The Thin Boundary Between Casual and Deliberate

The Thin Boundary Between Casual and Deliberate

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Cycling and crashing are the kinds of things that come together whenever you liberally combine Newtonian Physics, skill, and overconfidence. In other words, I’ve been falling off my bike for nearly as long as I’ve been climbing on it.

One of the more memorable crashes of my youth involved the commute home from my high school and a lady driving into the parking lot of the local grocery store. Her car and my bicycle momentarily occupied the same space, a physical impossibility whose only opportunity for resolution lay in the boot of her car, and that’s precisely where I went looking for it. Another time, the right-front braking on my first real race bike helped me disprove the theory that I might be able to achieve sustained human flight. The resolution of this particular question also led me to learn how to re-cable the brakes on my bike and embark on my quest to perfect the wrapping of handlebar tape.

Some of these early lessons and their subsequent visits to emergency rooms and time spent nursing wounds led me to better understand where the limits lie that convert harmony between rider and machine into chaos. More importantly, it gave me an appreciation that descending and cornering at speed, while thrilling, provide limited reward with respect to the risk. Some might call this wisdom or maturity, but I like to think of it as something marginally more productive than refusing to learn from one’s mistakes.

It is the human condition, however, to become accustomed to current levels of risk and that we continue to push boundaries. We refer to this phenomenon as “progress”, and with progress comes an inherent sense of overconfidence; it is in our nature to assume that since we successfully pushed past the previous boundary, that the one that lies before us will be passed with similar ease.

It was with this confidence that I entered the first of three ninety-degree corners on lap four of yesterday’s Magnuson Park Cross race. During recon and the previous three race laps, I had recognized the risks of this first corner; leaving a fast section of tarmac, the course re-entered the mud and grass as we circumvented a tennis court. It would be easy to carry too much speed into the corner and loose traction on the flimsy, low-pressure cyclocross tires.

With each lap, the speeds increased, and with each lap, I successfully navigated the course. The riders around me were tiring, I was moving up in the field, and gaining confidence with each lap. On the section just prior to the first of the turns, I took an opportunity to pass a pack of slower riders from another category, set up for the corner, relaxed, and readied for the challenge presented by the upcoming muddy sections.

I felt it long before anything happened. It was one of those notions that enters your body somewhere between your senses and your brain and lingers there before turning sideways to make sure it’s noticed as it passes through your system. The tire in the front wheel depressed as I leaned on it – then folded over. I spent an eternity in limbo between the rider I had only just been and the rider whom I was about to become.

I aimed for the dirt, it seemed softer than the tarmac. I don’t know if I hit it or not, and I’m not sure what caused the rather deep gash under me knee, or the double-loop in my chain for which I could find no remedy at the trailside. What I do know is I was in a heap and the riders who had been enjoying my ample draft suddenly found themselves similarly on the ground, though for different reasons. Several cursed at me, one postulated that my mother had been unmarried at the time of my birth. While he may have been wrong about the specifics, he was certainly right in his sentiment: I was a fool who didn’t understand his own limitations.

It seems fitting, then, that I was the only rider I took down who failed to finish the race. Next time, I’ll aim to go just fast enough not to crash out.

// Defining Moments // Nostalgia // Racing // Technique

  1. Nate – that is one awesome Pedalwan!

  2. @TommyTubolare

    Until I heard him speaking on that video, I had no idea he was from Noord-Brabant. It’s all in how he says “goed”. The farther south you get in Dutchland, the less the language sounds like a throat condition. (My family is from the North.)

  3. @frank

    Ha,I see. To be honest though if he wins PR, really the last thing I’m gonna care is how hard his fucking ‘G’ is.The main problem is he’s got to win it first and it’s definitely going to be harder than his current ‘G’.

  4. @TommyTubolare

    Yeah, forgive my pun, but it wil be approximately as hard as the V.

    He will have his hands full, but he has a real chance. He was the only one to make real progress on Boonen’s gap during the ’12 race. Sure, he blew up after his attempt, but at least he could make headway, which is more than anyone else could say. He’s my man for the next few years.

  5. @TommyTubolare

    OK, Cap’n Tubs. Who admittedly hates CX.

    What’s the low-down on gluing tubs for CX? Local shop says three layers of glue on tires and rims and suck it up in the corners so you can get your high-priced tubbies back off and swap them out for something else throughout the season. Other people say you should use a combination of glue, Tofu tape, eye of newt and donkey jizz to keep them on, with the downside being that you can’t ever get them off again. Then there’s Belgian Tape, which I suspect no one in Belgium actually uses, but don’t quote me on that.

