By Steve Medcroft
The new structure of the Ford Cycling women's mountain-bike team means a new opportunity for former Shimano support mechanic and Cyclingews diarist Chris Davidson. “I was with the Shimano neutral service team for eight years,” Davidson said Wednesday night from his Utah home. In that role, Davidson traveled to road and mountain bike races to provide free technical help to any Shimano-equipped athlete.
“The last four or five years, I was doing mountain-bike stuff all the time,” Davidson said. When he resigned from Shimano just before the 2005 NORBA race in Brianhead, Utah, Davidson sent a private email to friends within the industry. In reply, he got a number of job offers. Including one from the Ford Cycling team. “For a while (2002-2004), the Ford team raced on Shimano parts and since they didn't have a mechanic with them at races, we acted as their team support.” When they learned he was available, Davidson says the team members went to David Myers (Ford Cycling's Director) and asked if he could join the team.
The switch means Davidson is able to focus fully on the needs of a handful of racers instead of running a bike-shop in a tent at a major race. The new role also means Davidson has some input on the shape of the team for 2006. “I've been on board with Ford since before the NORBA season was done. I went to Interbike as a representative of the team to meet some of the new sponsors.
One of those sponsors was Scott USA, the team's 2006 bike supplier (replacing Specialized). “We're excited about working with Scott. This will be their first foray with a full mountain bike team (they sponsor solo riders like Walker Ferguson and Thomas Frischknecht, as well as road teams) and they want to be really involved with the public presentation of the team and grow their mountain-bike side.”
“We started talking seriously about the season and the team four months ago,” Davidson said. “We've had a couple of changes but with four riders this year, we're one racer stronger than last year.” With the loss of 2005 team member Jay Henry, the Ford Cycling mountain-bike team is now all female; a deliberate move says Davidson. “The genesis of the team really comes from the origins of the original program; which was formed as an all women's grassroots team. This is one of the reasons we feel so good about adding a development rider (Melanie Myers, who finished 2005 as the top woman in the NORBA Expert class). We're also taking on one of Ford's charitable missions; the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure (www.fordcares.com). All of which swings the focus to women's cycling.”
So what are the team goals for 2006? According to Davidson, “the World Cup schedule for the month of May, with three races in twenty-five days, is attractive. For that, Kelli (Emmett) will be going overseas. The rest of the team will be focused on the two North American World Cups, NORBA's and regional racing. You'll also see the team at road races.” Team camp is yet to be scheduled but, Davidson says, “the first event for us will be Sea Otter with possibly Redlands before that.”
Davidson joins team Director David Myers and will act as one of two team mechanics (the other being Chris Magerl) for Ford Cycling in 2006. He writes diaries for Cyclingnews about life as a pro mechanic. The complete Ford Cycling team roster is comprised of Kelli Emmett, Sara Bresnick-Zocchi, Kathy Sherwin and Melanie Meyers.