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  • 02.12.15

    Weekly Wibble: journey of disc-overy

    Mechanics up in the air preparing for disc brake disasters with clown classes and spinning seminars 

    Words
    Ian Cleverly
    Photographs
    Offside/L'Equipe

Neutral service providers to WorldTour races are to undertake additional training in preparation for the expanded use of disc brakes in the professional peloton next season following limited testing in 2015.

Race mechanics based at Mavic’s service course in Annecy have already attended juggling classes at Marcel Froufrou’s circus school in nearby Aix-les-Bains.

“Our work has become much more complicated with this new ruling,” said chief mechanic Gaston Pneu, wiping the remains of a custard pie from his face. “Currently, if a rider suffers a rear wheel puncture, I run from the car with two wheels – one Shimano and one Campagnolo. Now, I have to carry four: two for rim brakes and two for discs. Where will this madness end?”

Pneu, aged 71½, and his team undertook a week of intensive plate-spinning and juggling lessons under the tutelage of master clown Arsene Flingeur, better known as “the funniest man in Finistère”. 

Now the yellow-clad roadside assisters can, theoretically, approach a stricken rider with two wheels in one hand, one in the air and another spinning on their index finger, arriving prepared for every eventuality.

“We only had one serious injury during the training,” Pneu commented, licking the last of the custard from his whiskers. “One of the guys missed his catch and sliced open his hand on a rapidly-descending disc. It was a bloody mess, frankly.

“Oh, and we knocked off one of the trapeze artists with an overzealous throw of a Ksyrium. But she is doing fine and should be out of hospital by Christmas.”

Meanwhile, in Italy, the guys at Vittoria have been gesticulating animatedly and wondering how to tackle the rapidly approaching new season.

Questa non è stata sulla mia lista delle cose da fare,” said Giovanni Baddabingi of the tyre manufacturer’s servizio corse division.

Ho voluto passare l’inverno bevendo caffe, avendo conversazioni frenetici usando solo le mie mani, visitando la mia mamma adorante per qualche mangiate e facendo altri stereotipi Italiani esagerati, certamente non spendere settimane imparando le minuzie di questi nuovi freni. Mamma mia!”

Or “No, we are not quite ready. Blimey!” according to our team of translators here at Rouleur Towers.

UCI technical delegate Christophe Sprocket commented: “I really can’t see what everybody is moaning about. Disc brakes are brilliant. I have them on my hybrid bike and I’ve never had an accident on the three-mile commute from my lakeside villa to the headquarters here in Aigle.”

Monsieur Sprocket refused to comment when asked if he had ever raced or, indeed, ridden a racing bike. “Is that the time? Sorry, I must dash. A major bicycle manufacturer is taking me to a very nice restaurant,” he said, before ending the call abruptly.

Disc brakes for bicycles were invented by cycling pioneer Keith Bontrager in 1857 when an accident with an overheated frying pan during an expedition in the Blue Ridge Mountains led to a fortuitous discovery. [Can you please check your facts and stop using Wikipedia for research? - Ed]

STAT’S THE WAY, UH-HUH UH-HUH

6 – members on the UCI Equipment Commission

0 – number of former pro riders on the Commission

YOUTUBE THROWBACK

United Healthcare mechanic Nick Vandecauter gets his man back on the road in under 30 seconds. Smokin'

Steaming hot motorbike action from the Vuelta with the Shimano guys

"They have 100 pairs of wheels," says GCN's Simon Richardson from the back of the Movistar mechanic's truck at the Tour. Next season? Might need a bigger truck...

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