John Sessa is one of those few guys that can mantain exacting focus when the world might be duececasting around him. This comes in handy because In Pro Cycling, the world is often as such, and it is there that Pro Mechanics save the day. John Sessa has that ability. He’s been tagged a bike-whisperer for that capability to hone in on a problem and get it fixed while grown men hold back tears of haste. Thus, today he continues to enjoy a long tenure in the sport as a certified mechanic on the Pro Tour. I recently caught up with him while his team was in Italy preparing for the Tour Mallorca 2013.
I sense they are huge. Tell me. How are your Palmares?
-I think the management and riders all appreciate our work. We are lucky that most of the staff have been together for a while and get along quite well.
The first team i worked with was Amore e Vite. They came to USA for the Atlanta Grand Prix and the Tour du Pont in 1996. That same year I worked for Cantina Tollo at the Philly race week. In 1997 I somehow was tasked to work for both of these teams at the same Philly race week. It was almost impossible but I managed to pull off washing and servicing all of the bikes. I got a buddy working as second mechanic for Saeco to agree to ride along in the Cantina car for the Philly race. My first full time gig was with Mercury starting in 1999.
I like this. It reminds me of so many tubulars. Tell me, How is preseason 2013 treating you? Hell, what is preseason these days?
The new normal these days is that a pro team will have two pre-season training camps. The first one is in December to issue new clothing and bicycles and have sort of a meet and greet camp. Riders and staff get to know one another and we sort out bike sizing and such. Then it’s back home for the holidays. The second camp is in January and it is here that the riders are really finding their form and the directeurs sportif decide which riders will go to the first race. At the moment we have just finished our second camp and are about to head to Spain for the Tour Mallorca.
Do you own a Campy Peanut butter wrench?
-Nope. Don’t really need to travel with one. But I do travel with a spoon in my toolbox. Comes in handy quite often.
Speaking of portablity, what is your schedule looking like for the year?
The team plans to compete across the globe. So we are in Mallorca now, we do Tour of Mexico in March, followed with Coppi – Bartali in Italy. We plan to do the Tour of California and the Tour of Colorado. Hopefully we will hope to do the Tour of Denmark again this year. And the year should finish up with a run of races in China.
What embrocation is best to use while washing bikes in Holland?
-Whiskey. What? Not the right answer?
That is the perfect answer. Thank you. How about coffee. Do you have your own stash?
-Man, I’m just not a coffee snob. Given the choice between S-bucks flash roasted coffee beans or nothing at all, I’m going with nothing or I’m getting a refill at a truckstop.
I’m disappointed. How much are you getting out and riding then?
-Zero. It’s like being in a rowboat in the ocean. There is water all around, but you can’t drink it. Instead I try to do some walking.
Touché! Let us continue. On your beginnings in cycling, how did it happen?
-There was an annual race in our hometown of San Antonio, FL, The Darby Road Race. For a young guy it was kind of a big deal every year. The guy who put it on also ran the local bike shop. He and some other local guys took me along on my first rides. Some years later when I was at university I applied for a part time job as a bicycle mechanic. I put down my home shop as a reference and got my foot in the door to working on bicycles. While I was still in that shop and racing with the collegiate team, I got my first opportunity to work as a part timer at some pro races. I did the Tour du Pont in 1996 and it seems like I have been hooked ever since.
I see. You are on the grand stage. What about your experience makes it worth waking up every day?
-Man it is just rewarding knowing that that you are an integral part of the team. Our skills as mechanics and our attention to detail give the riders the machine they need to do their jobs. They know they can count on us to provide them with the best equipment possible and that we have done our best to prepare that equipment. When the riders give us an atta boy or buy us a beer we know they appreciate us. When you get to share in a win, especially if you are the mechanic in the car that day, it just feels so great to be a part of that experience.
John Sessa, thank you for your time. Superissimo love this as departing, will you want to add any item?
Ah, but you neglected to ask me what my favorite tool is. I‘m really digging the Crombie lockring tool from Abbey Bike Works. Extra cool as I had mine hand delivered by Crombie himself at this past Tour CO.
Oui, and touché!! Yes, that tool is a thing I might call amazing and yet so pure. I must have. John, again, thank you for your time today. Best of luck on the season. -fin