Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Exploding Gear Bag of Race Day

A stinking frog pond of Lycra, denim and North Face lily pads filled my Toyota 4-Runner from dash to tailgate. On top lay a film of tools, water bottles and helmets. Yeah, we had 5 people in the truck, but I said pack light. They abided. Each person only had a single backpack or bag. I was the only one with a cooler bag. On the way down, there was plenty of room so we packed in spare wheels, a bike stand, a pump and even two camp chairs. It was organized and tidy, everything had its place. Aside from the bikes on the roof, you would never guess that five people were traveling in the same car. Someone even commented how roomy it was in the back.

Now, the gear was two feet deep in my truck. About 45 minutes before my race, I stopped back at the truck to grab a water bottle and I had to reach through the window or risk a waterfall of stinky chamois cascading out the door. Nate apologized that his helmet had rolled off the passenger seat mountain and into the valley under the steering wheel. Like a trailside cairn, a pair of shoes and a tub of chamois butter sat on top of my small cooler bag. A multi tool in three pieces now sat atop Mt. Nate. The back seat looked in as much disarray as the clearance T-shirt bin at Wal-Mart, if Wal-Mart carried North Face and Verge gear.

Harry, a teammate, calls it the exploding gear bag. This post was his idea. I’ve seen his truck midway through a race day and you would’ve thought he crammed 4 guys in his old pick up, but Harry usually travels solo. He too will swear, but in an Appalachian drawl, that he reckons he only packed one bag, a spare set of wheels, a small cooler, a trainer and a thermos of red beans and rice. Somehow the bed of his truck and inside of his cab looked like he got divorced the morning of the race.

It doesn’t seem to matter how organized the people in the car are at home or in their career. Harry’s an electrician by trade. I’ve seen his work van and the organization of tools in the back would make Bob Villa jealous. Of the people in my car, Amanda’s a journalist, Jake’s an engineer, Brian’s a pilot, Nate’s a salesperson and I’m a creative radio production dork. The only common thread is that we’re all cyclists and we all seem to handle race prep the same methodological way. You arrive. You sign in. You scout the course. You eat a bit. You tweak the bike. You pin on you number. You warm up. You down a Gu. You race. The seemly disorganized pile of gear is simply a byproduct of racing.

I guess racing is a sport of needs. There’s not a whole lot of giving. Bike needs lube. I need to register. I got to take a crap before I put on the skinsuit. Aside, from the occasional help given to a teammate to pin on a number or quickly change a warm-up flat, if it doesn’t directly have an impact on the outcome of the race, it can wait. And so, from the tool box, the wheel bag, the backpack, and the cooler…the debris from the exploding gear bag flows through the car.

1 comment:

nickleonard said...

haha. this is so true. my jeep will look the same after a race if its just me or 4 other in the car. the stuff just expands!!!