I had a feeling, coming into this race, that I was going to have some kind of big mechanical. I don’t get that feeling very often, so I decided – employing almost no logic at all – that said mechanical would be a double flat and packed an extra tube.
The race began and nearing the end of the first piece of singletrack (which I was riding particularly badly, turns out those new brakes are quite powerful) I said to Amy Bardsley-Smith, “I’m hoping that by the end of this race, I’ll know my new bike.” About a heart beat later I got to know it very well indeed. The chain had wrapped around the crank arm three times.
It’s funny the thoughts that go through your head, sitting on the side of the track, watching the entire field go past. “What if….I was at a World Cup and I’d flown all the way over to somewhereveryfaraway to do this race?” “I’d get pulled on the 80% rule before I even started pedaling,” was the reply. New image needed. “What if…I was cycle touring, and I was in the middle of a desert, and had to fix this mess or I’d be stuck there forever?” That image worked better, but was also accompanied by visions of a pack full of interesting items including swimmers, a camera and freshly made sandwiches. This could be a long stop.
“What if…I was at the Cape Epic, and the longer I took to fix this thing (which I’d have to fix because it’s the Cape), the longer my teammate had to stand there twitching?” This image was a keeper. Several minutes later I’d learned a lot about the various ways how, and how not, to untangle a munted drive train, adjusted the gears and was back pedaling.
At this point I had a another decision to make. Flog myself and maybe, just maybe, see a charging Amy again by the finish line (unlikely), or continue with the first mission: sit back, relax and get to know the new bike. I’d been pretty tired the last fortnight so I rode without hurting and basked in the glory of fixing a mechanical that would have seen a few other people taking a walk back to the start/finish area instead.
The rest of the race was good fun and by the end of it, I was smoothing out the singletrack and riding the way I’d hoped to from the beginning. It was great to catch up with so many friends I hadn’t seen in ages and see so many other people riding so well. Missions accomplished. And two spare tubes left untouched, just how I like it.
Photos: Kath Bicknell.