Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Notes from watching the Kona coverage

A few quick things I found enlightening:

1. I was expecting the pros to do super high-speed bike mounts. Instead, I noticed that the leaders (the ones they showed anyways) were very deliberate when getting on their bike. Yes, shoes were in the pedals and most of them used the rubber bands, but there was no "flying" involved. So I guess I can stop thinking that my mount is soooooo slooooooow. One thing I did learn is that I should probably make getting up to full speed the first priority, then slipping on my shoes. In past races, I'll only get up to half speed before putting them on. And then I get discouraged that a bunch of people pass me.

2. My race photos (especially on the run) are always terrible. Since there are always great photos of the pros running, I assume that somehow bad photos mean that I'm a bad runner. (When I actually write that down, it seems ridiculous!) Since the FinisherPix are linked to the results, now I can see the race photos of people that I know are fast -- and they are pretty bad pictures, too!

On a related note -- my singlehanded worst race photo ever was taken at Las Vegas. If you want some comic relief, check out the photos here, especially the second one at the swim exit. I thought that was a picture of a man but realized that the stripes on the swim skin were pink. Blech.

I am currently getting back into training and working on finalizing my goals and races for next year.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

German Cycling Capstone Exercise

Now that race season is over, I'm happy to be riding my trusty Merida road bike out on the open roads again. It is so nice to have my hands on the brakes at all times, plus I feel very well balanced. So I'm been out exploring some of the bike routes along the river.

Yesterday, as I'm 30 minutes into my ride, I shift to my small chainring to anticipate the approaching intersection. I immediately hear the terrible sound of something hitting my spokes, so I quickly stop. It turns out that my chain had dropped in between the cassette and the spokes. To make matters worse, the wheel was now out of alignment and therefore could not spin. The good news was that I wasn't on the side of a road somewhere, I was close enough to civilization that I could get a cab if I needed, and the weather was fine. I eventually loosed up the brake cable to make the caliper wide enough for the wobbly wheel to spin and I slowly rode home, being extremely careful with the rear brake. I got home with no problems and finished my required time on my trainer and tri bike.

Ironically, as I am riding down the street to get home, I was passed by a German Red Cross vehicle. The road isn't very wide due to parked cars, so I was kind of miffed that they were really close and going a bit fast. But then, the car slams on the brakes and as I am going on the right to avoid it, the passenger opens the door only a few feet in front of me. I bailed onto the sidewalk, said the only German swear word I know, and made it the last 400m home.

I decided I would quickly clean off the bike before I was going to determine if I could fix the problem at home. It became evident that there is the possibility the derailleur hanger might be bent. Checking that requires a tool that I don't have, so I'd need to go to a bike shop.

Normally, I take my bike to Rad Sport Smit in Gustavsberg, but that is a long drive. I chose to go to the 4 Riders shop in the neighboring town. I had already checked them out, and they seemed like a quality shop. I loaded my bike in the car, expecting that I would have to leave it there.

I was able to explain to the mechanic my problem in German. He immediately took a look, adjusted the limit screws and then tightened the spokes until the wheel was back in alignment. (The hanger wasn't bent after all.) The whole process took about 5 minutes. And it only cost 10 EUR! This was a win-win-win situation!!

So proud of myself for being prepared, keeping my wits about me, and dealing with the entire situation quickly and without getting discouraged.

And for future reference, the phrase "my wheel is untrue" is "das rad hat einen Achter." Why isn't that in my phrasebook?