RAAM From a Mechanic’s Perspective

(post by Doug)

Our goals as a crew in RAAM are to keep Joan safe and to get her to the finish line.  In order to accomplish this, we have to get Joan’s bicycles to the finish line as well.    I have worked as a professional bicycle mechanic at REI for 12 years, and will be joining Joan and the crew in Durango tomorrow evening.  Here is an insight into the technical strategy that we have prepared for Joan’s race.

On the course, Joan has 3 bikes available for her to ride; two Specialized Rubys and one Trek Madone.    Hopefully we can keep Joan on her “number one” bike (her red Specialized Ruby that is in most of her pictures) but if necessary, she has 2 backups.   We also have an “ER” style toolbox— a tool kit for critical situations where a real fix is needed quick.   Finally, with us we have a moderate selection of common parts that may wear or fail such as tires, tubes, and chains, and also a few specialized (yet critical) harder to find parts.

One of our main worries was the hard to find parts.  It is easy to get a chain or a tire at a bike shop anywhere along the course because common parts are easy to come by.  Our concern was for the less common or proprietary parts that could potentially take days or weeks to special order.  Special ordering a part is not an option in RAAM.

Her spokes and her derailleur hanger are a particular worry for us. Joan is running a wheelset that takes a less common type of spoke that may not be available at some bike shops.   Joan and Mike special-ordered a few spare spokes from the manufacturer before the race so that in the unlikely event of a spoke failure, we will still be able to fix her wheels on the road.

Another potentially hard to find bicycle part is called a derailleur hanger. The derailleur hanger secures the rear derailleur to the frame of the bicycle, and without it, the bicycle will not operate.   Derailleur hangers can be easily damaged if the bike is bumped in the wrong way or simply tips over at a rest stop.  Luckily, it is a very simple fix- if you have the part!    There are hundreds if not thousands of different derailleur hangers made, and they are very specific to the bicycle make and model.  Joan and Mike special ordered four spare derailleur hangers before the race, and we also have these on hand just in case one of them get damaged.

Joan is riding very high quality bicycles with high quality parts.   We are prepared for the worst, but with the quality equipment and the preparation beforehand, we are very confident that these bikes (and Joan) will be running smoothly all the way to Annapolis!

Joan is amazing, has awesome bikes, a killer crew, and I can’t wait to join Joan and the crew tomorrow in Durango!


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4 Responses to RAAM From a Mechanic’s Perspective

  1. Mark Mc says:

    What setup does she have for gearing? Different bike for flats, moutains?
    Is she running compact cranks?

  2. Bob Bihler says:

    Hi Doug,

    Glad you are there to support her….I was wondering what one does in terms of spare bikes and spare parts; 4 spare derailleur hangers, well there’s one part I would have left behind (and here’s hoping you end replacing zero derailleur hangers).

    Good luck. Bob

  3. doug says:

    Sorry for the long delay in the response,

    She is running triples on all 3 bikes, and the gearing is on her red Ruby is 30-39-53 on the cranks and an 11-28 cassette. So far, the red Ruby all that she has ridden and it has been working great for her! Her white Ruby also has a 30-39-53 front but has a 12-27 cassette. I think this is the cassette that the bike came with and was not a strategic decision. Her Trek Madone has an older crank that is 30-42-52 and a cassette that is also a 12-27.

  4. doug says:

    Also, so far we have needed zero derailleur hangers! :)

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