workshop

Welcome Taylah McLennan to The Pedaler. Who is he, and why did we want him as our head mechanic?

Taylah joined our team recently to assume the role of chief mechanic for 'The Pedaler' and as team mechanic for Cobra9 Intebuild Racing.  One year on from his move from Launceston, his skills as a mechanic and attention to detail are already widely known.  Journalism student and Cobra9 Intebuild Racing team rider Tim Lofthouse sat down with Tay and got the back story on what brought him across Bass Straight.

 

photo @cyclebro

photo @cyclebro

Gaining Momentum
  
At 22 years of age, Taylah McLennan has devoted half his life to the colourful but cut-throat world that is professional road cycling. And he has no plans of changing course. 
Surrounded by an abundance of rolling hills, winding countryside lanes, and a strong cycling community before most would consider giving their children training wheels, McLennan’s fascination with bikes began on the trails, away from the dangers of Launceston’s bustling and impatient traffic. Of course, he was unaware at the time, that he was laying the foundations for an enduring relationship with cycling, which he would later find out could take away life, as quickly as it could shape it.


Transitioning to the road, Taylah rode competitively through the junior ranks, but as he neared the sharp end of the sport, and after witnessing the death of a close friend whilst on a training camp in Tasmania’s Mersey Valley, he made the decision to pursue a career as a cycling mechanic. 


“I was only 15 at the time, it was a huge reality check for me. It changed my perspective on the sport permanently. I didn’t touch the bike for 3 months.”


On the cusp of cycling’s elite, McLennan thoroughly understands how important the working condition of a bike is to its rider’s safety. Professional cyclists rely on six kilograms of carbon fibre between their legs to carry them across thousands of kilometres, often at speeds exceeding 100km per hour. Indeed, the preservation and function of that 6kg is a matter of life and death. After the incident in Tasmania, McLennan felt the onus was on him to ensure that no-one else close to him ever had to experience such a tragedy.


Although he had been working at a bike shop in Launceston for several years full-time before hand, it wasn’t until his first year riding in Under 23’s that he decided he wanted to turn the job into his profession. With the death of a close friend painfully present in his mind, and the remnants of a fire competitive cycling had left burning within him, McLennan was determined to be the best in his trade. Determined to make a difference. 


 His breakthrough opportunity came in the form of a travelling mechanic position with New Zealand professional team, Pure Black. After catching word of his talent, New Zealand bike manufacturer ‘Avanti’- which his store in Launceston sold – Tracked down McLennan for the position. “It was the first team I ever worked with…They needed a second mechanic for the Herald Sun Tour (Melbourne)… and because they were on Avanti’s’, someone put my name forward”. 


After thriving in his role with the Pure Black Team, and with the excitement that came from working alongside professional athletes, McLennan set out in pursuit of other teams who could make use of his fast-developing skills. 


Over the next six years, McLennan became an integral part of many highly-regarded cycling teams, and kept a countless number of riders safely on the road. His work has also taken him as far abroad as the Middle East, where he supported Australian team Search 2 Retain in the Tour of Iran. A typical day on tour for McLennan seems just as exhausting as riding the break-away all day – with a constant need to be attentive and focused on efficiency, no time for a lapse in concentration.


 “We would start work before the stages at about 5:30am, and then usually finish up at about 9 in the evening,” “The stages in Iran were pretty hectic… rough roads, so there were a lot of punctures, broken wheels, crashes. A lot of very hard racing.” He recalled sitting in the team car with the race directors’ muffled Arabic voices shouting race updates through the race radio, “it was an experience, not knowing what anyone was saying” “he laughs. 


Having just spent his first months away from teams in six years, McLennan is now living in Brisbane, working in Milton’s The Pedaler Cyclery. The shop also serves as a base for emerging NRS and Continental cycling team Cobra 9 Intebuild racing.  This link was a big drawcard for McLennan, who is eager to be working with a team again after a year away from tours. 
This will also add to his experience as he works towards his ultimate goal of working full-time on a European Pro Tour Team. 


Former professional cyclist and manager at The Pedaler Cyclery, Josh Prete, has first-hand experience with McLennan’s ability, and says that his expertise working in the tours brings new strength to the workshop and their growing team as well.  “His constant determination to learn and develop new skills is his biggest asset” Prete says. The two’s relationship highlights the unwavering level of respect pro and ex-pro riders like Prete have for their mechanics. 
It’s difficult not to admire Taylah’s character and dedication. All too familiar with the difficulties which pursuing such a demanding and unpredictable career entail, the way that McLennan turned such devastation into life-long motivation, not only affirms his resilience, but proves he is a compassionate young man who takes immense pride in his work. 

“If you don’t love what you do, you’re not going to stick around long, you’ve just gotta’ love it”. 

Author: Tim Lofthouse

 

Battle on the Border is getting close. Be sure to give your race rig the 'once over'.

