Everyone knows that you’re not supposed to race in anything new. Right? No new shoes race day. No new clothes race day. No new energy drinks race day.
But, how about changes to your bike? Fixing a noisy wheel or a flat tire? Well, you have to fix the flat before you race, right? Sure, you can’t race on a flat tire. But, the rule still applies. Have you ever changed a flat during a ride and the next morning the tires flat again? It happens to us all.
Last week I was having problems with my rear wheel. It was making strange noises. I brought it into the local bike shop to have them look at it and figure out what was wrong. I switched to my training wheel and rode all week on it. Friday night I stopped by the LBS and picked up the wheel. They had tightened the spokes and trued the wheel, checked the bearings and the noise problem was gone.
I went to the race on Saturday morning. I did a brief warm-up on the bike and everything seemed fine. The noise was gone. The race starts – it was a biathlon (duathlon). My run went better than I had expected, I was running a faster pace than I had all year. I get on the bike and head out of transition. Everything seems to be fine. I get up to speed and shift to my big chain ring. I’m cruising along just fine. The first few hills get my heart rate up and then the down hills come. This was what I was waiting for!
I shift into a bigger gear and start really moving. 40 mph! The bike course is a two loop course. There are hills in the beginning and the end of the loop. The middle is mostly downhill. I’m passing people and feeling good. I’ve totally forgotten about the wheel problems from the beginning of the week.
I round a corner and head up the biggest hill on the course. I’m working really hard. I crest the top of the hill and can see the end of the first loop. I’m feeling good and start to accelerate again after the hill.
Thump, thump, thump, thump. What’s that sound? BAM!!!!
I know that sound – blowout! I get off the bike. The rear wheel isn’t spinning freely. Because of the thumping that preceded the blowout and the fact that the wheel wasn’t spinning freely I either I popped a spoke or a spoke poked through the inner tube. I get off the road and look. The wheel is still true, there are no loose spokes.
Then I see the problem: about 12 inches of the tire is off the rim! The blow out forced the tire off the rim. Still unsure of what caused the problem and because the little old lady with the training wheels was about to pass me, I decide to drop out of the race and walk back to transition.
I learned a lesson – don’t ride with anything new or repaired in a race! I should have left my training wheels on for the race. After the race I would have had time to put the racing wheels back on and test the repair. Getting a blow out on a training ride is a pain, but at least it doesn’t ruin a good race.