Wednesday, January 10, 2007

How To - After getting a new wheel

After the flat:
Once you get a wheel change, a friendly wheel support crew (figuring a driver and a changer) will try and help the rider. After all, it's normally not the rider's fault they flatted.

I was lucky enough to be the changer on a wheel SUV not too long ago. We had some "customers" but none wanted too much help, and on the first hill after their service, they dropped back. Drafting, unfortunately, only goes so far. It was a bummer because a lot of these customers appeared within the first 10 miles of a 60 to 100 mile race. To be knocked out of the race that early, well, it didn't seem right.

We finally got a Cat 3 who really wanted to be in the race. He flatted, waited, and we could see his teammates at the back of the field, debating whether to wait or not. I'm not sure if he waved them on but they left the very fit looking racer to his fate.

I jumped out, changed his wheel (he was very polite, no swearing or anything), and gave him a push that would make any Tour mechanic proud. The wheel SUV, piloted by a pro racer taking a day to help the promoter, rolled up to me. I jumped in and we caught the guy. The pro told me we should tow this guy up. He looked strong, he was chasing in a committed fashion, and his team seemed willing to have waited. It would be a pity to knock this guy out of the running due to a flat.

We pulled up next to him.

"Hang on," I told the guy, "We'll bring you up."
The rider looked up at us.
"Hang on, " I said again. "Really."
He reached for the window sill.
"Wait," I told him, "hold the bars by the stem. It's more stable if you're riding one handed."
He obliged and moved his right hand over towards his stem.
"Okay," I said to the driver, "Go."

We went.

We started at about 30 mph and we asked if the guy was okay. He seemed fine. A walk in the park, right?

We upped it to about 40. He looked a little wide-eyed but nodded he was okay. Usually you descend as fast as this. And a fast sprint might beat this by a bit.

We upped it again. Now we were going about 50-52 mph with what appeared to be a scared witless Cat 3 hanging on for dear life. But at least his bike was tracking straight.

"Dude, we're going over 50!"

He didn't look up. I think "abject terror" would be an appropriate description of the look on his face. He gamely held on.

We crested a slight rise and saw the officials car.

"Let go, let go." I told him.

He let go and started pedaling furiously after shifting into his top gear. We slowed to an innocent 23-24 mph and creeped up to the official's car. The racer, though, he absolutely rocketed past the startled officials. I wish I could have heard what they were saying. As it was we were trying hard not to crack up laughing. We got some suspicious looks but we just smiled back at them and took our place in the caravan.

I don't know what happened to that rider but I hope he still talks about his 50 mph tow to the field.

1 comment:

Jesse G said...

Aki - Great post. If I ever flat in the 3s I hope you are in the wheel car.

Jesse