Have Dental Floss, Will Travel

Mapping the world, one waxy strand at a time…

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall…

I wish I had pictures to document the anxiety that was this afternoon.

For three and a half hours, Brent and I sat in the backyard, cleaning every inch of my Jamis Ventura road bike. We de-greased the chain, combed out the gunk from each gear, and wiped down the components until they were sparkling.

And then I looked on helplessly as Brent set about the task of boxing it up.

Now, my hunch is that most people competing in an ironman are content to fork over the $250 to ship their bike, fully assembled, to its intended destination. I seriously considered this. But $250 is a lot of money, especially when you can pay $45 to have your bike hitch a ride with FedEx. Only problem is, to secure it for travel, you have to transform it from:

this

to

First he took off the front wheel. No problem – I do that every time I put the bike in my car. Then he removed the seat and stem. Okay, I thought to myself. I can put those back on. Piece of cake.

Then he moved on to my brand new clipless pedals, wrenching them free from their tightly threaded screws, leaving me wondering how in the world I could ever get them that tight again. Still, I was pretty sure that I could manage. You may not need the jaws of life to get them off next time, but I could muster the strength to ensure that they stayed in place during the race.

At that point, we attempted to squeeze the bike into the cardboard box we’d taken off the hands of a local bike shop a few days ago. No such luck – more would have to go.

I shuddered as Brent tackled the derailer, and nearly needed resuscitation when he began to disassemble the triathlon-bars that REI spent so much time measuring just last week so that they’d be in the perfect position for the race.

I’m flying out to Madison a week from Friday, with my dad and Brent joining me a day later. Brent assured me that his flight would get there in plenty of time to help me put this humpty dumpty bike back together again before the Saturday 5 PM cut-off to secure it into the transition area.

But what if your flight gets delayed?

Then one of the dozens of bike technicians that they have on hand will help you re-assemble it.

But what if they won’t do that?

Then the race directors will let me come and help you when I get there. They must have some sort of protocol for these things. People are late all the time for adventure races, and it’s never a problem.

But this isn’t an adventure race. It’s way more rigid. If my flight is delayed and I’m not at registration by 5 PM sharp on Friday, then I can’t race at all.

Don’t worry. We’ll figure it out.

I was unconvinced.

Still, I had to marvel at the final product: my bike – including both wheels, the seat, the regular handlebars and the tri bars, not to mention my helmet and bike shoes – were all neatly arranged in a 4 foot by 2 foot by 6 inch box, ready to board the FedEx van to my good friend’s apartment in Madison, to await my arrival.

I tried not to think about how it would fare once we were reunited.

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2 responses to “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall…

  1. N.D. August 29, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    wow- about a week to go! Exciting! This part with the bike would have stressed me out. In fact, had I realized this when considering a race like this, it probably would have been a good excuse for me not to do it. You are strong and going to do great! Long runs alone are hard, I did another today.Good luck next week!

  2. Toni Brandenburg September 2, 2008 at 4:03 am

    Those Fed Ex bike-in-a-box deals work great. I did it earlier this summer. I thought I’d never survive taking off the derailler, but a five minute study solved it. Good luck on the ironman. I think I might try it if the race were called the Ronman. Much more unassuming.

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