    Question is, how should a mortal who sucks but rides tubs on CX glue theirs on, considering we’re rolling around on a 33mm tire at 25-35 PSI?

  6. @frank

    @TommyTubolare

    OK, Cap’n Tubs. Who admittedly hates CX.

    What’s the low-down on gluing tubs for CX? Local shop says three layers of glue on tires and rims and suck it up in the corners so you can get your high-priced tubbies back off and swap them out for something else throughout the season. Other people say you should use a combination of glue, Tofu tape, eye of newt and donkey jizz to keep them on, with the downside being that you can’t ever get them off again. Then there’s Belgian Tape, which I suspect no one in Belgium actually uses, but don’t quote me on that.

    Question is, how should a mortal who sucks but rides tubs on CX glue theirs on, considering we’re rolling around on a 33mm tire at 25-35 PSI?

    belgian method. Or better yet, pay a cx mechanic. Glue,tape, glue. Experienced a rolled tubbie from an experienced rider who glued only. Lucky all i broke was a shoe and some ego. Corsa concepts has some awesome tape that they are using between the layers of glue, type of stuff that pros are rolling on at cross crusade. At a minimum, removing a cx racing tubular should require blistering effort. The shearing forces an energized, hypoxic oragutan in the off camber mud will generate on a 30psi tire is impressive. Why would you worry about anything other than surgically bonding the tire to wheel? Ah believe cyclocross mag online might have a how to as well. Or email Josh.

  7. @TommyTubolare

    @VeloVita

    If CX is your main thing than I’m sure you were sad and I understand.I have to say though the photos are awesome so thanks for sharing.

    No, road is my main thing like I’d venture to guess it is with most all of us here, but I do love me some CX as well. The best thing about following both is that there really is no off season. I get just as excited to watch the SuperPrestige, GVA Trofee and World Cup races each weekend as I do for the races of the road season. I like seeing the CX guys cross over to the road and I like to see the road guys like Steve Chainel who ride the cross races at the end of the road season.

  8. @DerHoggz@gaswepass

    I’m not trying to be disrespectful here, but I’ve read all of that shit all over the web, just like you have. Hence the question to Tommy, who specializes in riding tubs. Ask 15 people, you’ll get 7.5 opinions.

  9. @frank

    @DerHoggz, @gaswepass

    I’m not trying to be disrespectful here, but I’ve read all of that shit all over the web, just like you have. Hence the question to Tommy, who specializes in riding tubs. Ask 15 people, you’ll get 7.5 opinions.

    none taken. My point was this: a lot of promises of success borne of people anecdotally lucky. Pick someone trustworthy- i got hosed and was lucky to bot end up injured.

  10. @frank Here Franko … this is how Mike Zanconato does it as per Embrocation Magazine. Don’t use Tufo tape, not the same thing a Begian Tubby tape.

  11. The Pedalwan wadded it up on some gravel in a corner this morning.  He was a bit scraped up but is all patched up now and looking forward to getting back in the saddle.

  12. I regret linking to this video which features Portland, but the music is catchy.

    https://vimeo.com/50762424

  13. @frank

    Ideally you should match the tubular tire to the rim.For example 32 mm Vittoria tubular would fit better on a narrow rim. Tubulars above 32 mm including most of the handmades like FMB or Dugast fits better on a wider rim like Zipp 303 FC.

    It’s your decision whether you want use Belgian method or not however if I was doing the wheelset for myself I’d use only Vittoria MastikOne and 3/3 or 4/4 technique depending on a rim and on a tire.3/3 and 4/4 numbers refer to numbers of thin glue layers on tubular tire and the rim.If I had a solid rim without a spoke holes I’d use 3/3 technique and for rims with spoke holes 4/4.If you want to use the rims with spoke holes go for the wider rims as they offer more gluing surface.

