Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Great Race That Never Was

They talk about how a picture is worth a thousand words. Well this one is worth at least five hundred. The other picture to make it a an even thousand would be the look on my face when the volunteers at registration said that I couldn't race.

Now I don't want to you to think that this post is about me blasting volunteers or the organizers of the race (even though I may do a little of that). It mostly is just an amalgamation of a whole string of events that led me to not being able to race.

Like most bike races, prep for me begins the day before. I make sure I have the directions to the race (If I've never been there before.). Gas in my car (Which I didn't do this time and sweated all the way home. With the needle on E most of the time.) That my bike is all tuned up and clean. Get the race wheels on the bike. Have all my clothes together. I would normally have my race number already pinned on. But because this is the first road race of the year they supply their own tyvek numbers (Which was part of the problem later.). Then I get all my during and after race food ready and packed.  Throw what I can in the trunk ahead of time and then sit there and get nervous the rest of the night. Well, most of that happened.

Except for one small thing. As I was getting ready to leave it dawned on me that I hadn't put my carbon specific brake pads on. No problem, I just popped the wheels off and switched them over. It took 5 minutes but ultimately wouldn't put me to far behind.

So after that was done. I kissed my beautiful wife good bye and hit the road. Because of the local of the race to my house I just headed south off the hill down onto River Rd. and then I was going to hop over the Independence bridge and head down to the starting area which is only about 10 miles south of the bridge.

But as I was going around a corner I noticed the car was feeling funny. And that if I let go of the steering wheel the car wanted to turn left in a very fast fashion. So I decided to pull over to check in out.

My left front tire was flat. Shit!

I looked at my watch and I saw that I still had 45 minutes before my race. I knew it was going it cut it close but I thought that I could still make it. So I whipped out the donut spare tire, jack and lever and went to work.

I got the flat tire off without to much issue. Although I was very worried about the cheesy jack they put in cars. I've had bad experience with them in the past. But to Chrysler's credit the thing held up. Twisted a little bit, but held up none the less. 

As I 'm doing each step of the process I keep looking at my watch trying to keep a mental tab on how much time I still had left. As I start lowering the jack with the donut installed it became very apparent that I didn't have enough air in the spare to safely drive on it. So thinking swiftly I whipped out my bike pump and started going to town on it. 200 pumps later (Yes I counted. I wanted to see how long it would take.) I was at a pressure I felt like I was comfortable driving on.This whole process took about 10 minutes. As I through the spare and all the other crap haphazardly into the trunk and took off.

One of the draw backs to having a donut spare is that you are not suppose to drive more than 50 miles at 50 mph on them. I was pushing both of these limits within the round trip but I figured worse come to worse I would just get another flat and have to call my wife or father-in-law to come bail my ass out. So I chanced it and got to the race with about 25 minutes to spare.

I through my race kit on, shoes, bottles in the cages, and gels in my pocket. I then ran to the bathroom and rolled up to registration with about 18 minutes before the start. As I walked up to the guy at the registration desk and said hello. I could already tell that this wasn't going to go well.

He told me that registration had closed 25 minutes before the race was to start and there wasn't anything that he could do about. When I told him that I had preregistered he looked a little grumpy, flipped through some pages and then said he needed to go talk to someone. He went over and talked to a young woman who came over and asked me for my name and OBRA race number. Told the guy to go through the list of tyvek numbers to see if the number they had connected with my name was still there.

He gave what to me seemed a very half hearted glance through and said he couldn't find it. She then told me that because it was so close to start time that the list had already been sent to the starting area and there wasn't anything that could be done about it.

I went on to explain my car tire trouble hoping that she would take sympathy on me. But it didn't work.

I asked why I couldn't be given a different number and just written in on the start list? But I think that they both had had enough of me. So I asked for my money back. Which she was quick to deliver. It's a good thing too. Because had there been an "issue" with that I was about 2 seconds away from going into a tirade that would have more than likely got me thrown out of there and off my team. But I held it together and just got out of there.

Sometimes the world is against you when your trying to make good bike race. 

Part of me wanted to yell and scream and throw a big temper tantrum out there. And the other just said it is was it is. So I listened to the latter and tried to calm down (I must be getting more mature in my old age. Cuz I can tell you for certain that I never would have done that at 20.)

As I was leaving the area I got caught behind a couple of the races and got a chance to view the beginning of everyone else's world of suffering (Just a little more salt in the wound.) All the while watching my gas gauge get closer and closer to empty (I don't seem to follow my own rules very well.).

So that's the sad little story of me not getting to race. But ever onward!

Tomorrow is a new day and I have a pretty great story about a friend's brother who is doing the Iditarod Invitational.

Rubber side down,

Big E

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