Who knew GU was so multi-purposeful by Amy Richards
During the Harvest Moon half-ironman distance triathlon this year, my last tri of the season, I was clipping along nicely. I was very happy with how I had been riding and it was looking as though I’d be able to drop about 15 minutes from my previous year’s bike split, despite having crashed pretty badly two weeks prior. Then, at about mile 40, (one) of my worst fears happened: I got a flat tire during a race. I say this is one of my worst fears; it used to be my worst, but seeing as how I’ve crashed during two races this year, I think it’s been replaced by the fear of crashing.
Anyway, I reacted rather calmly. I pulled over, dismounted the bike, and bent down to see a huge nail sticking through both sides of my back tire. I ride pretty tough tires (Gatorskins) even during a race (probably not the fastest choice), but nothing would be able to protect itself from a nail that size, at that angle. I naturally said a couple of curse words and then thought, “What the heck do I do? Do I wait for the sag wagon? Is my race over? Again??!!” Then, my mind flashed back to a maintenance clinic I had taken a couple years ago. I needed to put something in my tire to protect the tube a little bit. I had an empty gel wrapper on me. Perfect. I reached back and grabbed it out of my pocket, lined it up, put the tube in, applied the CO2 cartridge (my first time for this!), and got the tire back on. There was a nice athlete there who had stopped to put more air in his tire and he talked me through using the CO2 and putting the back tire back on. I had never changed a flat in a high-pressure situation, so I think I did pretty well. Adrenaline definitely makes us focus more! I had to stop a couple more times to fix the tire that I put on crooked, adjust, the brakes, etc., but I did make it back to T2, albeit slower than I thought I would be. My race wasn’t really what I had hoped for because I later died on the run, but I was proud of myself for being able to react to a problem under pressure.
Hopefully this situation never happens to you, but if it does, remember: keep calm and do what you know how to do (practice first, of course). Also remember that gels have more than one use!