Saturday, April 28, 2012

Race in the rain, again.

Looks like tomorrow's crit is going to be wet. The last couple seasons have been pretty wet early on. I don't mind racing in the wet, I just hate having to clean everything when we are done. I remember racing mountain bikes in deep mud as a kid. That was the worse. Once I used my mom's new white towels to clean my bike after a race. I don't know what I was thinking, they were in with the rags but I should have known better.

Racing in the rain is purely mental. You have to have the desire to get out and be okay with suffering more than normal. You have to have a good amount of confidence when you go through turns at full speed. My biggest worry is just going down with others that go down.

What I like to do when I think it is going to be wet is first, have the best tires I can have. Training tires don't have the grip that the best race tires have. Then I go low psi, lower than I think most like to go. I will race at about 80 psi (I am 155lbs). I often get some pretty crazed looks when I say that but I have raced at even lower (75psi) last year at Snake Alley hoping to not have any slippage going up the steep grade and red brick. The biggest problem with running tires at such a low pressure is pinch flats, where you pinch the tire and tube between an object and the rim of the wheel causing two distinct holes on either side of the inner tube. I find that the more I am able to ride near or at the front the easier it is for me to make sure I will be able to miss hazards that might cause flats.

The other technique I use to be able to take turns at a high speed is to try and straighten out the turns as much as I can. We all learned in drivers-ed that tires really only like to do one job at once, turn or lay down power. So I think of turns more as hexagonal, rather than a smooth curve with an apex. I'm not sure if this is the best technique, but it is the one that has served me best over the last few year.

If tomorrow's race is wet it is going to be tough, but that is what makes some races great. My only hope is that I, my teammates, and all the other riders get through it with the rubber down. Good luck everyone, see you in Belleville.

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