Tuesday, January 09, 2007

How To - Signaling a flat tire in a road race

How to signal a flat tire or wheel problem in a road race:

Probably all of you know that you're supposed to raise your hand if you have a flat. There is that bit about which hand to raise for a front (or a rear). So the question is, how do you signal a flat in a race?

When figuring out which arm to raise, use the shifters as a guide - right-rear (remember RR), left-front. This way all you motorcyclists (typically they swap levers for brakes, except for Harleys which are reverse of the reverse...), Italians, lefties, and people from India (as a friend from India pointed out after he crashed into an office chair riding my bike around the office) can signal the same way.

Of course, if it's a front and you're about to crash, worrying about what hand to use to signal is the least of your concerns. I was in a collegiate road race in Cornell, NY when someone flatted on a 45+ mph descent. A hand went up and I thought "Oh good, he knows how to signal a flat". Then it zipped out of view, I heard the scraping of metal and ground, and the next thing I knew about 20-30 racers were sprawled all over the ground including me. Someone actually had the presence of mind to yell "Crash up!" I don't know if he made it.

If you raise *any* hand, hold your line, don't fall, and manage to filter through the pack without taking anyone out, then you've done as well as anyone would expect you to do.

Once you get to the back, raise the correct hand and see if the wheel guys see you.

For what it's worth, no matter what wheel you need, the neutral support guy will probably ask anyway. When my rear wheel ate my derailleur in a race a long time ago I stopped without really signaling but it was apparent it was a rear wheel problem since it wasn't rolling at all.

"6 or 7 speed?", the excited neutral support guy yelled as he ran toward me, holding two wheels.
"8 speed. And I need a dropout. And a derailleur." (*Note - Campy's first gen Ergo was released with too-thick inner pulley cages, resulting in many broken dropouts and derailleurs. I still have replacement thinner cages in my toolbox.)
"Oh." He turned back to the pickup truck.
"Can I at least get a ride? it's 10 miles back to the parking lot."
"Um.. ok, but you have to sit with the wheels."

It certainly beat walking back.

I sat on top of the wheels and tried not to bend the skinny ones.


Anonymous said...

Wow. 6 and 7 speed? You must be old.

GMF said...

My first real road bike was 7 speed. But that's just because Bridgestone was doing their retro-grouch thing and felt that 7 speeds were plenty even though 8 speeads had been around a couple of years already. Oh, and bar-end shifters were better than Ergo/STI, too, according to them. Loved that bike, though - it was awesome.

Aki said...

Old lol. I started racing when 6s was just starting to become common (kind of like how 10s is now). New racers don't realize my age. The ones that have been around seem to underestimate it by about 5-7 years.