Photos and writing by Matt Eames
One of mountain biking’s classic race venues, incredible crowds, varying weather and lots of really fast people on bikes. This over-simplifies what makes the UCI Mountainbike World Championships such an incredible event.
Athletes from around the globe were selected by their national cycling governing body to represent their country. Some are supported by trade teams and personal sponsors throughout the season, but this week they ride with their national flag and colors adorning their race kit. Custom paint jobs, custom helmets and one-off gear all make this event even more special.
"For me to be selected to work as a team mechanic for USA Cycling, focusing on the downhill athletes is a huge honor."
I have had the chance to support some terrific people, not just great bike racers but great people. The staff assembled to work with and for the athletes is dedicated and driven to give them everything they need to focus on the race.
Some of the athletes and staff have relationships that go back many years were others are meeting and working together for the first time. Trying to understand what works best for each individual is a challenge. Quiet or boisterous, mechanically proficient or technically challenged; all of the athletes are not cut from the same cloth. Building a working rapport is an essential element to success.
Each year once the bikes are packed and the tools are back in the toolbox I feel a bit sad that the race week is over. High fives and hugs are distributed in copious quantities. Transportation plans are verified. And last but certainly not least the flag of The United States of America is properly folded and stored, waiting to be unveiled again at next year’s worlds.
Hope to see you in Leogang Austria for the 2020 DH Worlds!!