Yesterday was the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival in Cable, WI. This was my second time to tackle the Short&Fat (15.6 mile course) and Jay's 16th time with the full meal deal - 40 miles of pain! Come race time, I was thirsty for a top 3 finish in the women's single speed....last year I finished 4th...
After such a great time up at Maplelag, I was confident that my ride was going to go well. I got to the start almost hours early and got my bike lined up only 4 rows from the front! With a long downhill paved section to begin the race, I knew I had to start in front of as many people as possible to retain decent position when we hit the dirt.
When the race finally began, everything was falling into place. I clipped in to my pedals instantly. There were 3 crashes that went down in front of me during that first mile, but I was able to safely get away from all of them. By the time we hit the dirt, I was still sittin' far up in the pack and I felt great. I started trading the lead with another single speed gal for the first mile or so, then dropped her when we started climbing in the dirt. It was great - I was eating up riders climb after climb and I'd still not broken a sweat. Feeling awesome about 2 1/2 miles in, my bike, the always fun Baloney Pony, suddenly felt wrong. I took a quick glance at my rear wheel and instantly new - I had a flat.
Without hesitation, I continued to pedal. It was too early to quit. It would do me no good to stop. And I had no way to fix it. I was running my tires tubeless for less chance of a pinch flat and, well, cuz it's awesome! So there I am - 2.5 miles into the race with no tube, no pump, no patchkit or CO2 thingy....and especially no hex wrench to even get my rear wheel off in the first place. Oh, and did I mention I really don't know how to change a flat? Ooops. There's the only problem w/ marrying my favorite bike mechanic - this is my first Mtn bike flat (second EVER), and he's always changing out my tires for me since he does it hours faster than I do. That's gonna hafta change though, since I hear these things come in threes. knock on wood
So many riders went passed me calling out to let me know about my flat - as if the exhausting difficulty of riding a single speed w/ a rear flat and all that noise hadn't yet alerted me....or what about the ENTIRE field riding by me? I remained nice and just say 'yep, thanks, I know' time and time again. Then finally I just started letting those "oh, I see a blond girl with a flat, she must not know about it" kind-of-guys know that I let the air out myself cuz I didn't think single-speedin it was enough of a challenge.
So I kept going mile after slow mile. I actually was having fun! I knew this was not enough to make me quit my first race (in the last 2+ years, I've never dropped out of a race and my goal is to never quit unless something very serious prevents me from doing so). Also, I knew this was going to not only be a rad story to brag about to Jay, but a killer workout in the process.
After such a fun and adventurous spring and summer, I know that I've had a few too many of these: hanging out with hooligans like these and only 27 days left to go before I have to fit into something like this...
So, I rode my bike without stopping. It was so sweet to see how many people did offer help. Some offered to give me a tube, others asked if I needed a pump. One guy actually had all three that he offered to leave with me - but I told him it would be quite worthless since I didn't know how to fix it. I rode every downhill on the course, and tried to make it up every climb - which felt so AMAZING when I'd pass people riding up in their granny gear. It turned out to be pretty good CX practice too - I got to work on my run-up skills when I couldn't ride up a hill, which in turn led to remount practice! Like I said, my flat didn't bum me out at all.
At the last climb before we descended into the field for the finish, I jogged as much as I could. I go t back on my bike and gave it hell - determined, at this point, to go through the entire finishing section on my bike, and to ride across the finish line... It was awesome! I could hear the people as they caught sight of my flat and the cheers rose. I heard a few people even cheering my name - thanks a ton! That was so great. I crossed the line, kissed my ring, and got off my bike to catch my breath.
I was so proud of myself....and I don't think I'd ever be able to explain how amazing that small feat really was to me. And I'll definitely never forget it - 13 miles on my flat rear wheel, on a single speed in the Short&Fat..... and the killer thing is that I tried to avoid all the rocks, so my rim is in perfect condition, and my wheel is somehow still intact as well!!! Guess I did just need a little bit of a challenge after all. Thanks, Kharma, for whatever reason it was. ;O)
Sore and happy,