This morning I was running on the outskirts of Augusta at about 9:30am. About a quarter mile from the end of my run, two yellow motorcycles passed me and stopped at a gas station just up the street. I ran over to the pumps and introduced myself to the motorcycle riding bike mechanics of Mavic. Mavic is a bike component manufacturer that primarily makes wheels for road and mountain bikes. They provide "neutral service support"-- meaning that they perform quick repairs to a rider's bike if they break down when one of their team cars is not nearby.
The Mavic mechanics were en route to the start of Stage 1 in Augusta. They suggested that I shower, change clothes, and meet them over at the start for a longer conversation.
I caught up with the Mavic guys about 90 minutes later. I spent a good bit of time talking to Scott Hodge, shown in the photo at the right. He told me that three Mavic service cars space themselves in the front and middle of the peloton, as well as behind the last rider on the course. The motorcycles continually shuttle back and forth amid the peloton riders, looking for mechanical problems that cannot easily be covered by a team vehicle.
Much of the work done by the Mavic motorcycle-based mechanics is quick wheel changes. They carry a number of different front and rear wheels because bikes often have different gearing. The wheels are attached to the motorcyles using a custom mounting bracket that fans the wheels out behind the second rider's seat.
The Mavic support team said that they can do a bike swap and a pedal change for a rider in under a minute, if the bike is really messed up.
Mavic rides BMW GS650s motorcycles, which Chris Zigmont said are "really maneuverable and really torquey".
One of the more interesting pieces of equipment the Mavic motorcycle riders use is motocross kidney belts. They use them mainly for support late in a stage. I believe that Paul Rinehart said that they are really helpful in the fifth and sixth hours of continuous riding.
Update: I forgot to mention that the motorbikes used by the Mavic support guys were last used in the Sea Otter Classic in California. That event ended on April 17. The bikes were trucked across the country in time for the start of the Tour de Georgia.