Friday, May 08, 2009

I hate corn.

How I failed at TI, by Charly Tri

A little background. This race is 320 miles of Iowa gravel. Self supported, 34 hour cutoff, 3 checkpoints.

I made the 4 hour drive down to Middle of Nowhere, IA with J-No and B.D. in the afternoon with time to spare before the prerace meeting. We stopped at "Dashboard Subs" to chow down before hand as we still had an hour left. Luckily, we had that long as I almost was able to clean them out of saltines while we waited for our subs. Meeting was cool, and then it was to the hotel with plans of waking up at 2am for the 4am start. As luck would have it I woke at 12:30am to use the restroom and could not get back to sleep, so I went to the lobby and watched the last half of Underworld with the desk clerk. Wake up time arrives, we eat, get dressed, and roll to the start at an unholy hour.

I had 3 goals with this race, but the first needed to be done to accomplish the second and then the third. The first goal was just to finish. Our cemetery start seemed a little fast as we rolled through the Iowa countryside in the dark. Dawn would arrive and there would be 20 left in the front group of the 50 starters. Everything was fine until mile 30 when I flatted the front tire. Dang it, I knew I should have topped off the tires with air. Well, got that changed and passed fellow rider Tim Ek in the same situation on my quest for the front group.

Final instructions before the start. Your handsome writer is on the left in the yellow jacket. Photo thanks to Katy, more here.

Mile 40 is the first check point and where we pick up our second set of directions. I rolled into town a 1/4 mile behind the lead group, got into the checkpoint, got my directions, and rolled onwards quickly. It seemed many where taking it easy there as only 3 of us pulled out together. That would soon become 6 as we tried to figure out the directions out of town and then 4 as the pace went up some.

Rolling into a "B" road at mile 53 I was riding with Charlie Farrow, John Gorilla, and Charlie Parsons (Yeah, 3 Charlies) in the front group. That is when "it" happened. The only possible explanation figured out so far is that I caught a corn stalk, yes a corn stalk, in the rear wheel and it won a battle with my rear deraileur. With my rear deraileur in 2 pieces I set out on making a single speed so I could still ride and finish.

The 39X20 combo seemed the best for chain tension so I rolled on with that. Only problem was the chain would not stay in one gear for more then a couple of seconds. It would drop to the smaller harder gears where there was not enough chain wrap to keep it from skipping over the teeth, or it would shift into the larger easier gears where the chain tension was EXTREMELY tight. Tight to the point it would groan heavily with each RPM. After messing around to try to get a workable gear I set out riding and listening to the groan of each pedal stroke, as it would stay in that gear. Well, I had a 9 speed chain tool with a 10 speed chain and the pin would not fully engage the back plate, so it only took a 1/4 mile for that to blow up. That was it. My race was done before it really got good.

I can count 3 things missing, how many can you find?

I headed North back to the start in Williamsburg very slowly. I had to walk most uphills as I could not put pressure on the chain without it skipping, coast down the downhills, and deal with a skipping, constantly shifting chain on the flats that broke again several times. Every 1/2 mile I would have to hop off the bike, remove the wheel, and place the chain back on a cog so that there was not so much chain tension from a large cog. There was about 40 miles of this very slow progress until a local gave me a lift the last 5 into town. I started off for the car that was still a couple of miles away when my chain broke one more time. I just walked it in from there. TI you won.
Congrats to everyone that finished, there are some great stories to be heard from those riders.

Transiowa, I have a score to settle, you better watch your ass next year.

This video was courtesy of George Vargas, 10th place finisher of Transiowa. Link to his site with other videos of other events can be found here. I can be found at 1:36 with my busted bike.

Maybe you should have read this at home when you are off the clock?


J-No said...

I'm craving some Dashboard Subs right now. What was the special sauce? I think it was Ranch, Mustard, and Mayo.

Charlie Farrow said...

You did not fail, you just had some serious bad luck...I am picking you to win it in 2010!!!
Best Regards,

4luvandlife said...

i finally got a talking to from the boss for reading you "on the clock". Still checking it out at lunch though. Thanks for the posts.