Racing 101 at the Whiskey 50 – Prescott, AZ

Every once in a while, it seems like I need to re-learn certain lessons.  It’s not necessarily that I’ve forgotten the lesson that was learned, but rather that I’ve become a bit lazy or dismissive of the value of the lesson.  It is at this moment where fate seems to step in and essentially, slap me in the head.

Club Ride Team in "Preskit"

This past weekend was a perfect example.  I headed down to Prescott, AZ with part of the Club Ride Team to partake in the Whiskey 50 MTB race.  The Whiskey 50 serves up 50 miles of sweet AZ single track in a race that draws nearly 1,000 competitors to it’s three variations (15, 25, 50 mile options).  I raced the 50 and lined up with hundreds of other racers shortly after 7 a.m. on Saturday morning.   After a quick staged gunfight between some cowboys, we got the 10 second countdown and were off.

I’ve never been a particularly fast starter and this was no exception.  Luckily, there were several miles of paved climbing to start the race, which at least allowed me to wake up a bit before we hit the single track.  Even with the drawn out start, the traffic was thick once we hit the single track and I settled in, trying to just be patient and efficient.

After topping out on the second climb and rolling through the aid station, I started down a long fireroad descent with some sharp corners and a good bit of “washboard.”  After about 1/2 mile, I heard the “hiss” of a tire quickly losing it’s contents.  I couldn’t see anything obvious that I’d hit, but it didn’t really matter; my tire was quite flat.

Here’s where the lesson comes in.  In my “scattered haste” of a packing job that I did on Wednesday prior to leaving, I managed to forget a repair tool of any kind.  Seeing as how I’m racing on a Single Speed with horizontal dropouts and axle bolts, this presented a problem.  I had managed to puncture the rear tire and the rear wheel requires an 8 mm allen wrench for removal.

I quickly realized  my fate and started walking back up the road to the aid station.  Also, because of the “set-up” that exists on my bike, I have always assumed that a flat rear tire would be the end of a race for me.  I’ve had some very “temperamental” dealings with trying to install my rear wheel and get the drivetrain properly aligned.  Anyway, I walked back to the aid station, got a tool, and fixed my flat tire.  With the flat fixed, I proceeded to attempt to re-install my rear wheel in order to at least be able to “roll”.  Much to my surprise, the rear wheel went back on and everything miraculously lined itself up without much effort from me.

With a fully repaired bike, I could now continue and at least get my 50 miles of riding in, even if I wasn’t necessarily “racing” anymore.  I finished out the ride and felt better than I was anticipating.  The terrain was great, the people were friendly, and the race was finished by noon…..what’s not to like???

Chris Leman putting the final touches on a bridge.

In the end, the race was great.  I was reminded to always carry a tool, no matter where you’re riding.  Yesterday, Mike H and I drove the CRA van a full 13 hours back to Ketchum, and today was spent working on local trails and other business that took nearly 12 hours .  Great weekend, good times, and now…..I’m exhausted!

I should have the first of my Black Cat frames here this week.  Of course, it’s going to rain/snow for the next week, so I’ll just have to stare at it for a while.  Stay tuned for pics….



~ by ketchumgreg on April 26, 2010.

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