Training, racing, gear, facial hair styles and thoughts from my push to become an elite cyclist.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tinker Juarez and a Last Minute Existential Crisis

So here I am, suffering from my usual pre-race neuroses.  It's less than a week away and I'm worrying about the things I shouldn't worry about and contemplating changing things that shouldn't be changed.  On top of all of that self-inflicted and unnecessary worry add in the fact that my childhood racing idol Tinker Juarez will be at the start line on Sunday.

EarlyTinker: before clipless pedals, before front suspension.

Fortunately there is a separate pro category so I will not be racing against the elites like I did at the VT 50 or at Dark Horse, but he'll still be there in all of his grizzly dreadlocked glory.

I first started paying attention to mountain biking in 1995, and became interested in pro racing in 1996.  At that time Tinker Juarez was the king of the domestic cross country scene and went on to represent the US at the Atlanta Olympics.

Tinker in 2000 wearing the National Champion's jersey from his victory at Mt Snow the year before.

At Mount Snow NORBA finals in '99 I got first glimpse of elite racing firsthand, and my first memory was watching Tinker ride away from the field on the steep course.  What surprised me most was how small he was at about 5'7" and weighing maybe 145 lbs, yet his legs were as thick as tree trunks.  Wearing the gray jersey of the NORBA National Series leader he rumbled through the uphill feed zone in the big ring over a minute ahead of his nearest chaser.

Tinker won't show up with an oversized Etto helmet, or ride a Klein with the Dolomite paint scheme and toe clips, but he will be there, and it will make me nervous.  Right now I don't need anything to make me nervous as I'm busy undermining myself with inconsequential details. 

I've decided on the tires I'm going to run.  I've gotten the new chain, chainring, brake pads and shift cable installed, and hopefully the ti prep treatment will quiet down the squealing PF 30 bottom bracket that I installed last week.  So the bike should be good.

Still this always the hardest part right before the race when the fitness is already accumulated and the only thing left to do is rest and prepare.  I have a copy of last year's packing list, so maybe I should start rounding up my tent, air mattress and other camping paraphernalia, though I doubt it will help. 

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