I am going to make kajillions patenting a design for Mud-shield sport glasses and then sell my brilliant idea to Giro and Oakley. Those in the know at muddy races keep their glasses low on the nose to block the front wheel spray, while being able to see over the top. Plus it makes you look as cool as Tom Cruise in Risky Business (see photo). “Just take those old records off the shelf ladies!” Unless you’re a mouth breather, the problem is, on the end of your nose, your glasses are constantly in a state of cutting off part of your oxygen supply. I could make kajillions off a set of cycling shields with angled lenses solely to keep mud from getting in your eyes. It’d be perfect in conjunction with a helmet visor. Either that or I might try a fencing mask or peel away lens motocross goggles next year.
A BODY BAG IS NO EXCUSE TO DNF
There are three ways to DNF in a race: mental, physical and mechanical. No matter how hard you rationalize it, when you hang-it-up all three feel like a bad excuse you gave your parents for missing curfew. Even if they left your bike at the bottom of the ravine and carried you out of the woods in a zippered black bag and tossed you in the back of a big black Cadillac station wagon, you’d still wonder if you could come back as a ghost and finish the race. With 2 days of torrential rain, hail, flood warnings and tornados prior to and during the 2010 NUE Series Mohican MTB 100, 30% of the riders I was staying with either DNF’d or DNS’d. DFL (dead freaking last) is better than both of them. Exhaust all possibilities before telling the official you’re a DNF. You’ll never know if in the pouring rain while standing in ankle deep mud as the fat guys pass on full-suspension Diamond Back’s you could’ve pulled off the MacGruber and fixed the 7-8 inches of twisted chain on your bike with slippery fingers, those two chain pins and the 3 inch length of chain in your bag. Otherwise you’ll go home and try to make the fix to see if it was even possible. Then you’ll think of another way you could’ve saved the day, such as waiting for someone about your size to ride by, pushing them into the ravine and stealing their bike. Save yourself some misery. If you DNF’d, just let it go. Like not getting to the top of Everest, we all have our limits. You just found your personal death zone.
If it’s muddy, carry a cassette brush. Two of us in the cabin this weekend had the same revelation. I think they’re called the Park Tools GCCB-UT (Park Tools Gear Cassette Cog Brush Unclogger Thingy.) Lightweight and small it could instantly fix chain suck caused by mud and debris. I pulled an eight inch vine, grass, roots, pebbles, sand and a 2 inch stick out of my chainrings when I got back to the cabin. No wonder with every other pedal stroke my chain was getting stuck worse than Oprah in an innertube. That, a bottle of water and a tiny bottle of lube would’ve saved me from race ending chain bending chain suck. 30 seconds at the side of the trail cleaning is a lot faster than fixing broken chain or limping your way home with a twisted chain. Plus, you could brush your teeth mid-ride and ham it up for the course photog like this guy.
A BIKE RACE IS NOT A MEASURING STICK OF SELF WORTH (but it sure the hell feels that way)
Never sign up for a race and back out because conditions look bad. No matter how bad the course or weather looks, it’s a bike race, not walking into a burning building wearing a Vasoline skinsuit. A friend bailed the morning of the race, eating the $100+ entry fee and a ton of self fed crow. At the cabin, he could barely look his pristinely clean Sram XX equipped bike in the eye. As he sat on the couch, a guy in his late 30’s watching a Saturday morning episode of iCarley; his bike sat in the corner and called him a douche all day. He turned up the volume on the TV to drown out the voice in his head. He had to resort to kicking all our asses in post-race putt-putt golf to temporarily feed his competitive spirit. He probably went out for a 100 mile ride when we got back and is still sulking at this moment. He will continue to beat himself up until the next big race. Believe it or not, sitting in a warm dry cable TV equipped cozy log cabin is worse than racing the in worst imaginable conditions. Better to endure the suck and DNF trying. Later he would ask me, never let a friend back out on a race. Call them names like wuss-face and pansy pants. Tell them you just saw a one-legged cancer patient ride by on their way to the start with an IV chemo-bag as a Camelback. Throw their team kit at them and tell ‘em to suit up. Strap their helmet on their head. Fill up and put water bottles on their bike. If all else fails, take their bike to the start line and tell them, “Dude, if you want your bike, it’ll be on the starting line.” They will thank you for it.
MY NEW PACKING LIST IN ORDER OF IMPORTANCE: (copy and paste for personal use)
The really good coffee.
Seriously, because you know all they sell in Boondockville, OH is a 9 pound red metal can filled with dirt and hair from the local barbershop floor masquerading as real coffee.
Bike, Helmet, Shoes, Etc.