10 questions with Topeak-Ergon team mechanic, Lars Hartwich
Ergon: How did you get your start working on bikes?
Lars: When I was 13 years old I started mountain biking, I didn’t have enough money for a mechanic’s service in a bike shop, so I started to work on bikes on my own. After finishing high school I got a professional qualification as an bike mechanic at the most popular bike shop of my home area
Ergon: How long does it take you to prep the bikes for a World Cup XC race?
Lars: There is no difference concerning time of bike prep between a World Cup, a national race or a World Championship. I do the same work! Normally it takes me 2.5 hours to finish one bike! For the racers, all races are important. The riders believe in me, trust me and I do my best – every time on every race!!!
Ergon: Favorite part of the bike to work on? Least favorite?
Lars: My favorite thing is creating a new, individual suspension setup by using different shock oil and air pressure adjustment. I also love to build wheels – building wheels is a spiritual thing 😉
Least Favorite – to change tires.
Ergon: Favorite event to go to with the team?
Lars: I don’t have a favorite… all races are very special with new adventures and different challenges! But I simply love all Races / Events!
Ergon: Which Topeak-Ergon rider requires the most attention to equipment? Why?
Lars: All the professional riders are special, having individual wishes and preferences. Of course working on a full suspension takes a little bit more time than working on a hardtail.
Ergon: Describe what race day is like for you? What is your role?
Lars: On a raceday I have a lot of jobs to do. In the Morning we move to the Expo area and prepare it for the riders to warm up, so turbo trainers and static bikes. I also prepare everything that the is needed for riders arrival later on. When the riders arrive we spend time talking about what is special for the current race and the setup which is preferred for the day. While riders are warming up on their trainers I’m working on the last race prep of bike equipment.
Then I move on to the start line – packed with tons of spare wheels, spare parts, toolbox and pumps – to pick up wind vests, arm and leg warmes of my riders, shortly before race is started. After this I have to hurry to get to the feed/technical assistance zone before riders pass through the first time. Often you can see me running like crazy through the event area to get there in time.
In Marathon or stage races I have to get by car from feed zone to feed zone. Sometimes it’s very hard to navigate and to spot the right places, but in 99% of cases it all comes together and I´m usually I get there with seconds to spare.
In this point of view stage racing and marathon racing is much more adventure-like and challenging for supporters than a World Cup XC event – even if it’s hard not to loose your driving license while stunt driving in my Ergon green colored mechanics truck.
Ergon: Do you have a nickname? Dave Wiens has mentioned “Larry” to us 🙂
Lars: I have several nicknames. The most used one is Larry. Dave Wiens christened me this after the Trans Alp challenge in a Hotel at Munich on the last evening.
He screamed “Laaaaaaaaaaaarry” with a crazy voice through the complete Hotel lounge at 1 AM. Another nickname is: “Larsi Larssen”. Friedemann Schmude, team Manager of Team Bulls, named me this.
Ergon: Number of body piercings?
Lars: Right now? 6 !? you wanna know where they are?
Ergon: Favorite music to turn the wrenches to?
Lars: I listen to electronic music in different styles
Ergon: How do you spend your free time?
Lars: In my free time I meet friends and workmates to chill out. The Ergon crew is very relaxed, so I spend a lot of time with these guys.
I also enjoy to ride my mountain and road bikes, or I´m just working on these bikes, even in my free time – I love it!
At least on one weekend a month I try to visit my former hometown, to stay at my Family and Friends to spend some time with them.