Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Racing - Prospect Park, 17 June 2006 - Helmet Cam

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

Okay, it's not Star Wars. Or any of its Clones.

It's an old helmet cam tape that I resurrected. Back then, when I started doing helmet cams, I wanted success, a story, something big to grab the viewer's attention. Apparently, back then, I felt that a broken spoke and a wild field sprint was... not big enough.

Once I left the clip behind, working on others instead, it aged quickly. I had the original 90 degree lens, not the 120 that I have now, so we're in the "butts and ankles" mode. In addition to that, the lens protector had a yet-to-be-discovered crack in it, causing the lower left part of the clip to be obscured by a big, fuzzy, banana-shape (I discovered it after the Prospect race and replaced it shortly thereafter).

Nonetheless the race was a good one.

As an added bonus, this is the first time I've been allowed to upload a larger-than-100 MB file. So the original file, if you select "HQ", will be some not-as-compressed version of the 268MB file I've uploaded.

That day, June 17, 2006 (more than THREE years ago! Can you believe that?) started out at Dark O'Clock, about 4 or 4:15 AM. Crazy, but to make the start an hour away, we had to be on the road by 4:45 or so. I went with a long-time teammate nicknamed Merto (to give you an idea of how long ago it was, he's now married with a newborn baby girl). We knew each other literally two decades or so, but we only started hanging out a few years ago.

He did the 4s while I did the M35+.

I'd placed in the top 10 or so the previous Prospect race, winning the field sprint handily, so I came with some expectations. I had no illusions as far as breaks went, but if it came down to a field sprint, well, I'd be there, duking it out.

The race started normally, but then...

About a half hour into the race I heard a loud "Ping!" Then a metallic flopping sound, that of a steel spoke bouncing off of a carbon fiber fork leg. One of my spokes had let go, in my front wheel.


I eased a bit, checking the wheel. The bike felt solid but I didn't know how a 15 spoke DV46 would hold up. I went to the back, not wanting to take anyone out if the wheel spontaneously collapsed.

Lap after lap the wheel seemed normal. I could climb the hill, gingerly standing after doing the thing seated for a couple laps.

The bike seemed fine.

I also let the bike accelerate down the descent. Even doing an aero tuck over the front wheel, a few descents later.

Fine again.

With two laps to go I decided to contest the finish. I moved up aggressively, getting as far as about 15th spot before going backwards on the hill. Exhausted, I almost gave up, but the ringing bell urged me on.

Although the last climb wasn't too bad, I had to ease near the top, trying to conserve some of my sprint. Luckily the pace wasn't too bad, and by the time we'd descended onto the final flat mile, I was in decent position.

Then, as I conservatively stuck to my plan (follow a guy that beat me in some recent sprint), guys kept going around him (and me). I got a bit boxed in, got leaned on really hard twice, and waited and waited for an opening.

Finally it came, and after the briefest of sprints (about 7 pedal strokes), I managed to place 7th.

I turned around immediately, praying the wheel would make it to the parking lot. The wheel made it. Ultimately I rebuilt it with DT Revolutions, lightweight round spokes with beefy ends, and I still race it today.

Merto didn't realize exactly what I'd dealt with during the race until I twanged the floppy spoke, on camera even. His exclamation was short, succint, and enough.

About two seconds later the tape ran out. Or the battery died. Either way, the tape ended.


As the saying goes, "All's well that ends well."

And to all a good night.

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