06 July 2010

Shakedown-breakdown

This photo sort of sums up my weekend.

Well, sort of -- first off, it was super fun. Kim and I took Kate out in the trailer on the access roads around DuPont, both on Saturday and Sunday. She's not quite ready for the downhill race scene yet (and, truthfully, was more than a little scared I think), but we all learned that a little ice cream bribe goes a looooong way ...

As for me, though, things didn't go that great.

First, I'm still nursing my ankle just a bit, so decided to do my pre-race-season shakedown rides at DuPont, which got me on the dirt but doesn't beat up the body the way Pisgah does. Good thing, too, 'cause breaking stuff at DuPont also means a lot less walking ...

This will be my third season racing for Siren Bicycles, and I continue to be amazed at the craftsmanship Brendan puts into each bike. Each year I've been able to up my game, and each year, the bikes deliver. Last year I raced primarily on a prototype Song SL: mixed-wheel softail, Ti seatstays, full XX thanks to my days at SRAM. This year my races are quite a bit burlier, so I'm opting for my straight-up Song, reserving the SL for those days when the trail is buff and I can just hammer.

I've been putting in many hours in the mountains on my Song, and though I have to pick my lines a bit more carefully on, say, Trace Ridge, I've yet to be outclimbed and can hold my own through tech sections. I have made a few changes since moving here, opting to go with 160mm brake rotors front and rear, Kenda Karma tires front and rear and going with a standard GXP bottom bracket instead of ceramic since the seals are better for the inevitable multiple water crossings each ride. Otherwise I've found my Midwest sensibilities to fit in well here, as our climbs are long but descents short, so we're on the gas all the time.

So this weekend was to be my last rides in full race mode: Red Siren Song, full XX, bling-bling wheels, carbon bits and bobs to round out the build. I spent all last week getting ready, discovering a few odds and ends that needed attention but getting them fixed by Friday. Friday's post-ride bomb down Trace went well, almost keeping up with those full-sus guys at the bottom ...

... but I paid for it on Sunday. Though it's not an SL, the bike built up fairly light, and switching X.0 for XX and putting on the race wheels made the bike feel just a bit different. So I spent some time early on in the ride getting reacquainted with a narrower Q factor and a floating sensation as I railed the berms on Ridgeline. Then I headed down to the river, and blasted through Burnt Mountain and Cedar Rock -- dang, she was flying.

And then it happened. Heading back toward Corn Mill Shoals parking, I dropped off a rock and my right foot slipped out of the pedal. Only I have new cleats, and that couldn't have happened ... I looked down to see my pedal still attached, the small nub of an axle sticking out from the spindle. Holy crud. At the furthest point from my car possible. Ouch.

Half-pedaling all the way back, I thankfully got some help from a few folks at the High Falls parking lot -- I called Kim, who was heading out with Kate, to come early and bring me other pedals. By the time I got back and ate lunch, the Ks were there to the rescue.

Sort of. I had Kim bring the pedals that were still attached to the X.O cranks -- and the drive-side pedal had melded to the crankarm. Nearly 45 minutes in the hot sun of the parking lot later, I finally broke it out, drawing blood on the palm of my hand and enlisting the help of three tour guides in the process. Ouch!

That was only the start of my mechanical problems, for as we started to ride, I noticed my front wheel was flat. What next?! Thankfully our ride was uneventful, and we really did have fun -- Kate got to see High Falls from above and far away, and she was super-cute falling asleep in the trailer on the way back.

Only then it was time to put the bike back together ... busted this, rusted that -- it seemed everything that could go wrong, did. I worked late into the afternoon before finally declaring it "done" enough to try again on Monday. Which went much better ... well, except for that backward somersault off the rock face as my brand-new cleat kept my bad foot attached to the bike ...

... but I survived. My rear wheel's bearings are toast, so I'll be running a backup, but the XX is dialed and the brakes are bled and running smooth. The Song is flying, I'm feeling good, and the racing is set to begin! Oh, wait, is that a drip coming from my fork ?!?!?! ...

1 comment:

Ben Welnak said...

I'm really digging the ti stays on my song on pretty much everything out here and I ride some pretty rough stuff.
Hey, my AD-5 has decided not to hold air on lower pressures. Basically, I have to crank it up to like 140 psi to get it to hold and now get at most 1/2" of travel. What can I do with the shock? I figured you'd be the one to ask about something Cane Creek. If you could, shoot me an email at b_welnak at yahoo