Wrenching for a cycling team

Sean Hurley checking a line of bicycles

On the tools: it's the mechanic's job to make sure the team doesn't have to worry about the bikes.

The name Sean Hurley may not mean much to the cycling community, but to a recent Australian cycling team — Genesys Wealth Advisors — made up of five riders, one director and one masseuse, Sean the mechanic’s role was to keep them on the road. They were attending the Tour de Korea (South Korea), a nine-stage, ten-day event featuring 21 teams from the USA, Middle East, Asia, New Zealand, South Africa Great Britain and Australia.

Sean has a diverse network, racing and working in the industry ten years knowing many key riders, mechanics and team directors. He worked Genesys Wealth Advisors under their previous sponsor Praties at the Herald Sun Tour in 2009, in 2010 building their team bikes. He has wrenched at the World Cup, World MTB championships events, numerous 24 hour races, the Jayco Bay Series. He’s also worked for CIOCC road team and the Fitzroy revolution MTB team.

This tour’s initial contact came from team riders highly recommending Sean for his skills and demeanour. Sean himself is no slouch on the bike who started off cycling when he realised it was quicker to ride his BMX to school than catch a bus. Progressing to MTB downhill at 14, some years later he was crowned the winner 08/09 expert national MTB series. Other credits include the Tour of Timor for Praties in 2009 supporting Ben Greeve Johnston to 2nd place overall, and Ben Mather to the winner in the King of The Mountain, finishing 2nd in teams classification, Sean managing 19th overall.

Sean has been on the podium for a few of the biggest 24 hour teams races all in just a few in short years of serious cycling. On tour a typical day started at 6:45 for breakfast. From there the non riders ensure the rooms are clear and bags are packed, ready to be at the start line at 9:00 am for a 10:00 am start. Once the race started, he is into the team car following the race with the team director.

If a rider has a mechanical problem Sean has to solve it rapidly on the road. Often this is as simple as changing a wheel, but sometimes it calls for a creative, on-the-spot solution. Once the stage is run and won, he moves straight to the hotel to wash the bikes. Once a bike is clean, it is serviced, oiling the chain and fixing any minor problems. Hopefully, this does not advance past dinner time. If it takes longer, Sean goes hungry till the job is complete. After dinner he tackles any bigger problems. Sometimes, if he’s lucky, he finishes up by 9:00pm, whilst other nights he has to burn the midnight oil. The last thing he does is repack the team car to make sure the next day will be as seamless as the last.

The thing that seems to make or break a mechanic’s day is the weather. A wet day at best makes for filthy bikes and work out running gear, at worst it means crashes, punctured tyres and broken frames. On a basic level, riders don’t have to think about their bike – one less thing to stress about. They want it smooth and sparkling when they jump on the next morning.

All of the team bikes had same group sets, but contact points (pedals, handlebars, saddle) vary for riders. There were a few different wheels, but it was all pretty standard – which is definitely appreciated!

Sean with wisdom and maturity reflected that; “a mechanic is judged less on their skills and more about how they conduct themselves. Fixing the bikes is the easy part. If you’ve got a team full of tired riders and staff, the last thing they want to see is someone being overwhelmed, defeated or not up the task. You’ve got to take all the hits on the chin and step up for another one with a smile. At the end of the day, you’ve got to travel with the team for a couple of weeks; it pays to be likeable and happy.”

The highlight for this tour for Sean was seeing South Korea from beaches to skis resorts, farms to suburbs to booming metropolis, gaining a very complete view of the nation. This experience impacted his own cycling career giving a wider network and perspective in meeting a lot of people from a lot of places, seeing firsthand the hard work and commitment to race at this level, affirming Sean contentment with his choices so far, better on the tools than bike!

Looking forward to seeing you on the road soon God willing

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