Team Wideopenmag – Say hello and wave goodbye

Team Wideopenmag’s Chaz Curry says goodbye to a long-standing team member and welcomes in a new one.

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photo: Jamie Edwards

The new year will see some pretty big changes for the Wideopenmag Downhill Team. One of the biggest is a changing of our mechanical guard.

We’re sad to say that team mechanic Oscar Newton-Mason is moving on and won’t be chucking spanners at the downhill team’s bikes in 2015.

Oscar first came to us via TF Tuned two seasons ago. It is always a bit daunting working with a new mechanic. The last thing you need is to be looking over your shoulder wondering if someone is doing a good job.

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Oscar (left) with Rich T and Chaz | photo: Jamie Edwards

Within two races I knew I would never have to worry about Oscar. Apart from being a suspension wizard, Oscar is one of the most ‘complete’ mechanics I have had the pleasure of working with.

Mechanics working in close proximity are like Bees. We are constantly busy, constantly moving around, using surfaces to deconstruct and reconstruct components, constantly diving in to tool boxes and parts bins. It is a highly complex and instinctive dance and very easy to upset. Indeed, plonk one technically challenged racer in to a mechanic’s work area and you will quickly see the whole thing fall apart horribly. From the word go Oscar and I never once tripped over each other. We had an instinctive understanding of where each other was, where we were going to be next and what ‘things’ we both needed to use. For any mechanic that is quite a beautiful thing. That single attribute alone shows a level of competence and understanding that is truly hard to find.

“Mechanics working in close proximity are like Bees.”

For me it has been a huge pleasure to work with Oscar. I have learned a massive amount from him and he has always backed me up. When I have been up the hill getting the team warmed up and prepared I have always known that he will sort the bikes out and get them to the start line in good time. Shit, sometimes I have left him an awful mess to sort out and even doubted that anyone could remedy the situation in time and yet like clockwork, he appeared at the top carrying a turbo trainer alongside a racer with a perfectly working bike.

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photo: Jamie Edwards

There is one memory of Oscar that will truly stand out though. Last season at Ae forest, after all the bikes were prepped for the next day, Oscar and I disappeared up the hill, beer in hand, just to get away for a bit, get a bit of space. We sat and chatted for hours, until the marauding clouds of midges got too much to bear. We talked about our lives, our upbringings and what compelled and lead us to become mechanics. For all the time we had shared and all the races we had been to, I felt that this was the first time I really met the man.

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I am very proud to count Oscar as one of my friends. We have a bond that only fellow mechanics share. I know (as he does) that wherever he or I am in the world we can pick up a phone and hear a friendly voice that will always be glad to hear us, even if all we want to do is bitch about annoying bike stuff.

Thanks for everything Oscar. It really has been a blast!

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photo: Jamie Edwards

However … every situation will present an opportunity!

So, as we wave farewell to Oscar, we welcome our new mechanic. Ryan.

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For the 2015 season Ryan Stiling will be joining us as our team mechanic, working alongside me to keep the team’s bikes running fast and smooth.

It is no understatement at all to say that Ryan Stiling is a mechanical genius. In fact it pisses me right off that he is as naturally talented as he is. Some mechanics can just look at a broken ‘thing’ and instantly know how to fix it. This is a rare talent, a wonderful talent, this is Ryan’s talent.

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photo: Ian Lean

I worked alongside Ryan for four years at The Bike Shed in Exeter and once I knew Oscar would be leaving us, there was absolutely no doubt in my mind who we should head hunt as his replacement.

Ryan does the whole ‘Bee dance’ thing. Our workshop at The Bike Shed was about the size of our team pit and we didn’t tread on each others toes once in those four years.

I’m looking forward to spending the 2015 season in the company of an old friend. Now I’m just waiting to see how long it will take before our racers suss how damn good he is and start asking for him to do their bikes instead of me! Ah well, its not like it hasn’t happened before!

Despite all the changes, some things are still true:

  • We will always be the last to bed and first up in the morning.
  • Having a good laugh will always be the fuel that our team runs on.
  • We would all happily go for a pint with any other team member.

See you at the races!

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photo: Ian Lean

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