2016 sees our long-term team mechanic Chaz Curry move on to spannering for MS-Mondraker’s Junior World Champion Laurie Greenland.
For five years Chaz tuned our team bikes to the hilt and while we’re sad to see him go, we’re bloody stoked he landed this gig!
Words and photos by MS Mondraker Mechanic Chaz Curry
Over the coming season, Chaz will be bring us his ‘Pro Mechanic Diaries’, looking at what it takes to spanner for the World’s fastest riders, aboard the World’s fastest bikes. Wideopenmag has a solid history of helping people on their rise to the top, and in both Chaz and Laurie, we’re stoked we could play a part in their story.
Here’s Part 1 of Chaz’ diary for your delectation: New Season, New Team.
Moving on up
“After five very happy years with the Wideopenmag DH team it’s time to move on. My opportunity to take the next step up came via Laurie Greenland. His move from Trek to the MS-Racing/ Mondraker team allowed for him to bring his own mechanic and – bless him – he asked me.
As he makes the transition from Junior to Senior, Laurie joins Markus Pekoll and Danny Hart on the MS-Racing Elite team, so no pressure there then!
“It’s me that’s feeling the pressure, this is a big step for me, a big test of my abilities”
To be honest Laurie takes it all in his stride, he deals with everything with his usual even and good natured way. It’s me that’s feeling the pressure, this is a big step for me, a big test of my abilities and, more than anything, I don’t want to let Laurie down. For a top level team pre-season is crucial. Kit changes, new equipment, new people all need time to bed in. The margin for error at this level is literally nothing.
My first date with the team was Spain. Three days in Alicante doing the team photo shoot and spending time with the team’s main sponsor Mondraker, followed by our first race together in Barcelona. This was the deep end for me as I was to be the only mechanic for all three riders.
Like I said, no pressure then..!Next stop Barcelona
Fortunately, they are all good solid lads, grateful, forgiving and great fun to spend time with. More than anything it was great to re-establish my relationship with Laurie. We had met up a couple of times during the winter, but this was the first time we were due to spend any ‘proper’ time together since we worked together on Team Wideopenmag. We get on pretty well, always have and it wasn’t long before we had clicked back into a comfortable and familiar routine.
“It’s no good trying to guess what a rider is thinking, you need a dialogue”
Sure things have changed and it was both interesting and reassuring to find that Laurie has become very professional in his approach over the last two years. That really helps a mechanic. It’s no good trying to guess what a rider is thinking, you need a dialogue. The photo shoot passed off without major incident and watching the boys ride was just jaw-dropping. Next up was a six hour transfer to Barca. We slept. Despite the very Spanish driving.
In a slightly puzzling turn of weather Barcelona was actually much warmer than Alicante. The track was rough and dry as a Nun’s you know what. Dust was the biggest issue, super fine and clogging everything. This made for some long days, but Mondraker had sent some of their mechanics for neutral service so I was able to get some help.
Qualification was a real shot in the arm for Laurie and me. The transition from Junior to Senior is difficult no matter who you are. Tell you what, speed is not going to be an issue for the Bristol pinner in 2016. He was super quick.
No pressure then, right?
Laurie’s race run was different though. We thought Danny might have been sand bagging a little in quali and it turned out to be the case. Off the start ramp he was visibly quicker than everyone else and banged in to the first corner like he had something personal against it. I saw Laurie off and started to head down the hill. You could already hear that Danny had taken the lead and that was the way it stayed. Great result for the team and with everyone’s bikes staying together I could breathe a little easier as well.
“he was visibly quicker than everyone else and banged in to the first corner like he had something personal against it”
Until San Remo that was. Testing in Italy was to be the first time I was to meet and work with the other team mechanics. Now I was bricking it.
Christian is my direct boss in the team, he is also Danny’s mechanic. He is a legend and has worked with some of the greatest downhill riders to have ever turned a pedal in anger. He is a frighteningly good technician. He stripped, cleaned, repaired and re-assembled Danny’s bike in the time it took me to build a pair of wheels for Laurie. Oh God!
First day at school
Through fair means or foul, I had ended up being chief spanner chucker at Wideopenmag, now I was playing with the big boys and right back at the bottom of the pecking order. Markus’s spanner man, Mickey, is also incredible . I mean, come on, you would expect him to be really, but his easy, friendly and warm manner really belies his attention to detail and ruthless efficiency.
The first day I really did feel like I was playing catch up and that was with a head start! I just reminded myself to concentrate on what I was doing and not worry about how good the other two obviously were. We were making a lot of changes to Laurie’s bike and that demanded a lot of work.
“Some things worked, some things didn’t, but I learned just how important the process was”
By day two the changes were less drastic and by day three we had got most stuff worked out. I have never really tested a bike and set up like that before and it was really interesting and very intense. Some things worked, some things didn’t, but I learned just how important the process was.
More than anything both Laurie and I are now heading in to the first races of the year confident with his set up and knowing where we are.