Behind the scenes at the Cape Epic: Bike cleaning

Getting more than 1000 bikes clean after each stage and storing them between stages is no simple task at the Absa Cape Epic mountain bike stage race in South Africa. Physical asset management company Pragma once again joined forces with the organisers of this year's event provide finish line services, bike washing and bike parking. Pragma is not a bike washing company, but it does have plenty of logistics experience, managing over 3.5 million physical assets globally.

"After a rider crosses the finish line of any stage at the event, a Pragma crew member takes the bike from the rider so that the participant can go directly to the food zone to collect some necessary nutrition before retiring for the rest of the day," said Chief Executive Officer of Pragma, Adriaan Scheeres.

"The bike is registered on our On Key EAMS system as it enters the bike wash area. It is carefully, yet thoroughly, washed with Motorex, an approved bio-degradable, non-decreasing soap. Upon its exit from the wash area, a SMS is sent to the rider informing him or her that the bike is clean and in the bike park."

"Pragma ensures that the numbers are sequential and that the bikes are parked in the correct locations, and aims to complete the entire process for each bike within two minutes. This is an incredible accomplishment if one keeps in mind that we do this with about one thousand bikes a day. One clean bike leaves the bike wash area every 15 seconds, four cleans bikes per minute and 240 bikes per hour. Each bike takes on average one minute and 45 seconds to wash. We use 10,000 liters of water per day and 300 liters of soap!"

As in the past, the bike wash consists of six dedicated wash bays. After being sprayed with bio-degradable non-degreaser detergent, the bikes are mounted on specially designed bike stands and then hosed down with high-pressure Kränzle washers. The stands and washers are all on a water retainer sheet to ensure that none of the polluted water runs onto the surrounding area. This enables the team to catch the water and pump it away to the nearest drain. As to ensure that these services are provided in an environmentally friendly fashion, environmentalists are supervising all activities.

Pressure washer making company Kränzle has a production facility in nearby Capetown in which they can custom-make a system for any industry requirement, such as a bike race.

Typically, a day on the event for the approximately 15 Pragma crew members and volunteers will start at around 5:00 am and finish at 6:30 pm. Apart from the challenges with providing the services, the team will also have to move to five different locations during the 2012 Cape Epic. Other challenges include water shortages or power failures, which the Pragma engineers always manage to overcome thanks to their expertise.

Pragma first became involved with the Cape Epic after its Managing Director, Gerrie Olivier, participated in the 2006 event. Scheeres seconded Olivier and soon realised that a bike wash service would benefit all the riders at the event. "We approached the Cape Epic organisers with the idea, which they soon approved. Since them, Pragma has diligently provided the bike wash service over the past couple of years as a symbolic showcase of what we do best - physical asset management," he said.

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