Sweat the Technique

Last Fall, Padraig asked me if I’d ridden D2R2. I hadn’t. Generally speaking, I haven’t done a lot of events of any sort since my kids were born, but this year has been different. The boys are 4 and 6, and I am turning 40, so I’m trying to get some things done with my fitness, while I’ve still got it. I ran a crazy off-road half-marathon in July. I signed up for D2R2, too.

D2R2 is an event like few others. A long, dirt road ramble. An adventure race. A scenic romp over hill and dale. A giant cyclo-festival that is most certainly and explicitly NOT a race, that boasts beer and barbecue and lots and lots of fist bumping.

I pulled out the cross bike, thick with dust, and set about tuning it for a full day of dusty suffering. Honestly, it took me the better part of a week to get that thing tuned up and dialed in. After my first attempts I took it to a local trail system to test my work. What I discovered is that cantilever brakes might as well be twin Rubics cubes, such is my inability to get them tight, even and balanced. I also learned that my seat was too high, and not level, and slightly not-straight. A great wrench, I am not.

Back to the garage and the work stand and the hex wrenches. Back to the kids nipping at my heels, moving my tools from one place to another, asking me too many (i.e. all the right) questions.

Today, two days in advance of the grand depart, I took the bike to a more challenging milieu, a six-mile loop of semi-technical single track. If I could make it there, I reasoned, I could make it anywhere.

It was only six miles, but it was exactly what I needed to transition my brain from my road machine to off-road machine. Keep your weight forward on the loose climbs. Let the bike float beneath you on the descents. Lean into the turns. Avoid the trees. You know, the basics. By the end, I was hucking it off the big (read: not very big) jumps and sprinting into the banked turns. I was having fun.

If you read any of the bike forums dedicated to this Saturday’s event, you will begin to believe that you are not ready, can’t ever be ready and are likely unworthy for the daylong sufferfest. Fortunately for me, having sweated the technique a little, I know that even when you’re not ready, you still ride, and everything works out just fine.

At least, I hope so.

If you will be at the ride this weekend, do keep an eye out for me. I’ll be resplendent in my RKP kit, and I will need all the encouragement I can get.


Follow me on Twitter @thebicyclerobot.

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  1. mike pida

    I rode D2R2 first time this weekend. 10:22 on the bike..10.47mph. HARDEST ride I have ever done…180k 14,000 ft vert. It cannot be described. How did you do? Did you enjoy the day?

  2. cwcushman

    Cantilever brakes are a pain! When I installed new pads recently I had to readjust mine and it took me a better part of a movie to do it –after reading Zimm’s instructions multiple times.

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