Thursday, March 01, 2012

Karapoti check-list 2012

See below my simple Karapoti check-list.

I have done around 11 Karapoti's over the years. In at least one of them the weather was actually really good. In many its been a bit challenging; while  it's true that "it is the same for everyone", we all know, its not about beating your buddies, its about beating your best time! In order to beat your best time, you need to finish. Some of the tips below may be useful in helping you finish with fewer problems.

Keeping it clean
Crudcatchers, one on the fork, one on front tube above your water bottle. You can make them out of old plastic milk bottles or 2 litres icecream container lids. Look at the difference one makes here. (From the Crazyman).

Some people carry a water bottle full of clean water to rinse out their eyes/glasses as well as to drink from, you can't rinse your eyes with carbo drink. Put your carbo drink in your camelback pack.

A peak on your helmet is also a very good way of shielding your face from mud off the rider in front's rear wheel. Be warned though that a peak can trap condensation from your breath and cause steaming up of your glasses, if you wear them. This only happens in really cold conditions. I don't wear glasses myself. Contact lenses and crudcatchers for me. Sports glasses and normal glasses both can get condensation on them.Trying to clean them with muddy gloves is very tricky : )

I prefer fingerless myself so I can do any repairs without taking them off.

Some of the crusties (masters) wear shin and or elbow guards to protect their old fragile skin !!!  ; )

Drive chain
Take oil and a rag for cleaning your chain so you don't get chain suck. The top of the Devils staircase, or the bottom of the Dopers climb are popular places to add some lube. Make sure that you go over your drive-train a few nights before the race, and with an old toothbrush pick out any "toe-jam" wedged between your chain-plates and on your chain rings. If you don't, you are opening yourself up to more dirt sticking and then the dreaded chain-suck. Chain suck... SUCKS!
Cleaning your bike with a toothbrush is a great way of finding stuff you may not have noticed otherwise : )

Brake pads, take spares; you should know how to change them. You might need a certain allen key? Start with new pads, sintered metal, not organic.

Tubes, I always take two. Patches and glue, not self-sticking ones. Take at least one spare tube if you are running tubeless anyway.

Inflation devices, two small c02s or one large, plus a working pump (dont store it on your bike, keep it in camelback pack to keep it clean). I heard three different stories of pump/tire interface failure (Ptif) in last weekend's pre-rides. You'd be surprised what can go wrong!

A tire boot is a really good idea, many people slash tires in the Rock-Garden and the tubless gizz wont repair them. Make one from an old piece of road tire or anything that works.

Don't drag your brakes excessively as this will wear them out quickly if conditions are bad. Even when running or walking the bike it can be an issue.

Take a multi-tool with a chain breaker and/or power link.
Tire levers for if your tires are a tough fit, or you need to pry open disc calipers to replace worn pads. A spare drop-out if your bike has a soft (sacrifical) one.

Look on the vorb forum to see what the current trend is with what tires are in vogue. If you are using new tires, make sure you can mount them yourself. Take some tire levers, small plastic ones weigh nothing, sometimes the exertion of racing leaves you with less energy for changing tires by hand (without levers).

If you are using a new tubeless tire set-up with goo in them give yourself a week for them to settle down as sometimes it can take a while for them to seal fully. Do some commuting on them to bed them in and spread the goo about.

Write splits on handle bar or stem with twink pen
There is no doubt, fully enclosed cabling is the way to go. These days its common for bikes to come with no cable stops so full lengths of cable outer from shifter to deraileur keep the dirt out and mean you should finish the Karapoti with as many gears as you started with. In the old days you could end up with a three-speed or a singlespeed! The Goretex and Nokon systems both work brilliantly but they are quite expensive compared to just using normal full-length housings.

Write your splits on your handlebar with a twink pen. It wont wash off in the wet unlike paper ones cellotaped onto your bar or stem. See the Karapoti site for some useful split-points.

Pumps and C02's
I like the lezyne style pumps, like the pumps we had in the "olden-days" where you had an external hose. They stop you putting too much pressure on your tire's valve stem, and ripping it out, as I have done with the other "clamp" styles ones, which you have to use by holding the wheel and pump head in the one hand.

There is one important downside to the lezyne style. It screws onto your valve stem. If you are using tubeless wheels you will have "replaceable valve-cores", and its possible, that if that core isn't tweaked in tight enough, you might unscrew it, while unscrewing the end of your pump after adding air to your tube/tire!

1. Always tighten your valve cores to an appropriate level.
2. Always carry a valve core tightener. (A small piece of plastic) in your kit.
If you do 1. you will be sweet. UNLESS you use a "screw-on" C02 device to air up your tire!

Anything other than a press-fit or clamp styled C02 dispenser is a recipe for disaster in my view. When compressed c02 comes out of a cannister it freezes everything around it. If the end of your device is screwed onto a replaceable valve core, no matter how tight it is in there, you will probably wind it out while trying to detach your threaded c02 tool, and lose all your air. Use a press-fit or clamp one and safe yourself the grief.

This is my favourite and it has never let me down. The top is threaded where the head screws onto the actual cannister, but the end is press-fit, and its 100% reliable. Before I had this one I only had about a 33% success rate with C02 tools. Very light, one moving part, can accept different sized cannisters. Air chuck elite.

Zefal make one. Vittoria used to as well. Not that common in NZ, but more so in Europe. They all have different names so it can be difficult googling them. I brought an MTB one at Rotorua MTB worlds that I still havent used.

After the event
Take one big rubbish bag to throw all your smelly disgusting muddy crap in.
Also take a brush for washing your bike in the river, and a small plastic bag with a clean face cloth in so you can scrub up good on the podium! Also have a clean top from your sponsor if you are likely to be on the podium : )

Take a really good beanie to keep in the warmth after the event, a poly-pro top and jersey and a full length raincoat in case it is windy/cold/wet; something warm on your legs; a deck chair to sit on so you don't get a wet bottom.


More handy hints from the field

Marco says:
Run through or around the bogs, don't try to ride through them.

Tigers tyre tips:
Tubeless - Tick (Make sure you do not run these too low as it is easy to burp your tyre in the Rock Garden)
Stans sealant goop - Tick (Have saved me from many punctures, SERIOUSLY)
Fast rolling - Tick
Exception Series - NOOO!!!!! not in this race anyway!!!!
Good hook up - Not essential, but helpful

Jeff says:
If you suffer from the cold, having an ear-warmer type of strip ready to pull down over your ears is good, in case you have to stop for repairs. Sweat goes cold very quickly and you lose a lot of heat through your head. Even a nylon shell in your camelbak could be handy on a really crap day.

Francis says:
Take a spare brake pad split pin. They will work in most brakes. A bobby pin or even a twig can work in an emergency if the original ever falls out.

Callum says:
Spray underside of frame parts with Silicone to encourage mud not to stick.