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Keeping the Monsters in Check

So hurrah May 9th, it’s so cold, damp and foggy I’ve accidentally moved back to England. Perfect. I point the car south for Monsters of the Midway.  I’m doing the masters 35+/45+/55+ Cat 1,2,3 - a mouthful that means the best of the old fu(n)ckers.

Toe the line and it’s a decent field of about 40. I notice the service area is a bunch of peoples own wheels chucked in the median - no neutral support. I also recall my spare wheels sitting in the car…

A slow start, these guys have been round the block a few times. This block probably. No rush and crash, it just slowly relentlessly speeds up to ballbreakingly fast, with plenty of digs at the front, and immaculate 2 wide cornering. I chase one attack down and realise this, on top of the pace, and I’m in the red zone, resolving to rest up in the pack. Yet soon I’m second wheel to a scarlet fire rider who is pulling us around, he tires and moves offline but I’m not ready for another turn so I follow him wagging my elbow. At that moment there’s a deflating feeling from my back wheel.

To paraphrase Andres’ Hillsboro report, this race has turned into bad sex, a lot of excitement, then a big explosion and it’s all over too quick. But wait, it might not be a limp departure, I roll up the median on my flat tire and the USAC official asks if I have a spare wheel. ‘Yeah over there in my trunk’, ‘Go get it quick then’.

I leave the bike and run in cleats 100+ yards over grass and streets, pop the trunk, grab both spare wheels and run back. A Formula 1 speed wheel change and somehow I’m ready before the racers come around again, I’m cued up to go, held as a lead group of 4 go by, then pushed off into the pack.

It’s times like this I realise I must really love bike racing. Despite the cold and wet and bullshit of the monsters course with its cracks and holes there’s nowhere I’d rather be at this moment, working through the snaking pack as they attempt to chase down the lead group.

Before I know it, it’s two to go. I have something left to move up a bit, but the lead 4 are away for good. No point doing anything heroic. I’m still dithering on the last lap. On the back straight I go up the inside following a wheel, he tucks into a half gap and I can either continue forward to the front or hold behind him. I hold. Why I don’t know, but I’m round the last two turns in good shape but too far back, and the sprint is from the corner.

I wind up speed well and take two riders but no more.  I’m relieved and delighted to finish at all. On the line I’m P8, but in this bag of cats and ages I’m also 2nd cat3 and 4th 45+. Wahey, 2 points for that entirely theoretical 3-2 upgrade.

-Bevan Brookfield

A Barry-Roubaix Flat How-to

Below is a summary of the flat clinic I held at the aid station during Barry-Roubaix 2015. Not an auspicious result for me, I suffered from a slow leak, tried to fix it once after Sager Rd. by topping it off with air and wishful thinking, tried again to fix it with a new tube at the aid station, and was still losing air through the finish. And I still haven't found the problem! Total time was 3:22 with moving time at 2:43 which I would have been happy with. Roads were absolutely gorgeous -- hands down the most painful fun I have ever had on gravel.


Yesterday, I led a flat clinic for three elderly gentlemen who didn't know how to fix a flat, but who were horrified at the thought of my having to fix it all by myself and without gloves in the freezing cold. Topics covered included:

1. How to retrieve tire levers as they go flying off your rim and spoke because your stupid Challenge tire is stuck so hard to your dumb A23 asymmetrical rear wheel and because a photographer with a tripod is taking pictures of your flat clinic and making you seriously self-conscious;
2. Why a Phillips head screwdriver is NOT a good idea even though I know y'all have been watching me try to pry this tire off for ten minutes now with these pathetic and unconvincing plastic tire levers;
(At this point, the gentlemen unanimously commandeered my wheel, but only after I convinced them not to use the screwdriver on it -- however, that wheel will never be true again so I'm not really sure why I cared so much other than the principle of it)
3. Why, yes, talcum powder IS a good idea and would have eliminated the herculean struggle we are all now engaged in as we wrestle the tube out of the tire it sealed itself to like a cat sticking to its crate at the vet;
4. Why it's NOT time efficient to take both beads off the rims (did I mention this wheel is asymmetrical?);
5. How to lay the tube into the tire flat even though the gentleman to the right of you is putting his part of the tube in upside down. And how upside down to you is right side up to him;
6. Alternative positions in which to change a flat other than four people standing in a circle holding up the wheel all together;
7. How to inflate a tire to 40psi by inflating it to at least 80psi a minimum of 5 times while one of us is yelling STOP! each time and feeling like a jerk for it.

Fixing my flat brought a whole community together. Afterwards, the gentlemen offered me water and a sandwich, we shook hands, and I finished my race. And now it is a beautiful memory.

Katie Casey