Additional pneumatic challenges
Today was the third stage of the Breck Epic 2012. I’ll officially stop saying I am 1.5 stages down because of my Leadville start, as I felt pretty reasonable today. Stage report, Colby – centric short version: I was in the top 10 the entire stage until I flatted, again. Forest elves undoubtedly retreated to their caves as I shouted several expletives into the wilderness at the onset of the puncture.
After riding hard for 3 hours and 15 minutes, surviving long steep ascents and not dying on goat path 25% downhills, to flat within 20 minutes of the finish is a straight-up kick in the balls.
The stakes weren’t that high for me today – my GC is done after completing Leadville and starting this race the very next day. I accept that. But it was fun to be near the front of the race for the majority of the stage, and then extremely frustrating to have it taken away at the end.
There are riders, however, who have suffered much more at the hands of fate. Two examples, which come to mind immediately, are Steve Larson at the 2000 Olympic Trials, and more recently Shelley Olds in the London Olympic road race.
Cycling is of course a mechanical sport, one in which we depend on our machines to convert our muscular energy into forward momentum. Universal laws of entropy dictate that sometimes those machines will fail us.
I must, however, make a plea to tire manufactures worldwide:
Dear tire manufacturer: Please make a tire which does it all. I don’t mean to disrespect the engineers who have put time and effort into these projects, and I’m not a tire engineer or designer, but I know you can do better. We sent a man to the moon sometime in the 70’s, I know we can make a tire that is competition weight, handles well, and does not puncture unless someone shoots it with an elephant gun. Your challenge has been issued. By me. Right now. Go forth.
The cut in my tire was only a 2mm slice, almost in the center of the tread. In spite of copious usage of tire sealant, the cut wouldn’t stay closed.
And while we’re on the topic, changing a flat trailside with a 142x12mm through axle is a complete pain in the huevos – there’s no way to do it fast or easy. Thru-axles are great, they are all rigid and stuff, but it comes at a high convenience price when you’re in a hurry to get air in your tire.
Yesterday, I forgot to mention an onus which presented itself at the stage start: just as Mike was assuring us the weather would cooperate for the day, a fox appeared in an alley about 30 meters from the start line. The critter had pointy ears, white tipped tail and a golden sable color, and seemed curious about all the commotion.
He took a good observation post on top of an SUV and watched us depart. Straight out of the movie “Hot Rod,” I took his presence as my Totem Spirit Fox for the day. Apparently foxes don’t like tires with air in them. After two flats in as many days, I’m looking forward to a (hopefully) clean run for the rest of the race, but I’m not holding my breath, because: 1. I have a really good multi-year streak going with my bike falling apart in MTB races and 2. Holding your breath during a stage race is, generally speaking, a bad idea.
One really positive experience was being passed on Georgia Pass by the leader of the singlespeed race, Brady Kappius. It was positive because he is my athlete – I’ve been coaching him for many years. I was in the top 10 (stage) at the time and seeing Brady come flying past us on a bike with one gear (given the amount of climbing we had done on the day) left me pretty floored.
Being a track racer most of my career, singlespeed racing is something I’m not sure I could ever be even remotely successful at. My (meager) riding talents gravitate towards the souplesse end of the spectrum much more than the power/strength end of the spectrum. Brady was a beast today, however, and took the lead in the SSSRWC (singlespeed stage race world championships!), a race category which was adopted by Breck Epic promoter Mike McCormack as much for its amazing acronym as it is for its bad–assedness. Brady’s closest competition is Macky Franklin, and with three more days of hard racing ahead, the war is not yet won.
Russ (Brady’s dad) and Brady, makers of the world’s coolest hubs (Kappius Components), are now leading their respective categories at the race. How cool is that?
Thanks for reading.