Our Global Logistics Manager, Sean Peotter, maintains a fleet of hundreds of bikes and thousands of spare parts divvied up among support units and warehouses all over the world. On top of that, Sean rebuilds our entire fleet every couple years! He makes it look easy, and this is his story.
I started wrenching in 1992 at Oshkosh Cyclery. It was sort of inevitable as I was the kid who spent summers hanging out in the shop, looking at all the cool bikes. It’s here that I really started to define my love of mechanics. I then moved to the Twin Cities in 1996 for college, and so began my 10-year stint at Penn Cycle. I was able to work under my brother, the store manager, and I moved up through the ranks by attending numerous industry events.
The most impressionable experience was the Shimano SLD Program. Shimano enabled employees to be transferred from the company headquarters in Japan to work in shops around the world. We were lucky enough to get Daisuke Nago. Daisuke was an engineer, directly responsible for creating many of the parts that we use on bikes today. Daisuke was with us through the winter months as he wanted to see the extreme conditions their components had to endure in the winter. There’s no better place to test extreme weather conditions than Minnesota. I was then lucky enough to attend the 2004 Shimano Mechanics SLD Summit in Florida. It was a great experience that provided an environment for mechanics from all over the US to discuss common issues and resolutions. As far as Daisuke goes, I still communicate with him today. I’m looking forward to taking my family there to meet him and his family someday.
Rising in the Ranks
I have lots of pieces of paper after being in the industry for over 20 years. Shimano, SRAM, Mavic, Trek. One of my most important, though, is my USAC Mechanics Certification. For this I spent one week at the Olympic Training Center and attended numerous classes; lots of classroom time, but also good hands on time. It’s here that you learn to understand what it is like to be a race (or ‘neutral’) mechanic. They don’t teach you mechanic skills; you need to have that base before you come. They refine your knowledge to a specific style of mechanics. It’s here that my passion for race mechanics started.
While working for Penn Cycle I was asked to provide Neutral Service for the women’s road races at the Nature Valley Grand Prix. I had never done anything like it before, and my team made it though by the skin of our teeth. We went through over 60 wheel changes in that race, resorting to changing tubes and “recycling” the racers wheels back into the mix. It was mass chaos, but I was hooked. It is from this experience that I saw the need for a proper Neutral Support company in the Twin Cities. I founded OnSupport, and through AMAZING support from Trek Bicycles I was able to provide support for any level pro cycling race in the US. OnSupport was in operation from 2005 – 2011, when I started working for Trek Travel. Actually, it is because of OnSupport that I am working for Trek Travel now.
It pays to know someone. Years ago I worked with Jon Vick back in the Twin Cities at a local Trek dealer, Penn Cycle. He thought I would be a good fit for tech support at cycling event out in California in 2009. TT was there and I guess I caught their eye because they asked me to help out at the Tour de France in 2010. Eight months later I was hired as the Global Logistics Manager. Nearly five years later and I couldn’t be happier. My favorite part of the job is training: I love teaching new guides and old guides how to work on bikes. Bike mechanics is second nature to me, and I want to share that with as many people as I can.
A Day in the Life
Let’s look back to the 2013 Tour de France in the Alps. During the third week of the race we were running 8 units, 24 guides, and 1 logistics crew (consisting of myself, our president Tania, and my pregnant wife). All together there were about 200 riders on the road at any time. I had the additional task of “Trek Travelizing” our viewing venues and making sure that operations in the US were still running smoothly. Days were 16-20 hours each, spent driving up and down various iconic mountains. I drove up and down Alp d’Huez 13 times in two days. Did I mention there is a lot of driving?
Plenty of late night drives to get bikes to certain trips before they start, needing to get up the mountain before the Gendarme close it to cars, etc. I have had many uncomfortable conversations with the Gendarme trying desperately to get through their barricade because you have day-bags for 150 guests that will be riding up that climb in the morning. I also can’t count the number of times I’ve slept in the van on the top of a mountain, or in some field at the base of Tourmalet. It’s pretty much the norm: uncomfortable sleep, no showers and cold food. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. I work in the most picturesque places of the world, and I get to make a venue look simply amazing for guests that just rode a long way to watch the greatest sporting event race by.
My logistics van is organized chaos: spare bikes, extra parts, pop up tents, water, food, beer, beer, beer, bike stands, locks, banners, flowers. You name it, I have it with me; and if I don’t have it, I’ll find it if you need it. I’m the guy in the background making sure that the chaos is never seen. I do it with a smile on my face not because I have to, but because I genuinely have it there. I love making people happy, I really do. And it isn’t all van camping. I often get to stay in some of the most luxurious hotels and chateaux that I have ever seen. It is those times that surely make up for the others. This job has taken me to places that I would have never gone and for that I am extremely grateful. It was only fitting that in one of those places, on top of Alp d’Huez, we announced my wife was pregnant.