last few weeks the BSX track has had some changes. The 2 hip jumps have grown in size and the last straight has received some changes that will surely provide spectators with some nail biting finishes. Since there is only two and a half weeks left before the event, Shane is asking for as much help as possible. An event of this caliber can’t be organized and ran without the help of volunteers, so if you have some spare time before the event or on the day, please contact Shane, your help will be greatly appreciated.


Frankston Hell Track

Lilydale Spring Cup & Frankston Hell Track

The Lilydale Bmx club have been in the rebuilding phase for some time now, completely bulldozing their track and starting from scratch. The 7th of October was the clubs first open meet on their new track, and it brought riders from all over the state of Victoria to race. There were 28 riders in the A Pro field, which saw them all ride 4 qualifying motos to determine who would transfer through to the semi finals. After the first 3 rounds I finished with a 3,2,3 and due to a staging error, I missed the fourth round. I had done enough to qualify through. In the semi I got allocated gate 7, which was not ideal but after a great snap, I was able to secure the 1 spot into the first corner where I remained till the finish. In the final, I was last to have the lane draw and all the was left was lane 8. Once again got a great snap and led into the first corner. I was able to hold the field off till the end for the win.

The Frankston Hell Track was held on the 14th of October and would be a twilight meet. Once again, a big A Pro field with 29 riders all battling for a slice of the $800 prize pool. There were only 3 qualifying rounds at this event, where I finished 4,3,3 to make the semi final, but after a mistimed snap I was left playing catchup. All I could manage was a 5th, which put me out of the final. Now with under 2 weeks till the Grand Nationals in Tulsa I’m feeling in good form and ready to take on some of the best riders the USA has to offer. Thanks to Dugga McLean for the images.

Kuwahara Laserlite Pro

Bike Check: Kuwahara/ECI’s Liam Steele’s Laserlite Pro

Tonight I had the opportunity to train with Dean and Liam Steele from the Lilydale Bmx Club. It’s always a treat training with Dean as he helps me out a lot with my riding. His son Liam is one of our sports up and coming stars, he has some awesome bike skills and if you ask him, he’ll tell you he can hold me down the first straight of most tracks. Both Dean and Liam are great guys to ride with. So I decided to ask Liam if I could do a bike check on his Kuwahara for He was nice enough to agree, so here it is, Liam’s Kuwahara Laserlite Pro.

  • Frame: Kuwahara Laserlite Pro
  • Fork: Answer Dagger carbon
  • Stem: Funn
  • Headset: Cane Creek
  • Bars: Unbranded
  • Grips: THE
  • Lever: Tektro
  • Cable: Mission
  • Brakes: Prime V2, black
  • Hubs: Profile Elite, Black 36 hole
  • Rear sprocket: Profile 16t
  • Rims: Alienation Anklebiter 1 3/8, black with gold nipples
  • Cranks: Profile 170mm, black.
  • BB: Euro
  • Sprocket: Profile Elite, black 43t
  • Chain: KMC
  • Pedals: Shimano resin cage SPD (race) Funn Viper Soul Jam (trails)
  • Tires: ITS MK2 micro knob
  • Seat: Alienation Slider Pivotal, black
  • Post: Alienation pivotal
  • Clamp: Kuwahara
  • Chain Tensioner: Answer
  • Extras: Eco speedo
  • Plate: Dirt Designs, Trail & Track numbers (25)
Bendigo Goldrush & Eastfield

Bendigo Goldrush & Eastfield Experience wrap up

The Bmx racing season is back in full swing. Over the last 2 weekends riders from around Victoria travelled to Bendigo for the annual ‘Goldrush’ and to Eastfield for “The Experience”
Bendigo ran the Pro Open class which saw 3 gates of riders battling it out for a shot at the final. After flipping the gate in practice, I qualified into the semi final. It was not all smooth sailing though. The gate failed after the electronic prompts and all 8 semi final riders went over the gate. Once the issue was rectified riders loaded up again and got ready to race. A 3rd place in the semi put me through to the final. With a slow start I found myself in traffic and finished the race in 7th.

Next on the calendar was the Eastfield
Experience. With 33 single A Pro riders, it was going to be a big day of fast and competitive racing. Qualifying moto’s saw me pull 3,6 and a 2nd, which had me on 11 points. When the semi finals were announced, it was the best of the best in each semi. When the gate dropped I was playing catchup to the rest of the field, and went to make my move into the first corner, but unfortunately got tangled with another rider and had me finish the race in 7th which me out of the final.

Now with some nicer weather, and daylight savings quickly coming will give me a lots of time to pull things back into place. USA BMX Grand Nationals are approximately 9 weeks away, and I will be ready to take on the best riders America has to offer.