Racers at the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race in South Africa have their hands full with eight days of competition. So any help when it comes to taking care of their bikes is appreciated. Physical asset management company Pragma has joined forces with the race organisers to provide a host of services like bike washing, bike parking and tech zones at water points.
"After a rider crosses the finish line of any stage at the event, a Pragma crew member takes the rider's bike so that the participant can go directly to the food zone. The bike is then registered on our On Key EAMS system as it enters the bike wash area where it is carefully and thoroughly washed," said head of logistics of Pragma's Cape Epic project.
"When the bike leaves the wash area, an SMS is sent to the rider informing him or her that the bike is clean and in the Bike Park. The bikes are parked in numerical order for easy location by their riders. Our aim is to complete the entire process for each bike within two minutes. This is an incredible accomplishment considering that we handle about one thousand bikes a day!"
As in the past, the bike wash consists of seven dedicated wash bays. After being sprayed with Motorex bio-degradable non-degreaser detergent, the bikes are mounted on specially designed bike stands and then hosed down with high-pressure Bosch 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 Pragma team to contain the water and pump it away to the nearest drain. To ensure that these services are provided in an environmentally friendly fashion, environmentalists are supervising all activities.
"At the water points, Pragma creates mini service points, the pro tech and supply zones, where the riders can do some quick maintenance on their bikes," said Broden.
"The top 30 UCI-licensed pro-teams also have the opportunity to place bike spares in the provided toolboxes and replenish these on a daily basis."
He explained that the pro riders have access to pre-packed spares and wheel sets at each of the three water points, and that a groundsheet is laid out and the team spares placed on the groundsheet clearly marked with their team number. Pragma's
responsibility is limited to placing the wheels and toolboxes on the groundsheet; pro riders are required to carry out their own technical work and no mechanical support is provided.
Broden added that the supply zones give non-professional riders the opportunity to repair their bikes themselves at water points 1 and 3 on the Cape Epic route each day. "Riders can purchase the spares for their bikes at the water points with a credit card. Each water point is manned by a team leader doing manual transactions for stock purchases and a crew member to hand out the stock as requested. Manual transaction slips are handed to accounts at the race office at the end of every day."
All the costs for the Pragma services are paid for by Pragma itself, apart from the Motorex soap which is supplied by the Cape Epic organisers and high pressure washers sponsored by Bosch.
A typical day for the approximately 40 Pragma crew members and volunteers starts at around 5:00 and finish at 20:30. Apart from the challenges with providing the services, the Pragma team also have to move to five different locations during the race. Other challenges include water shortages or power failures, which the Pragma engineers always manage to overcome thanks to their expertise.
Pragma first got involved with the Cape Epic after its Managing Director Gerrie Olivier participated in the 2006 event. Pragma CEO, Adriaan Scheeres seconded Olivier and soon realised that a bike wash service would benefit all the riders at the event. "We approached the Absa Cape Epic organisers with the idea, which they approved. Since then, Pragma has diligently provided the bike wash service as a symbolic showcase of what we do best - physical asset management.
"Our clients understand our passion and our drive to ensure that they can have peace of mind about the performance of their assets, controlled maintenance budget and contained risk. We'll do the same for every rider at the Absa Cape Epic."
Pragma is sponsoring two teams this year, including Pragma Acuity MD with Olivier, and his blind tandem partner Hein Wagner.
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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews. She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.
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