Luna's Georgia Gould was in the four-woman lead group of the elite women's cross country race at the Sea Otter Classic on Saturday in Monterey, California, when disaster struck. She burped her tire, which left it low on air pressure. Another burp turned into a proper flat.
"I burped it and then I panicked and instead of stopping and adding CO2, which would have been the best thing to do," said Gould, "I kept riding and on the bumpy ruts. As I exited the pavement, I burped it again and then it came unseated. When I tried to re-inflate it, it wouldn't re-seat."
Gould's flat happened at a most inopportune location - right after a tech zone. Racers can only progress forward on a course, which meant she had to run about half a lap to the next tech zone.
"It wasn't bad luck. It was me - my own mistake," she said to Cyclingnews after the race.
If Gould had had a spare tube with her, she might have quickly repaired the flat and been back on her way, possibly even in time to regain the leaders. The problem was that Gould was without a spare tube.
"I always carry tubes with me. This is the one time I was like, 'oh it's a 15-minute lap'," said Gould. "It was total karma. I will ALWAYS carry tubes now. Maybe five tubes and eight CO2 cartridges, and hey, maybe even a pump strapped on my bike."
Gould, who had won the short track at Sea Otter on Friday, was a little hard on herself, but she'd learned her lesson.
"I was so annoyed at myself for being a bonehead. I was thinking, ok, fine, now you don't get to sit in on the track, you have to pedal the whole thing on your own."
And while some racers might have given up and saved their energy for next weekend's World Cup after falling out of contention for the win, Gould soldiered on in what were windy conditions challenging to all who were riding solo with no drafting opportunities.
"There is always going to be someone who finishes dead last in a race. To just drop out when you know that you're not going to be in contention... if only the people who thought they were going to win showed up to race, it wouldn't be very exciting."
"I respect everyone who finishes a race, especially those who finish last, and so for me, I feel like it's important to finish a race if I can. Unless it's dangerous. It's important to do that because it's not just about winning races. It's my own personal thing."
Though Gould did drop back as a result of her flat and subsequent run, she didn't finish anywhere close to last. She placed 8th, 07:29 behind winner Emily Batty (Subaru-Trek).
Gould headed to South Africa earlier this week. She will contest the opening World Cup on Saturday.
"I'm excited for next weekend's world cup. I'm feeling good and I'm riding well. I hope it goes well." She did not attend the first World Cup in Pietermaritzburg - this will be her first time racing there.
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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews. She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.