With the annual stage race Battle on the Border less then 2 weeks away, now is the time to ensure your machine is ready to roll.  There is nothing worse than training for an event only to be let down by your equipment.  Here is a list of the crucial points worth checking.

  1. Tyre Wear - Check your tyres thoroughly for any cuts, or signs of degradation. Degradation usually shows itself by the tread of the tyre starting to crack. 
  2. Chain Wear - A stretched chain means gear slip, you don't want this. If you are running Campagnolo, and have a vernier at your disposal, it is quite easy to check your chain for wear. Count out 6 links and measure the length of the chain, if it is over 132.6mm your chain is worn. A new campag chain will measure 132.2mm.  If you do not have a specific chain checker for Shimano and Sram chains, a simple way to check wear is to shift the chain into the big ring on the front and the lowest gear on the back (ie 25 or 28t). When the chain is in this position, attempt to lift the chain off the front chain ring. There should be no give in the chain in this position.  If there is it would suggest that your chain is worn out. (Again, if you run Campy, then be sure to have it fixed and race ready before you head to remote race locations as the likelihood of finding spare parts is poor).
  3. Cassette and chain ring wear - If you have a worn chain, you may also have worn out your cassette and chain rings. The teeth on your cassette and chain rings should look slightly squared off on the top, if you notice that they are starting to look like sharks teeth then they are worn out. On the cassette an easy way to do this is look at the middle gears, and compare this to the 11 or 12 tooth cog, typically most people will be riding in the middle of their cassette for the majority of their rides, so these are the cogs that will show wear first.
  4. Cable wear - Deterioration of cables is the unseen destroyer on race day. If you are running a mechanical groupset, a fraying cable can creep up on you and suddenly snap when it is under load. It would be a good idea to completely remove your cables and check for any kinks, or frayed sections. If you have internal cables make sure you pull a sleeve through from the exit point to the entry point near the lever before removing the cables, otherwise you may spend more time than necessary trying to reroute your cables. Also be sure that your cables are not crossed inside the frame. It is amazing how easily this can happen.  It is not always obvious when cabling a bike, but the shifting will turn very bad, very quickly if you accidentally do this. When pulling cables through a frame, make sure to check that they don't pull on each other before tensioning them to the derailleur. 
  5. Brake pad wear - This is an easy one, as most brake pads have wear indicators. Make sure you have enough meat on your brake pads, and of course if you are swapping to carbon wheels chuck in your carbon specific brake pads. 
  6. Bartape - This is purely aesthetic, but getting to the start line with crisp new bar tape always makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. 

Words by: Joshua Prete
                  Wurkshop Manager

How often do I need to service my bike?

 

How often should you be servicing your bike?

 

A common question asked at bike shops is 'how often should I be servicing my bike?'. Unfortunately, there is no blanket rule, and a lot of variables influence our answer.  

 

For arguments sake lets say you are a cyclist who rides 4-5 times a week, races a crit on the weekend and has a few big goals throughout the year. Apart from a major incident, the components on your bike will wear out a pretty steady rate. This makes it difficult to know when your bike needs a service until its blatantly obvious, (e.g a cable splitting inside the lever).  

 

For the most part, the work that should be done to keep your bike in a great condition is stuff that can be done at home, so I have come up with a bit of a schedule of what you should be doing to keep your bike rolling as it did when you bought it.

 

Daily:

·         Pump up your tyres and check for cuts

·         If you have done a sweaty ergo session, hose your bike down, and get the sweat off your bars and levers. We sweat a lot in Qld, and the amount of salt that gathers under some peoples bar tape is incredible. The last thing you want is for your alloy bars to snap under you. It happens.

 

Weekly:

·         Wash your bike. Degrease the drive-train and apply some fresh lube to the chain, jockey wheels and pivot points on the derailleurs and brakes.

·         Look for any wear and tear while doing this, particularly fraying cables and gritty bottom bracket and headset bearings.

 

Monthly:

·         Check the state of your chain. Bring your bike into The Pedaler and let us measure the chain to check the wear.

·         If you have Di2, we can check for new firmware updates and make sure you have the latest software and do an error check.

 

Quarterly:

·         Degrease and re-grease the Headset and Bottom Bracket. Its good to know how much life you have left in your bearings. Spin the bearings with your finger and feel for roughness.

 

Half Year:

·         Replace Cables, chain, tyres, handlebar tape and cleats. For both safety and aesthetics.   

 

The most important aspects of this process are the first two. By keeping your bike clean and tidy you will be fixing problems before they arise. Your drive-train will last longer and you won’t be getting any corrosion on your bars and levers.

 

Obviously this can all be quite time consuming, and that’s where we step in.  We are happy to do the little jobs, and keep your bike running smoothly and looking awesome. A good quality bike deserves to be maintained, not ridden into the ground then resurrected.