Tuesday, June 07, 2016

The Kanza Ride: Blowing Up

Room and board at ESU: Air conditioning? - maybe.
That wasn't the best night's sleep I ever had. Chalk it up to a good rehearsal for the 4:00 am wake up call for Saturday. Yes.....we woke up in a sweaty mess at 4:00am. There wasn't a breath of air coming in the wide open window either.

Breakfast was had, then we had purposed to go check out the expo area downtown and especially the Brooks saddle tent. There would be a demo fleet of saddles which one could swap into their bike and give a try. Swapping saddles the day before your big event? Yeah....some people went for it. That meant that when the demo ride was over, they would have to swap their own saddle back in, and well, you know, you should never change anything on your bike a day before an event. Never. Some folks were daring though. Kudos to all of them. I would not have done that, and Tony didn't either, but we still wanted to check out the rare and high end C-13 Cambium with a carbon cradle. It was really light, but it was also really narrow! Too narrow for my caboose, that's for sure!

The other plan that came to be was that we had run into Michael and Josh, two guys we know from our gravel travels, and we were to do a shakedown ride that morning. We finally met up with them, and then we watched as the over 100 strong "demo/pre-ride" ride went off on their journey. One hundred plus riders? That's probably more than a few early Dirty Kanza's had for entire fields. It was pretty impressive.

Brooks demo saddles- The carbon C-13 is to the left here. 
Trans Iowa finisher, Dirty Kanza 200 finisher. That's the UK's Paul Errington right there doing his best at the Brooks demo.
After the throng of riders set off, we did as well, but just us four. It was a nice group and we endeavored to only ride out for a few miles or so, then turn back and go get some lunch somewhere. Michael actually decided to turn back sooner than we three had a mind to, so we waved goodbye to him and turned our faces back to the road ahead. We were about to pass under the turnpike when I heard a strange sound, or rather, a series of sounds.

Whump! Whump! Whump! Whump! BOOM!

My rear tire was flat! Okay......what the.......!!!

After four years and more of use, the casing fails internally, and air pressure did the rest. KA-BOOM!!
 The problem was caused by a few things. One- A tire not meant to be tubeless, but I ran it that way anyway. This isn't always a good idea, but in this case, it lasted almost five years. Secondly, the casing, which was a light XC racing casing, just wasn't meant to withstand this sort of abuse, and the fabric separated due to stress. Thirdly, when the previous happens, air can get between the casing and the tread and separate it, which causes a "bubble" and then that can explode. Well, that's exactly what happened to me. Now what?

I removed the tire, and while I did that, Tony got out his small roll of Gorilla Tape, and the plan was to apply that inside the casing where the fabric had separated. The tread, which was separated from the casing, was another matter. Once I got my spare tube in and partially inflated on the rim, I decided that wrapping the entire tire and rim at the point of the rupture was going to have to do. It looked rather cartoonish, but I figured that it would get me back home.

The fix worked! Here is what it looked like after getting back to Emporia.
I had noted that we crossed a chip sealed road not long before I flatted, and Josh, with his Garmin device, confirmed that it would take us back to Emporia via a few curves. This was going to be easier on the repair, I figured, so I suggested that we cruise back that way. Tony and Josh agreed, and much to my amazement, the repair held. I made it back! So, once again, now what? 

Michael (R) and Tony on the ride out.
Josh getting all aero behind me as I cruised back into Emporia on my repaired tire.
The expo area at the cordoned off street section in front of the DK Promotions offices had several vendors and there I searched for a possibility of obtaining new tires. I figured on replacing both of them, since the front Ikon, being of the same age as the rear one, was likely at some point to fail in a similar manner. No need to experience that again! Nip that in the bud!

I ran across Jim Cummings, one of the directors of the Dirty Kanza 200, and he directed me to go to the Sunflower Outdoor and Bike's pop-up store within the DK Promotions building. In the meantime, we saw many people we knew and lots of cool stuff. I was a bit distracted, so the operation of getting tires fitted to my bicycle took a bit longer than I had anticipated it to.

Joe and Tina Stiller's custom Eriksen tandem bicycle.
I finally got the tires, a pair of 60TPI Sparwood models from Teravail, and brought my bicycle in to the mechanics working on site for Sunflower Outdoor and Bike. It was odd being "on the other side of the counter", as it were, but I get it. These guys are busting their butts trying to make a living, just like I do when I am "on duty". This day was a vacation day for me, so I let the guys that were getting paid do the work. Well, that was until the mechanic needed some help.

One of the things I hate about a hectic situation is that I never remember names when things are going fast and furious. So, I need to apologize up front to the man who was helping me out, because he deserves credit for going above and beyond in his trying to help me out. He was hitting a wall called Stan's No Tubes versus the Rest Of The Tubeless Tire World, and that wasn't the mechanic's fault. My rims are Sun-Ringle' designed, which are based upon Stan's No Tubes bead seat diameter, which is slightly bigger in diameter than what a tubeless tire bead is designed to fit these days. I know, maybe you are confused, but trust me- we mechanic's know this. He understood it was going to be a struggle, and he gave it his best effort. I was handed the tire to see if I could manage the feat, and after a bit of struggle, I found the technique that won the day. I ended up mounting the last bead of both tires for the mechanic, but not before I broke my own tire lever doing it. Hopefully, these won't need to be fixed in the field at anytime, but if they do, I sure hope the bead of the tire stretches some!

I celebrated the tire victory with a pint of Big Grin. #biggrin

I paid the cashier, who was the son of the first DK200 winner, Dan Hughes, for the tires and service, then we went out and wandered around. Finally we went off to get some food. There are some great restaurants in downtown Emporia, and we ate some really good barbecue sandwiches at Bobby D's Merchant Street BBQ. You almost cannot go wrong with food downtown in Emporia. I haven't been disappointed yet.

The next stop was the Pre-race Meeting, so we attended that. It was the usual fare, and when we were able to get out of the Grenada Theater, we walked around aimlessly for a bit. The hours wound away and Tony reminded me that I wanted to "tip" the mechanic that helped me, so we found the liquor store and I bought a sixer of tallboys for him. We walked it over in a big brown paper bag and he was pretty stoked when he looked inside. Good deed done, we went off and then ran into Michael, Josh, and a few others who were talking about getting something to eat.

We weren't too motivated, and when we found out most of the Dirty Kanza participants were also wanting to eat, forcing up to two hour wait times, we bailed out and went looking on our own for some grub. Tony and I ended up getting a bite to eat on the far side of town. Then we came back to our cinder block palace for what we hoped would be a more comfortable night of sleep. The air conditioning was fixed! However; the air conditioning game at ESU was weak. The air outside was cooler than the air in our room.

Windows open then with the alarm set for 4am......

Next: From One Extreme To Another


Robert Ellis said...

Thanks for those stickers!

Joe Stiller said...

It's always nice to see the Gravel legend ..
Joe and his Tina