    Now here Belgian method comes to play.If you have wide rim and want to use a narrower tire you might want to ‘build up’ a glue layers with a tape.You’d use Velox Jantex Belgian or similar but not the Tufo. Tufo tape is a completely different tape and I’d never recommend it.If let’s say you used Tufo tape and you want to go back to the glue method,the tape has to be completely removed and this procedure belongs to the big pain in the ass category.Belgian tape method is quicker and you use less glue.It is also recommended method if your races are in constantly wet and muddy conditions.Since CX courses are different all over the place and you have a bit of gravel,sand and mud etc.(mixed conditions and course) I don’t think this method is always necessary.If you have a lot of wheelsets with different tubulars on for different condition you will most likely use Belgian method as you can just pick up a wheelset and go.However if you intend to change the tubular tires for a different model mid CX season and you still want to use the very same tubulars later on a different wheelset for example, Belgian method is not a good choice.The bond is so strong that if you don’t have enough experience you will most likely damage and rip the tubular base tape off.Also blisters on your thumbs are inevitable and although it’s a sign of a very good glue job it’s kind of painful and uncomfortable to glue new tubulars with bleeding thumbs.Cleaning the rims is also harder when tape was used instead  of just the glue.If you get the puncture it’s the same story.

    The 4/4 gluing job is so strong when done properly that I don’t think you need anything else.The disadvantage of this method is that it takes more glue and more time as the proper curing is required between each additional glue layer to create a strong bond.Once tubulars are on if they are cottons Aquaseal is a worth addition to the sidewall.Apart from sealing and protecting properties it would make your sidewall looks awesome for longer.I don’t think you can go wrong using 4/4 method but it’s your call mate.

  14. I put this video together from today’s cyclocross race at Cascade Cross in Bellingham. It’s a two day event! Same course backwards tomorrow.

    https://vimeo.com/52768923

  15. @G’rilla

    Nice work mate.Cheers.

  16. Fourth crash today since September. The crash previous to that (which didn’t involve a mountain bike) was in 2002.

    Todays was a new one; cornering on the way into work and hit some black ice mid-corner. Peculiar feeling, that, when your bike just disappears with no warning and you’re on the ground with little to say about it.

    My Bonts took a beating; the sole is shown here. The cleat has also seen better days. Strangest was the broken buckle; I’ve never had to take my shoes off with a hole punch before.

    By the way, the sole was undamaged apart from the aesthetics, so I just glued the torn fragments back on and everything looks pretty sweet again. Buying new cleats tomorrow, then.

  17. @frank

    That is like looking at a slashed painting.  Glad a glue session sorted things.

  18. @frank

    I had exactly the same feeling the week after you were here. Bike under me, then not so much. Though your shoe seems to have suffered worse than I did. I hope the bidon (shown in top pic) survived…

  19. I sincerely hope there isn’t video surveillance in my office garage, because if there is, there are a number of security guards in a room somewhere telling each other to check out the feed at 8:15 when this douchebag comes rollin’ in on his bike wearing his tights and shit, then does a Casually Deliberate CX dismount before slipping on the cement and going down like a sack of potatoes.

    In fact, I fell so awkwardly that I somehow cut my knee on my chainring which was on the other side of the bike. Faaaaack.

  20. @frank

    I sincerely hope there isn’t video surveillance in my office garage, because if there is, there are a number of security guards in a room somewhere telling each other to check out the feed at 8:15 when this douchebag comes rollin’ in on his bike wearing his tights and shit, then does a Casually Deliberate CX dismount before slipping on the cement and going down like a sack of potatoes.

    In fact, I fell so awkwardly that I somehow cut my knee on my chainring which was on the other side of the bike. Faaaaack.

    Fuuuuuck!  Not the knee.  I hate it when anything happens to me knees b/c then I will sit aorund and perseverate about it and any little tiny twinge I start thinking, “Oh shit, there it goes again.”  Make sure to clean it well and throw some anitbiotic ointment on it.

  21. @frank

    Dont sweat it – in 1997 I broke my thumb after trying to do a casually deliberate lift of my front wheel onto a kerb travelling at about 2kmh (which I think contributed to the fall). The problem was that it was outside the front of my house in the presence of my (then) new wife and about four of her (then) 20-something friends.

    Of course I acted as though it didn’t hurt and scuttled inside – tears hidden by my dark lenses. Came out to hear the girls talking about riding, especially one who found my fall particularly funny. I tried to explain my skills to her and she mentioned that her dad and brothers ride bikes a bit. Naturally enough I knew she still needed more education so I blathered on for a while more – making plenty of inferences of how fucking fit and fast I was.

    Her brother won a Giro stage in 2000. I think that conversation helped him in some way.

  22. @Marcus The lesson is to always jump kerbs at 40km/h.

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