Bike Barbie

So I’ve got a coach. I’m following a plan. And I’ve made serious progress.

I’m also as fit as I’ve ever been — and confident. Confident that I can finish, confident that I can race, confident that I am prepared.

But am I really?

I’ve long joked that I’m a Bike Barbie who has her own Ken to fix things. It’s not very egalitarian, but it’s convenient.

He handles our bike toys — sets them up and keeps them running. I only need to throw a leg across and pedal as fast as I can on race day.

But what if something goes wrong? What then?

Well I’m not helpless. I pack the requisite tools and necessary supplies just in case there’s a snafu on the trail. I know how to change a tire.

But truth be told, in seven years of riding, I’ve only changed a tire twice.  Ken was always around to change it for me.  And he always changed it faster – so, hey, why bother?

But I don’t have the Ken backup plan when racing and I sure smacked up against a tough obstacle at a recent race in the RME marathon series — Breck 68.

This wasn’t my first time at this rodeo — I’d been there twice before with increasing success.  And given my race prep, I thought I was going to race like a star.

But things went squirrely instead — a bent front rotor, multiple flats and a hard time fixing them. Then I ran out of supplies!

Trailside help came to the rescue – but then I ran through those supplies, too. More help from a passing motorist.  But after the first lap, with no supplies left and rain imminent in the high country, I called it quits.

It wasn’t all that hard. You don’t go to the high country with limited resources and almost non-existent mechanical skills in bad weather.  You just don’t. To be caught unprepared in the high country in bad weather is no laughing matter.

The risk was too high so I abandoned the race.

CB wrapping up a seasonIt was the right choice — I don’t doubt that for an instant.  But with a year-long goal disappointingly dashed, it was a hard pill to swallow, even with a splash of bubbly at race’s end and philosophizing acceptance, “well that’s racing.”

But I’m not convinced.  How did I do all of that physical prep — intervals at 5 o’clock mornings and long weekend rides and not think about what I would do if I had a mechanical?  That’s not racing.  That’s just plain stupid.

After the race, in an email to experienced, endurance racer Jill Heuckman, I joked that I’d failed my Heuckman merit badge.  She posed a challenge: “Have Ken take your bike apart,” with the understanding that I have to put it back together again.

That sounds awful — but brilliant.  Can I do it?

So Jill, I accept your challenge. I’ve just purchased Zinn & the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance by Lennard Zinn and Todd Telander as a prep, and have alerted Ken that he has my permission to dismantle my mountain bike so that I can put it back together again.

My Amazon order includes a box of white taper candles that I imagine I will need to set the tone and to keep my anxiety level down.  I joked to Ken that I might need some vino to go with the candles, to which a friend of his responded, “You must drink beer while working on bikes.”

Maybe this explains the brake failures and mechanicals that I’ve experienced recently.