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The Paul Mach Blog - Bissell's bike guy, Ben Oliver

Living life on the edge... of the road
Photo by Pat Malach

Bissell's bike guy, Ben Oliver
Tuesday, March 23, 2010 - Interviews
The Hang over A pro team travels with a handful of staff that take care of all the details. Ben Oliver is the mechanic and equipment guy. He's up all night cleaning bikes and up most of the day in the team car.

On a recent van ride I had a chance to ask him some questions about his very important job.

PaulMach.com: So Ben, what made you want to be a mechanic?

Ben Oliver: When I was 15 I was watching a bike race, probably the Tour, and some dude was hanging out of a car fixing a bike. I realized that was actually a job you can have and it sparked the flame.

PM.C: Have you had a chance to "feed that fire?"

Ben Oliver: Yeah, I almost got fined about $1100 for hanging out of a car at Philly one year. I guess there is a rule that you have to keep half your body in the car and I must have been pushing it.

PM.C: Other than hanging out of a car, what else is in your job description?

BO: I pretty much do anything that has to do with equipment. I make sure we have enough of it, I make sure it works right and I make sure it gets to the races. But the real work is dealing with the director.

PM.C: You're at almost every race, how much time do you spend on the road?

BO: In 2008 I had one weekend at home between January and August. It's not that crazy anymore, but I did put 62000 miles on the van last year.

PM.C: Every rider has needs, but who on the team is the most needy?

BO: That's a delicate question.

PM.C: Okay, then who's the second most needy?

BO: Cool, now I can kill two questions with one last name.

PM.C: Nice. What are some of the weird things riders ask you to do?

BO: Nothing really stands out, but every rider is OCD about something. What I always find dumb is the copycat stuff. You do something for one rider, another sees it and they want it too.

PM.C: From someone who's spent a lot of time in the team car, what do you think about the radio ban?

BO: It might make the racing more interesting but stuff like getting water bottles and wheel changes will be a lot harder. We'll have to see how all that works out.

And that is Ben Oliver. Team Bissell is lucky to have him. You'll learn why when you're cleaning your own bike after a rainy stage or trying to fix it up after a crash.

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