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Alex Grant Blog: Getting a flat at the right time

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Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Dam.

Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Dam. (Image credit: Alex Grant)
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Starting to feel the burn.

Starting to feel the burn. (Image credit: Alex Grant)
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This is hurting!

This is hurting! (Image credit: Alex Grant)
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About as green as the hills get here in Glen Canyon.

About as green as the hills get here in Glen Canyon. (Image credit: Alex Grant)

This May kicked off with the Whiskey 50 on the first of the month and will close out with the Trans-Sylvania Epic (TSE) at the end. In between I’ve worked a lot, done a few local races, battled a head cold, and rode in cold rain more suited to February than May. This spring has been wet here in Utah, and our snowpack is at 300% of normal. May looks like it will be the third wettest May on record. It will be August before we are riding the good high elevation trails around here at this rate.

The TSE kicks off this Sunday, and I’m excited to go back to defend my podium spot from last year where I was second behind Jeremiah Bishop.

He’s coming back this year, as are a bunch of other super strong riders from various teams. It’s looking to be a great event, and I’m hoping to carry some better luck into this race than I had at the Whiskey 50 a few weeks ago.

I’m not sure about you, but I never seem to flat or have a mechanical in races when I want one. There are those days where you are suffering like a dog and riding like garbage, just creeping along praying for some bad luck to strike so you can pull the plug. That way when someone asks you how it went you can say, 'Oh, I flatted,' or, 'Ah man, I broke a chain,' rather than 'Oh, I sucked.' That’s never the case though, and those are the days where you can’t buy a flat.

It’s only the days where you are riding well, feeling good, and think you might be able to put together a good ride that the bad luck strikes. All in all, I’ve had a good run of luck and haven’t had a flat in a long time. I guess I was due at the Whiskey 50. After about an hour of racing, I was feeling good and riding in fifth position on the wheel of eventual winner Chris Sheppard, just in front of Colin Cares. We were in a group of four chasing a German duo that included my old teammate Ben Sonntag.

That’s when I noticed a squishy rear tire. Awesome. I pulled over and added some air and tried to get some Stan’s to seal the leak. No luck: I had cut the sidewall and was forced to put a tube in, which I pinch flatted promptly thereafter on a downhill strewn with sharp rocks.

At that point I chose to save the expensive wheelset and hike to a medical checkpoint where I waited for a while until another racer hiked out of the woods with a broken derailleur. He set me up with his spare tube, and I was back on track. I rode on the course for a while and eventually came upon Ben riding a flat tire, also his second, and jumped in with him for a nice Sunday ride.

All in all I had a blast at the Whiskey despite the bad luck. It’s a great race: well-run, good course, awesome town and vibe. The mandatory Friday night fat tire crit was cool (but painful) and a really good way to get the town out and stoked on bike racing. If you haven’t checked out the Whiskey 50 or Prescott, AZ I’d recommend it for sure.

Check back next month for stories from the TSE. It’s sure to be a blast. What could be more fun than crashing in a scout camp lodge with a couple hundred other mountain bikers and riding every day? Can’t wait.