Saturday, June 30, 2012

Untamed New England - pre-race

(Photos by Andreas Strand and Vladimir Bukalo)

I recently raced with Team Calleva at the 4-day expedition adventure race, Untamed New England.  It was held in Maine, and I was excited to have a chance to explore such a beautiful state and meet some new friends and teammates.  John came along to watch, as the race was unsupported and the rules were very clear that no one (except other racers) was allowed to help teams out.  We enjoyed some really nice weather, and even though I trained for (and packed for) chillingly cold and wet conditions, the resulting experience was much better than anticipated.

After crewing at the Death Race in Vermont the previous weekend, we made our way across New Hampshire (Hi Mount Washington!) and into the wilds of Maine.  Via Mexico and Peru...

The "event of note" was an attempt at fixing my front bike tire.  We have been struggling with this wheel and the tubeless system for a while, and somewhere along the line one of the shops drilled out the valve stem hole to make it bigger (?) which has resulted in endless frustration with rim strips and leaks that won't seal up.  After The Longest Day, Dima strongly suggested that we put knobbier tires on the bike, so we settled for a new set of the semislicks of the same type I was already using.  Ever since taking the old one off, we have not been able to get the new one to seat on the rim and hold.

We stopped at the Northern Lights bike shop in Farmington Maine, where the nicest bike guy helped us work on it.  He retaped the rim and set up the tire with the right pressure.  It seemed to actually seat on the rim, and we thought everything was good.  Just as John was putting his seat belt on to back out of the parking lot, there was loud "BAM!!" and we sat in stunned silence for a couple seconds.

It turned out the tire had blown off the rim.  Twisted rubber.  Stans splatter everywhere.  What a frickin' mess.  I was not in the best of moods at that moment.

We're still not sure what was wrong with that tire.  Meanwhile, the bike guy found another 29" semislick tire we could purchase, and he set it up again for us.  No problems this time (thank you, Mr Bike Man!).  But he was more cautious with the pressure on this one, and the tire never really got seated.  So the tire kept leaking slowly and that evening John eventually gave up and stuck a tube in it.  Lots of work, not much to show, but at least the rim is now taped up nice and pretty.

We were just amazed at the timing - and so thankful that it happened in the bike shop parking lot when we could do something about it quickly.  Hard to imagine losing a tire like that while in the race, that would have been pretty rough.  Other teams had some serious bike issues and managed to overcome them (one team ended up renting a bike at Sugarloaf to finish the race).  We were very lucky to get through the course with no mechanical problems.

So that's the long back story!  The race is long too, so I'll write a few posts to cover it all eventually.  My brain fog has finally lifted after sleeping many hours this past week, and I'm ready to roll.  After I relax a bit more and maybe do some yoga  :)

Our pre-race photo at The Forks lodge (race check-in and finish line), with Druce, Dima, and Val:

Catching up with friends (Helena, Vanessa, Gabe, and Raymund) on one of the two Texas teams - Howdy y'all!!

We met Team GOALS at The Longest Day and enjoyed meeting them again several times in this race, fun folks and good racers:

Dima's photographer friend Vlad took some amazing photos all over the course.  Here is Druce with his pre-race game face:

Val getting ready to board the bus:

The rest of the pre-race stuff was standard - check-in, pre-race meeting, get maps, work on maps for a while, try to sleep, eat breakfast, finish packing the gear boxes, put bikes and gear on trucks, get on the bus... ready to go!

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