Monday, September 17, 2012

Not Quite the Podium, Just Too Much Pressure

   Believe it or not, based on my rugged good looks and my youthful demeanor, I get to race in the 50 plus age group in cyclocross this year.
   Those other old guys are still fast.
   Still, a sixth place in a fairly large field (35 starters?) is a pretty good result for me.
   I haven't felt fast yet this year. I know it's early in the season, and I'm totally not sweating it.
   The races now are good training and a chance to blow out the carbon from the engine.
   The funny - but not so funny - story from the weekend goes like this: After the 50 plus race in Chicago, Alyssa Severn and I rode along the lake front as a cool down. I pumped up the tires and away we went.
   When we got to Lake Geneva Sunday, I checked the pressure with the special inflator. Since it didn't add any air, I figured I was good to go.
   And I made the total rookie mistake of not squishing the tires.
   See, in cross, running tires with really low pressure helps riders carve through tight corners and puts more tread on the ground for muddy or rough surfaces.
   Typically I run 28-30 pounds of pressure.
   For the first three laps of Lake Geneva, which, by the way, was a pretty damn fun course, I couldn't drive the bike for anything. Cornering was a huge battle. Finally, by the fourth lap, I was feeling the course a little better and starting to pass all the guys who passed me when I couldn't drive.
    In a tight corner around a tree, though, my front wheel washed out, and I crashed hard on my shoulder. I initially thought I broke the collarbone again since the sharp pain was identical.
   (I went to my chiropractor today, and he diagnosed a strain and significant bruising, so nothing permanent.)
   As I walked back to the car with teammate Patrick, he started laughing about my tires. When he checked with a pressure gauge, we both started laughing even through the pain.
    51 psi.
   No wonder I washed out.
   And the comments at USGP in Sun Prairie this weekend will all be deserved.
   I'm grateful, though, that my stupid mistake did not cost me my season!

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