This morning, Mel and Terry went off without any apparent issues, but some other riders didn’t have such an auspicious start. Chris Eatough and Jeff Schalk, last year’s winners on the Trek VW team, apparently tried to overtake on a narrow piece of the course that crossed a newly mown hay field. We tried pre-riding the loop that they were on at the time and gave up because we couldn’t see the direction of the course. Apparently neither could Eatough and Schalk. Both of them picked up enough loose grass to jam up their rear cassettes and then wrap around their rear derailleurs – promptly pulling the derailleurs up and backwards in to the rear wheel. Chris’s bike was unrideable at this point, but Jeff managed to coast back down to the start. Chris had to run, carrying his bike because the rear wheel couldn’t turn.
Once back at the start, three mechanics started out to fix the bikes. This involved removing the rear derailleurs and finding new derailleur hangers. The hanger is a piece of soft(er) aluminum which is designed to break in these situations. Chris’ did, but Jeff’s hadn’t, so his derailleur was broken in two. Still, both derailleurs needed replacing because they were stuffed so full of grass. I guess the advantage of racing on a pro team is that you don’t cry over the cost of the replacement parts, just over the time you are losing while they are being replaced. Luckily, Jeff was carrying a spare derailleur hanger which the mechanics used on Chris’ bike. Two replacement derailleurs and one snipped-out broken spoke later, and the guys were on their way. I think they may have missed the second starter loop but nobody was counting at that point.
Going in to the main portion of the trail in dead last place, the two Trek riders still managed to pull themselves back up through the field to finish in third place at Lake Cowichan this afternoon. I just hope the effort wasn’t too much for them to sustain over the next six days.
I haven't had time to paste any images into this blog posting yet, but you can find several scary images of broken bike parts at the BikeBooBoos Picasa Web Album.
Interesting thought: if I had helped Mel or Terry to fix their bikes during the race, they would face disqualification. Somehow I don't think that's going to happen to the third place riders.