Sunday, August 5, 2007

Using your skills...

This evening as we were sitting in church, I was reflecting on my day. I came to appreciate what I had done earlier in the day...

We woke up VERY early this morning to head to San Marcos for Jack's Generic Triathlon. Since I wasn't racing, I planned to go for a bike ride pre-race and just help out however needed while Paul raced. Before I headed out on the bike the guys in charge asked me to help with bike SAG. This consists of changing tires for people, doing minor bike repair, and getting help quickly if something happens on the bike course....first and foremost it is safety, but really it is mostly a catering service :)

I went for a fantastic hour bike ride on the course, and then changed and got ready for my duty. First thing was to give Paul his split from the few people infront of him. He would be finished and hanging out by time I finished my job. I took off and not 800meters from the transition area did I come up to a guy with a flat. I asked, "Do you have everything you need?" He said, "I have no idea, I have never done this before." I hopped out of the car, took his tire off, and changed it. Off he went. Then I drove maybe 200meters more, and there was a guy sitting at the top of the first climb. I pulled over and went over to him. "Are you ok?" He said he was light-headed from the climb. I helped him pour water on his head and cooldown a bit. Then a girl came riding up to me. "I think I might have a flat." I felt her tire...and she said. "Or maybe I didn't air it up this morning." I grabbed my pump and pumped up her tires which were both extremely low. Off she went, and the guy got up and headed on his way, as well.

I continued on down the road...pumping up many tires (about 5 more), and changed 2 more. Although I must admit that the next two were actually prepared, and just accepted my help for speed-sake. I finally got onto the main road I was supposed to be keeping an eye on. As I got to the end of the road I came up to a guy who had very nice race wheels on and had a flat. I asked if he had a spare. He said, "It's a sprint race. I figured if I flatted I would just quit." As we were discussing this matter, the lone wheelchair athlete came over to me and said he had a flat. He did...there was a wire sticking out from his tire. He walked me through what needed to be done to remove his tire: prop up the chair and take the wheel off. Well I wasn't really prepared for this... Without much deep thought I went back to the car and got our cooler. It was the perfect prop. I took his wheel off and started to remove the tube. I didn't have a spare for him, either did he, and I didn't have a patch. What I found was tape in the car and figured I would just tape the tube, and follow him to make sure he could continue safely. In the meantime, the other SAG approached and they had a spare for the chair. We got him all set and on his way. (I will give him a ton of credit in that he did have a cellphone, and immediately called his family that was waiting in transition just in case they needed to help)

After a few more people to help, I headed back to help serve up food and socialize. It was really a ton of fun.

Anyway, my point...
I am by no means a cyclist. BUT, before I even spent much time cycling I learned about taking care of my bike and changing flats. In my first long distance duathlon I got 3 flats and only had to stop after the 3rd because I had run out of spares. During a 1/2 Ironman it was just pouring buckets and I got a flat on my race wheel. Again, I changed it (with a little help) because I was carrying a spare. Yes, it took time but I just thought that was part of the deal. And finally, to brag on my husband, during a sprint tri last year he got a flat on the bike, changed it, and still won the race. Now, of course, that is not normal...but he never would have not changed a flat during a race.

Now as I do ultramarathons, I feel the same applies. As I am packing my drop bags, and advice I have always been given is to prepare for what can happen. (Better to have and not need, then need and not have) Yes, you may have a perfect day and not need any of that stuff...but chances are you are going to wish and want whatever it is to solve a token issue that arises. It is in that detailed preparation you can calmly face whatever comes your way.

I was so happy to be able to help so many people today, but it was fun to reflect on different skills people choose to have before endeavoring on an adventure. I'll leave it as a good opportunity for me to enhance my tire changing skills...just call me the pit crew!
mer

6 comments:

JohnF said...

Thanks for volunteering.

I think I saw the guy with the nice race wheels walking his bike near the half-way point. Long way to walk, easier to carry a spare tube.

I am afraid to admit, I was almost one of these cyclists. After inflating my tires in the parking lot, I was getting my gear out of the car when, for no obvious reason, I hear a "pop, swishhhhhhh.." from the tire. That is when I realized I forgot to stop at the bike shop to replenish my spares, so I used my only spare tube before the race. The tube failed at the valve so I couldn't patch it. Spent the whole ride in fear I would hit something and flat out without a spare.

Glenda said...

Very cool for volunteering, and especially helping out the wheelchair guy! I was out there at the start of the run course, pointing people which way to go. I was surprised to see quite a few people late in the race that really seemed to have gotten in over their heads- starting the run looking like they really shouldn't be going on. Not sure if it was just an extra tough day or a few first timers that weren't as prepared as they thought they were.

Eudemus said...

I'm with you on having the skills. I am by no means mechanically inclined, but I definitely learned to fix/maintain my bike when I used to ride. In fact, part of the reason I quit riding is that I don't have the time for all the maintenance and prep work I used to do. Going into a race unprepared is not my idea of good planning. I have certainly carried this over to ultras as I always have way more in my drop bag than needed. It definitely payed off at TRT recently as my extra pair of shoes saved another runners day!

Gordon said...

Thanks for helping out. I enjoyed the burger...

clea said...

I don't even know what a derailer is......plus, I wouldn't want all that bike grease on my hands. I will stick to ultras and my Dove facial wipes in my drop bag...:)

David said...

You were thinking about this during church? Bad Catholic, straight to confession and no communion for you!!