April 16, 2005: T minus 12 hours
Ever since Carl brought a glimmer of sunshine into my chainsuck hell (See April 15, 2005: A day at the races), I've been itching to rip the crankset off Blue and get to filing. This morning, I jumped out of bed like a kid on Christmas, eager to heal my steed. In addition to alleviating my concern about getting chainsuck on race day, it also gave me an outlet for pre-race jitters.
But first things first. Before tackling a task I've never done before, one that I could envision spiraling out of control and taking up the entire day, I decided to first knock down some low-hanging fruit.
I installed new rear brake pads. They were not completely worn down, but I won't again make the mistake of letting brake pads get so worn down that they score my rims. This happened to me at the 2003 24 Hours of Laguna Seca, and it ruined both of my Bontrager Race rims. Plus, new brake pads can only increase my braking performance, and one of Cannonball's golden maxims is: you're only as fast as your brakes are good.
New brake pads for V-brakes are supposed to just slide into the brake shoe. They are then held in place by a cotter pin that is inserted through a hole in the top of the shoe, through a groove in the pad, and out a hole in the bottom of the shoe. For whatever reason, I can never get the pad all the way into the shoe, so the holes and the groove for the securing pin never quite line up. Thus, again today, I was forced to improvise, Cannonball style (See July 26, 2004: Bicycle maintenance, Cannonball style). Just for giggles, I lightly scuffed the front brake pads for maximum stopping power.
Surprisingly, no other repairs or new parts were needed, so I moved on to phase 2: cleaning. Using some new bike wash stuff that I picked up at the Sea Otter yesterday (based on a strong recommendation from Romulus), I cleaned Blue within an inch of her life and then meticulously lubed all critical wear and pivot points. It really is nice to have the tools, space, and time to keep the bikes clean. Makes a huge difference.
Next, I pulled off the crankset and busted out the metal file. Around the bottom bracket, where the chain gets lodged when it chainsucks, the aluminum was heavily gouged and scuffed. Using the file, I carefully filed out all the grooves and got it back to shiny, smooth metal. Carl had mentioned that this is the thickest part of the frame and I shouldn't worry about damaging the frame, so even after the gouges were gone, I kept filing. Again, Cannonball style baby.
After a while, I felt satisfied with the frame and turned my attention to filing down the chainrings. Carl suggested that I file down all the little burrs that develop on the teeth of the chainrings. The fewer points of friction or grab on the bike, the better chance I have of avoiding the chainsuck. Filing the teeth was time consuming, but I could feel the burrs with my fingers, so I knew it needed to be done.
When the filing was done, it was time to apply the silicon Carl had recommended. Problem. The directions on the silicon indicate that it takes two to four days for the silicon to fully cure. What to do? Do I put the silicon on now and take the chance that it won't be dry by tomorrow, causing a bigger problem than chainsuck by coating the chain with silicon? Or, do I not put it on and take the chance that I'll chainsuck without it?
I decided to put a spot of Silicon on JB's bike to see how quickly it dried. After a couple of hours, I tested it and found that underneath the dried skin, the majority of the silicon was still wet. I decided not to apply the silicon and throw myself upon the mercy of the cycling gods.
The bike preparation work done, I packed my bike bag and started the waiting game. As the day progressed, my nerves were building. How much should I eat today? When should I eat? Should I eat something that will make me shit? What if I can't shit and I'm carrying a ten-pound crap log around the course with me tomorrow? When should I go to bed? Will I be able to sleep? Will we have a chance to warm up properly? Will we make it to the starting line on time? Will I get squeezed out of the lines by other riders? Will I be outclassed? Will I crash? Will I get chainsuck? Will I bonk? Will I rip it up?
Yeah, I know. I'm an average rider riding in Men's 35-39 Sport class. Not exactly Lance shooting for his sixth consecutive Tour. But tomorrow is very important to me. It's so important because it is the culmination of a year's worth of hard work. Ever since I chainsucked at Angwin last year (See April 25, 2004: The Napa Valley Dirt Classic), I've been waiting for redemption. Tomorrow, I want to do well really, really badly; it means a lot to me. If I bonk, or chainsuck, or have a bad race, I'll be crushed.
As if reading my mind, Bonzai called to check in and see how I was doing. It was good to talk to him. Bonzai and Romulus are so unflappable, I don't know how they can put up with me. Maybe I'm the yang to their ying.
Bonzai helped settle me down a little bit, but I paced, and chewed my lip, and worried all night. Dutifully, I went to bed at 11:00 PM.
Will tomorrow ever come?
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