An Interview with Todd Gold, the Organic Mechanic
I met Todd Gold on a cyclocross training ride last fall. He appeared to be just another guy who was younger and faster than I was as he rode me off of his wheel up a longish grind. Later on that evening as we were cooling down, I learned a bit more about him. He is the owner of “The Organic Mechanic”, providing mechanical support to race promoters. We struck a deal for him and his trailer to be at all of the ’cross races my team promoted that season. I also found out that he was offering to drive up to 80 bikes to Nationals in Bend. For a reasonable fee he would not only transport the bikes, but provide on-site mechanical support for all of his clients. Since flying with a bike, or shipping bikes to a race, is not my favorite thing to do, I was the first to sign up.
As the season progressed I saw Todd at virtually every race. Occasionally he “kitted up” to race but more often I was lucky enough to find him just in time to fix whatever the problem du jour was on my race bike. Knowing that Todd would be there to help me out kept me relaxed and focused on racing. It was a small thing, but those small things add up. He is one of the “little guys” who make up the bulk of the support that riders like me depend on to keep us mechanically sound through a long cyclocross season.
by Lee Waldman
Lee Waldman, Cyclocross Magazine: What got you into bike racing and cyclocross in particular?
Todd Gold: I started racing in the early 90s while attending Ohio State. The bike was a great form of transportation that spawned into road racing. I didn’t start racing cyclocross until a few years ago. My last competitive race season was during 2000, then I barley touched a bike until 2007. Tired of the training that accompanies road racing, I tried a few of the ’cross races recommended by a friend. I quickly learned I am horrible at it, but love the bikes, people and culture surrounding this segment of cycling.
CXM: Obviously you race less now and wrench more. Is it a challenge to watch other guys racing? How hard is it to fit in a race on a day you’re working the race at the same time?
Todd: I enjoy occasionally racing, but I use it as an educational experience. I learn how a bike needs to be set up for riders by racing – learning new tires, air pressure, brake pad choice…things that you can’t learn with a bike in a repair stand. We work on several riders’ bikes that do win on a national and regional level. I would much rather watch them win than achieve my usual 21st place!
I raced a bit last year, but by the end of the season I wasn’t racing at all. We were working on 10 bikes a weekend but, by our 10th event, we were up to 75 bikes! I should be able to catch a few races as our company is now three full-time people.
CXM: Who were / are your mentors?
Todd: My mentors were always the people I surrounded myself with that I could learn from. Teachers, riders, coaches, mechanics and friends just to name a few. I just have not met many people that couldn’t teach me something. I even learned what not to do from people that, well, weren’t so smart.
CXM: What cycling disciplines have you raced? Which is your favorite?
Todd: During 10 years of racing, I mainly focused on road events. I also raced on the track a few times, mountain bike events and, most recently, cyclocross. My favorite events to race would be criteriums, but the best events to attend are cyclocross events due to the people.
CXM: Besides the fact that you make a living wrenching, what else draws you to it and keeps you working at it?
Todd: It’s a strange dichotomy as to what we really do for a living. “The Organic Mechanic” is essentially a marketing company that utilizes bike transport, logistics, mechanical service and event management. We use these competencies to attract corporate partnerships that need to gain endurance athlete market share. “Wrenching” is a relatively small percentage of what we do, as most of our time is spent working with current and future partnerships and their representation.
We continue to build each segment of “The Organic Mechanic” due to growth. Our growth is measured by attendance at larger events, attracting larger marketing partnerships, and rider awareness of our services. In the end we are drawn to it because of the challenges it presents.
CXM: If you could be doing anything you wanted what would it be?
Todd: Operating a unicorn farm in the Rocky Mountains! Nah, probably go back to engineering.
CXM: How’s business going in this economy?
Todd: We are keeping our heads above water at this point. Our financial backing partners, Groove/Vista Subaru and Feedback Sports, have played an integral role in our success.
CXM: You see lots of bikes and lots of different equipment, what do you really like?
Todd: I have not gotten my hands on one yet, but the new 2011 Blue Norcross SL looks technically sound. With more mud clearance, a BB 30 bottom bracket and carbon drop outs it should be light – and stable!
CXM: Any favorite racing experiences?
Todd: My favorite racing experience was the 1999 National Road Race in Cincinnati Ohio. I really learned what it took to be at that level and knew I was not there nor would I ever be. I watched my teammate Kirk Albers ride away on lap 2, crash horribly on a major descent, and he continued on to finish fourth while bleeding from every conceivable part of his body. That’s the will to win I never had.
CXM: The one that you’d like to forget?
Todd: I was doing a crit at The Tour of Ohio and went over a barrier at 35 mph. I ran directly into the Mayors wife and broke my helmet on her head. We both got up and looked at each other. All I could say is, “Hey, you broke my helmet,” and kept racing.
CXM: Who are your cycling heroes?
Todd: Miguel Indurain. He kept his mouth shut and won. No doping allegations, no absurd finish line celebrations, he simply rode away from everyone during five Tours De France.
CXM: I know you’ve been to a number of ’cross nationals. What makes a good national caliber event?
Todd: A good event has a challenging course, questionable weather, easy team truck/trailer parking, and most of all the people.
CXM: What makes your job a challenge?
Todd: The biggest challenge is finding partnerships and paying events. Being at an event and working is like being on vacation. It’s all the sponsorship chasing and promoter negotiations that becomes cumbersome at times.
CXM: What makes it a joy?
Todd: The joy is easy. When we can contribute to riders’ overall chances to win, or make their racing experiences better, we have done our job.
CXM: What do you like most about working on racing bikes?
Todd: Working on bikes really isn’t all that fun, to be honest. It’s more fun to watch people have a great ride because the bike is functioning properly.
CXM: The least?
Todd: The least? The worst part about working on bikes is when I wear a new hat and adjust the bill with a greasy hand!
CXM: What do you think about having Masters Worlds in the US?
Todd: I think this is a great opportunity for the US public to witness the most exciting segment of cycling with world class athletes. It will also help to extend the US ’cross season an extra month.
CXM: How much longer do you see yourself wrenching and racing?
Todd: Racing…I would be surprised if I do more than one or two races a year anymore. As I said previously, racing helps me to learn bike setup and equipment. Wrenching – that will always be around. Bike repair, building cars, welding, fabricating…it’s just in my blood.
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