Mud in the Teeth
It’s New Year’s Day. I’m grinning ear to ear as I drive up to the ski lodge.
Although it should be only have a grin, since I won’t be skiing.
We had what looked like a great start to the ski season with a good dumping in early December. But that’s been it. Temperatures on the mountain have been in the 40’s and 50’s since. There’s patches of ice in some of the shadows, but certainly nothing that anyone with skis would even look at.
But that means the trails are open for biking. And we’re making lemonade.
You might recall that I built this bicycle myself, although the last time you saw it, it was much cleaner than this.
I’ve been using and abusing it, trying to get a feel for this bike compared to my old mountain bike. The change from 26″ to 29″ wheels is huge, especially how quickly the 29er accelerates out of turns and downhill. Not to mention how it rolls over and through the rock gardens. It’s an interesting exercise to short circuit the reasoning and accelerate through a section of large rocks; the faster, the easier it is to stay upright.
But all of this riding, through the rocks and off sweet jumps, means that my handbuilt wheels are taking a beating. I expected that. As a matter of fact, I did not use any thread-locking compound on the spokes, knowing the wheels would move out of true easier, but the lack of compound would make it easier to true them. Today was the day that the real wheel let me know that I’d been pushing it pretty well as the tire started rubbing the frame. A few adjustments and I was back on the trail. A few more rock gardens and sweet jumps and it was rubbing again. No matter. I knew I’d get home.
But my trailside adjustments got me to thinking about how many race reports I’ve read over the years where folks who had spent the better part of a year, thousands of dollars on equipment, thousands of dollars on travel, not to mention the blood, sweat and tears, only to be sidelined during a race because of a simple mechanical. Simple as in not being able to change a flat, simple as in not being able to recognize and adjust a dragging brake. It always pains me to read those reports, knowing the expense of money, time and energy to get to a long race.
What’s really odd is it isn’t always the age groupers. I’ve read more than a few race reports from pro triathletes sitting on the side of the road, waiting for neutral support, because they can’t change out a flat tubular tire. Even when they are carrying the spare.
I just don’t get it.
Most bicycle shops will hold classes on how to do basic bicycle maintenance. Nothing fancy, just the skills required to get you back on the ride, instead of hitching a ride home.
BTW, here’s a clean video of one of the local trails, Catwalk. Not much in the way of rock gardens, except for a small patch at the beginning. But it’s fast, swoopy, narrow and steep. In other words, good fun!
And by the time I get home, I have plenty of mud in my teeth too.