Sunday, May 3, 2009

Wildflower... helmet issues to bike issues

Today was a really disappointing day...just one of those days you can't control what happens, and you just gotta go with it and move on. It started off plain bad. Wildflower is a HUGE race - 3200 people in my race, top 3 get their pro card (if they don't already have it). I never knew the magnitude of this race, with 8000+ people camped out everywhere around the lake the night before. Craziness. This race was huge! It started off with no sleep in the tent all night, but that's normal before races, not a big deal. I was about to warmup before the race; I had about 50 minutes til my wave start time, and a guy at my bike racked in transition said they were going to DQ me for my aero helmet, and I should try to track down the USAT race official. What??? I was pretty confused. He pointed me to her; she'd gone through the 3200 racked bike spots, happened to come across mine and tell me my aero helmet was not legal and I couldn't race with it!! Are you kidding me??? Apparently my CSPC sticker was missing, so it was not a certified helmet. Nike joke lady! It's the Giro Advantage 2, probably the 2nd most common aero helmet in triathlon, and of course it's certified & legal. "There's no sticker. It's illegal," she said. I tried to be polite and explain about the helmet. I took off a few peeling stickers a few months ago since they were flaking clue what there were, that they'd ever be needed, or that it would come to this. I told her with her job she must know it's a legal's super popular. She knew the Giro Advantage 2 was legal.. but apparently without the sticker it's not?? It doesn't change the helmet though does it, I explained. Anyways.. she said I'd have to try to argue it with the head USAT judge. We searched for him for about 20 minutes (there were 3000 people in transition..difficult task), but finally found him. I again tried to be polite..but got fired up in a hurry. He said the same thing. Can't race with it. They literally weren't going to let me on the course with it they said. Meanwhile he was busting another kid with a Bell Meteor 2 helmet (which is illegal in USAT races), but his had the sticker! It was removed from another certified helmet and not the original. He couldn't race with it either. I tried to explain to this judge how his logic is flawed here. He knows my helmet is legal but I can't wear it b/c no sticker. He knows other kid's is illegal, no matter the sticker. So, really he's saying the sticker doesn't affect anything nor change the status of the helmet legality. The Bell helmet is an illegal helmet, that's all there is to it. I explained, so the sticker doesn't affect anything... Either the helmet is legal or it's not. So sometimes apparently the sticker is important, other times it's not? Anyone can stick that sticker from one helmet to another. That's when I blew up, told him this was absurd and USAT has no respect for it's athletes to treat them like this. I know they need to have certified helmets, but when he knows it is certified, acts like it might not be b/c a sticker is rubbed off...are you kidding me? Apparently Giro sold a version of this helmet pre-2006 in Europe that wasn't CSPC certified, he said... perfect, I still had a sticker on there saying "Giro Advantage 2 - 2007" ..he still didn' comprehend. Also, that Euro version was the Advantage, not the Advantage 2. I also had the Ad 2 sticker on the outside.. I also found another guy's idential helmet, 100% identical..nope, didn't work. Anyways, I'll stop with that. Can you tell I'm fired up! :) I then had 10 minutes til start time, hadn't done my warm-up run nor my swim. I scrambled to try to find another helmet, got the announcer on the mic (Sean, who works at a local SB bike shop) to announce if anyone had a helmet. I was freakin' out, pretty frantic, just upset about the circumstances.. That's when my MsM team came to the rescue and Reed McGinnis ended up getting a new helmet from a vendor for me to use. He's amazing! He'll do anything for anyone else, the guy is awesome. I threw on my wetsuit and headed to the lake.
The swim was ok, my arms were feeling it and legs starting to cramp a little at the end, but not too bad. I got to T1 and still was cramping a bit getting the suit off, but got the bike out and felt better and off I went up Lynch Hill. The bike starts on about a mile long crazy super STEEP hill. It rises about 800 ft in elevation I think. My bike gears were acting kinda funny, not shifting well and jumping from one to another, but I made it up. Then the stuff hit the fan again when I started to crank on the flats. I'd shift into a larger gear, and my chain kept getting thrown off into my axle and jammed in the cassette, so I'd shift out. Long story short, my gears were screwed. They got jammed 5 times and completely locked the pedals, so I had to coast without being able to pedal until I could slam on the brakes, hop off, yank the chain out and back onto the cassette. This happened about 5 times. The last time the chain got so jammed I couldn't get it unstuck from the crack. My day was done. My pedals were frozen, and I found myself watching people from the side of the road for about 10 more minutes. A motorcycle marshal came, asked him if he had a screwdriver..nope. I finally got some tools from another motorcycle, rigged the chain back on, and got back to transition eventually. I ran the run course for the workout after walking around for about half an hour, but mentally I was beat, frustrated.. it was unfortunate. I completely blame myself. I should have gone through the gears with my race wheels on (I usually do a bike warmup, but not with the helmet issue). I've just never have had any gear issues in the past swapping between these wheelsets since the cassettes are the same size. Ahh..another learning opportunity, gotta keep things positive.

Kyle Leto from UC Davis won the race in 2:02. Studly performance on the crazy tough course. In the UCSB regional college race a few weeks ago he finished about 4 minutes ahead of my time in the open race. I don't know if I could have pulled off a 2:06 or 2:07 today, but 4th and 5th were in the 2:08s so sub 2:10 and top 10 was definitely doable. It was the hardest and hilliest course I've ever seen. Insane, especially the 1/2 iron long course...gotta be the toughest half iron course there is. It's not really rolling hills...just plain hills.

Just one of those days I need to keep a healthy perspective, take some lessons learned from it and apply to to the future. The season is early. I got to spend some quality time with the MsM guys this weekend and meet some new people. We talked to a lot of people about the group, and people everywhere are getting pumped!

No comments: