Sunday, February 1, 2009

Coach's Corner: How to Not Blow Your Race

From the newsletter archives, June 2006:

How to Not Blow Your Race (on the bike)

Craig Calfee has been involved in supporting amateur and professional racers for many years. From Greg LeMond in the Tour de France to several years volunteering for neutral support at the Hawaii Ironman. Nearly all of the tips below were learned as a result of seeing technical problems develop just before or during some very important races.

Don't do anything! (just before a race)
1. Don't change any equipment without first riding it for twenty to fifty miles. (including changing the inner tube) 2. Don't use aluminum alloy bolts for front derailleur clamps, seat binders and stems. 3. Don't change your position without first riding in that position for a typical training week

Clean your bike!
1. Mainly to inspect the frame for any cracks or problems, especially the fork, the handlebars or anywhere there is a clamp. 2. Keep the drivetrain well lubricated, you'll go faster. 3. Replace rusted bolts found on aero bars. Replace any bolts that came with any older Profile product. 4. Check cleat bolts. 5. Have a competent, professional mechanic go over the bike at least a week before any big race. 6. Pay attention to creaks, cracks and groans from your bike. Have a good mechanic identify the strange sound, especially if it started recently.

If flying or shipping the bike, pack it well.
1. Don't use soft cases with fork dropout clamps. They can arrive with bent or broken dropouts. 2. Partially deflate tires. Keep some air to protect the rim. 3. Arrive at the airport early so your bike makes it on the same flight. 4. Pack your bike assuming a TSA inspector will unpack it to look for bombs. Make it easy for them to re-pack or you may find your bike and case in a large plastic bag at your destination. 5. Be nice to the counter person, a zip-loc baggie of homemade cookies can cause the bike fee to be waived. Tip the baggage handler who will take away your oversized bike box. 6. Roof racks: Careful pulling it off the rack, it could bend or snap the front dropout. Also, make sure the skewer is nice and tight before driving off.

*Assemble the bike properly after any transport*
1. Check the quick releases 2. Check tire pressure 3. Check that pedals are tight 4. Check stem and aero bar bolts 5. Check wheels are true and don't rub 6. Check saddle height (with tape measure or mark on the seat post) and tightness of seat binder bolt. 7. Test ride the bike at least a mile, running through the gears.

Race day check
1. Tire pressure (compensate for hot weather by putting about 10 pounds less pressure in your tires on a cool morning before a hot race) 2. Put the bike in the correct gear for exiting the transition area. 3. That should be all you need to worry about on race day.

During the race
1. Relax about any recent problems with the bike and focus on the race. 2. If the bike starts making strange noises, try to determine if it is serious or not. 3. If you survived a crash and you keep riding with a gouged carbon fork, you could seriously hurt yourself if the fork snaps. 4. Carry a small allen wrench set so you can possibly fix an easy problem.

Craig Calfee
Calfee Design

Check out Calfee Bicycles


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