Congrats on signing up for the TransRockies Challenge. Whether you’re racing for 1, 3, 4 or 7 days you will find the event challenging and, ultimately, very personally rewarding. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the bike for 2 hours or 10, everyone that crosses the finish line will have ridden the same rocks, roots, and mileage. The goal of this article is to prepare you, and your bike, for the expected and unexpected mechanical obstacles that the TransRockies can, and will, throw at you each and every day.
A race like the TransRockies, especially if you’re riding the full 7 days, will put both you and your bike through what most riders will do in a whole season, so don’t be surprised when you start to wear out parts. Also, you will be tired, and tired riders will make mistakes. A wrong shift here, a bad line through the rocks there, laying the bike down at a checkpoint and bending the rear deraileur hanger…things break.
Most riders, on a 7 day race, will need to have new parts installed. At a minimum, you will need a new rear deraileur cable and housing, disc brake pads, and a chain. Of course, this is assuming that your bike came into the race freshly tuned, with newer parts, and that the weather stays nice. We have seen brand new, high end brake pads wear out in 2 days in the rain and mud. Don’t be surprised when new parts wear out fast and be wary of trying to make parts last ‘one more ride’. If you are unsure a part will last, we suggest replacing it before you get on the bike. Need help? No worries! The mechanics are set up every day and work until all the bikes are ready to roll. Yes, this CAN involve no sleep (2009) for a few nights in a row, but we will get it done. Feel free to bring your own parts and tools and we will get you riding again. If you don’t have any back-up parts we will have a selection available for purchase but can’t guarantee we will have the top-of-the-line!
What to bring with you? Well, if you want, nothing. Again we have just about everything in stock, and the extra airline baggage costs might not be worth it. If you are bringing some parts, a starting point is a second set of tires (one dry to start, and a back up mud) 2 brake pads, 1 chain and some dry lube. If you want to bring more parts, then a second chain, cassette, 3 new chain rings, deraileur hangers, 4 total brake pads, extra cleats, 2 sets of precut or full length cable and housing for both front and rear deraileur, grips, rear deraileur, and a bottom bracket. Yes this is a long list, but we have seen bikes go through this list and more in a race, but don’t worry, we have all this in stock as you wear it out.
What should you bring on the bike with you? If you are racing this event, you know what the minimal amount you can get away with. If you are riding this event, then between you and your partner, bring with you daily.
1) A few chain links and quick links.
2) Rear deraileur hanger.
4) A few tubes, even if you are using tubeless tires, and a patch kit.
5) Spare cleats with bolts.
6) Tools: Chain tool, 2-8mm Allen keys, tire levers, multi tool, pump (yes, even if you have CO2) zip ties, small container of misc bolts, nuts, washers.
7) Pain meds, whistle, gel, food are nice too.
Now for the pre-game show. You have been training your body hard for this race, and getting lots of miles on your bike. What to do just before the race. NOTHING. Don’t change anything right before the race. However, a week or so before, while you are tapering, and wondering how you are going to fit everything into the duffel bags that they give you, start checking over your bike.
First, replace the tires, with something for dry conditions. While you are at it, check the hubs for wear or looseness. Check that wheels are true, and the spokes are still holding tension. Also check that the free hub is spinning smooth (they have a habit of getting gummed up in a dusty race). For tires, a light 2.0ish XC tire is great. I like tubeless as it eliminates the chance of a pinch flat, and is lighter, but you still need to carry a tube if you tear a sidewall. Carry 2 tubes + patch kit too
Now with the cranks removed, check the bottom bracket. Make sure it spins well, and no grinding, or looseness. Again replace it now, as it is not going to get any better. For the newer external type BB’s Enduro makes a great replacement bearing (you re-use the old cups), and they seem to last longer and spin better. While the cranks are off the bike, check the rings for wear, bends, or missing teeth. Again replace what is worn out. You ARE going to wear through a chain at the race so put a new one on now. If the used one still has 50% wear keep it for later. If it is 75% worn, just throw it away. If you are replacing the chain, and 2 or more chain rings, just replace them all, and get a new cassette as well. If you hunt around, you can find deals on whole new cranks, BB, and rings for about the price of rings only. This is a good time to upgrade to the external BB system as well. I’m a big fan of the quick links (come with Srams chains) and work on just about all brands of chains. Make sure that all your parts are for the same speed. 10 speed cassette, will NOT work well with a 9 speed shifter, and chain.
Brakes, Just put new pads in now. Keep the old ones with you for the race, and start with new pads, both front and rear. You might need to do this again during the race if it gets wet but on an average race one set will be fine. If you have not bled your brakes in 2000km, or 12 months, do that too. New pads and a fresh bleed make a bike feel so much sweeter.
Check for wear and tear on the grips and saddle. Replace before you arrive, and you should be fine. Also, we might not have the exact shape of grip or saddle at the race, so if you are picky, bring it with you. Lots of racers are going with some form of padded, Ergo type grip. Just gives you more contact, and more hand positions, but again, try this before the race to see if you like them. They also are mostly lock-on style, so they can’t slip around after you have been in 3 days of wet weather, and some have integrated bar ends too. Good upgrade for enduro racing.
Put in new cable and housing for the shifters right now. Nothing is cheaper, and makes the shifting feel better than this. I’m a fan of the full length cable and housing, as it has less points of entry for mud and dust, so they tend to last longer. You can attach the housing to the frame with zip ties, and add a bit of frame protector too. Bring a second section of cable and housing for later in the race too. If this is all precut, it is fast to install even if you are really tired. Mechanics can do all this for you too.
When was the last time your fork was worked on? Again, more the 2000km or 12 months, get it all done. New seals, new oil, etc. While you have the fork off, check the headset bearings. Any grinding, replace or re-lube them. Odds are we will not have just the sealed bearings at the race, but we can replace the whole thing, or just re-pack the loose bearings as needed. For the shock, check all the pivot bolts are tight, and that it still holds air well.
Well that is about it, have fun, best of luck, and enjoy the ride….