Wednesday, June 2, 2010

TOOLS R4 FOOLS: What Slogan is on Your Mohican 100 Jersey?

I could’ve ridden the last two Mohican 100 races without any tool, tubes or air.  Coulda…woulda…shoulda.  Besides helping a teammate with a broken chain, I personally didn’t need to bring an extra 800 pound boat anchor chain pin.  Does that mean I should leave the tools at the cabin and save the weight this year?  Yep.  If I were a complete dufus.  Contrary to what you may think, I am not a complete dufus, only a bike crazed dufus with devil horns.  My rule for Mohican is that the weight of the tools I carry should not weigh more than the poop I take the morning before the race.  So, I am strapping an entire steel IF 29er frameset to a 100oz Camelback this year.  

Really, I am bringing the same fix-it supplies to Mohican this year as I brought last year, albeit with one change.  Instead of a 2nd 40oz CO2 air can, I’m bringing a small pump that’s about equal weight.  (bike packed as pictured above) I figure if I get a 2nd flat, my goal will be too far gone at that point and I’ll be just hoping for a decent finish.  I know I’m not the only racer comparing the weights of air cartridges and pumps and the benefits of each.  We all consider the problem probabilities.  The most common mechanical you’ll likely encounter is a flat tire.  The 2nd most common is a broken chain.  The third would be some kind of readjustment to your equipment, like tweaking your handlebars after a mishap.  The 4th would be some sort of catastrophic failure of a major component like your derailleur hanger or left leg.   So is it one tube or two?  Two air cartridges or one and a pump?  I personally know a guy who brings a replacement rear derailleur, simply because he’s an idiot, I mean, determined to finish.  Before you even consider what to pack you need to ask yourself one question:

Which slogan would you have embroidered on the back of your Mohican jersey?
 “Tools R4 Fools”  
“Cooking Up an Excuse”
“Gimmie My Pint”
“Don’t Worry, I Packed a Light”

You’re going to finish in the top “x” or bust.  You agree with the statement: “I’m completely prepared to DNF if things don’t go my way.”  You say “foo” instead of “fool.”  Many pro’s race this way.  Less talk that way.  Maybe the entry fee didn’t come out of your pocket.  Maybe you nabbed close to a top ten last year (cough Marty) and your buddies (cough me) think you have a real shot at a podium this year.  It’s up to you, but considering that a flat is the most common issue riders have you might want to carry 1 lightweight air cartridge/chuck so that in the event of a flat you might be able to shoot in enough air and hope the tire sealant can help you hold your position to the finish.  The really good riders can do this without getting off their bike.  Sometimes just waving the CO2 can above your head and threatening the tire can convince it to seal.  Lance tried this unsuccessfully at Leadville.  You might one-up him and actually figure out how to inflate a tire with CO2 before the race.  Regardless, the 4-5 minutes it might take to drop in a tube would put you so far behind your goal that it wouldn’t be worth finishing.  In this case, your best option is to flag a ride back to the venue, toss your gear in your car and discreetly leave before the first rider crosses the finish line.  Many pros do this.  You don’t need a computer because you plan on being within sight of the leaders.
Tools: 1 lightweight air chuck and 40oz CO2 can…maybe

Most of my teammates are in this boat.  We have our goals, but we’re hardly good enough to tango for a podium spot against the pros at Mohican.  We’re hoping to come close, to have our name a few spots below a big name on the leader board or at least near where it was last year.  Actually the object is to take a picture of the leaderboard and have your name and the name of someone remotely famous in the same frame.  If not, we’ll do our best to finish and cook up a good story for the campfire afterward.  Unlike the pros, not finishing means you’d have to face the heckling at the after party since you carpooled up to the venue with these A-holes in the first place.  So we’ll carry enough stuff to fix the most common mechanicals without it weighing more than the result of the daily morning ritual. 
Tools from above plus:
2nd air cartridge or 1 tiny ass pump of equal weight to air cartridge (cuz you handle air cartridges like Lance Armstrong thereby giving you another chance at saving face with you’re A-hole buddies)
1 tube (it’s insurance against your entry fee)
1 Tiny ass chain tool with the few most common Allen keys to avoid bad juju
2 Shimano Spare Chain Pins (no doubt you’ll drop the first one in the dirt during your lactic acid haze)
1 Cyclo-computer (so you have a clue of when the pint glass will be in you hand, how far you might actually be behind the leaders, and statistical proof that you bombed that descent faster than your buddies)

Same as above except you fear the double flat and rationalize the extra weight of a 2nd tube by carrying the most minimalist lightweight chain tool, air chuck, pump, cyclo-computer and Allen keys possible thereby reducing the weight of your entire tool package to just slightly more than a hearty morning poo.  You then tape the tube to the underside of your stem with matching electrical tape, because only middle aged white guys can make bling out of a 50 cent roll of tape.  This is me yo.

You don’t really have a goal in mind other than going home knowing you did your best, but by God you’re going to finish before the tap on that finish line keg runs dry cuz there’s nothing worse than being handed an empty pint glass and being berated by your faster buddies who have already showered and eaten by the time you arrive.  So, you’re bringing an extra tube, an actual full-on multi tool to make sure you at least finish before they get out of the shower. 
Tools from above plus:
Another tube (because you’re THAT guy who installs new tubes and then pinch flats them 2 minutes later.)
A full-on complete Allen wrench set, screwdriver, spoke wrench and knife.  (Because if you can’t fix your bike you can at least stab yourself in the leg and cross the finish line bleeding which gives you carte blanche to fabricate the best story at the campfire after party)

You haven’t ridden further than 1.5 hours all spring, you still don’t have biker tan lines, you preregistered but foolishly you’re still determined to make it. 
Tools from above plus:
Full Swiss Army type Allen wrench set including a big 8 or 10mm for your pedals
Patch kit
Stewart Smally’s mini-book of ”Positive Thoughts”
Small bottle of lube
A section of chain
Iodine tablets or water purifier
Band-Aids, Bactine, Medical Tape
A length of duct tape
Map of Mohican Wilderness with highlighted short-cuts
An assortment of screws and washers
A spare (insert part you break most often here such as derailleur hanger, derailleur, seat post etc)
A mojo or good luck charm to dangle from your seat bag to signal to all riders that you have no business being in front of them.

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