The Nature Vally Pro Ride is an awesome opportunity for several amateurs to realize the dream of riding in a real pro event. Thirteen riders from all over the US of A were randomly shanghai'd from regional events and smuggled sketchily into Minneapolis in perforated cardboard crates. They were allowed to bring their bikes, but Nature Valley supplied their kits. Those sprockets on the shoulder? Yep, that's us.
Which is to say, we have to keep their bikes running throughout the event. Golden Wrenchers Pete Hamer and Tyson Meyer have done this sort of thing before, so they took to the opportunity like a chicken watching a card trick. At any rate, these are amateurs who are being treated like professionals, and part of that treatment is bicycle kindness, Golden Wrench style.
Last year we sponsored the women's team, and I personally worked late into the night on a bike that had been ridden into the ground. It didn't shift, the brake pads were more-or-less shot, the rear wheel had a bad hop in it, and the chain was worn out. Peel the tubular back, scoop out the fossilized tubular glue, find the right wrench, true the wheel, ghetto-patch the glue, good as new! Run all new cables plus new housing at the derailleur loop, presto! Write an inspirational message on the bar tape in Australian, yessiree! I happen to speak a bit of Australian: that's how I'm able to understand Andrew the Shimano Tech Rep. In fact, I translate for some of the other guys who frittered away their high school years on Donkey Kong and riotous living.
Anyways, in the frenzy of trying to get to her first professional bike race of her amateur career, one of the athletes forgot her shoes at the host's house. Now, this was the St. Paul crit, and if you've ever tried to get into or out of St. Paul at 6 PM, you realize that shoes in St. Louis Park (for example) would be inaccessible. She was determined to throw down in her running shoes, but we found another way!
Jake, the General Mangler, has the exact same size feet that she had!!! and he carries his road shoes around in the back of his car!!! and his car was only slightly further than a comfortable distance away!!! but nothing he couldn't cover on a borrowed bike!!! and Pete's bike was just sitting there!!! so off he went!!! and back he came!!! and most of his cleat bolts were not stripped or seized, except for that one!!!
Not to make it more dramatic than it needs to be, but we managed to get the shoes from Jake's car, get the ratty old cleats off (including one stripped bolt), install some brand-new Shimano SPD-R cleats (crookedly), and install them on the athlete at the starting line. She was only about 5 seconds late leaving!
Well, her race went to pieces on her. After she caught back up to the group, a crash in front of her forced her to unclip, and she was never able to clip in again. Heartbreaking, especially considering how hard she worked to get there. She was glad to have the absolute worst experience of her cycling career behind her, and if nothing else, we were glad for that as well.
So that was stage two. There were more stories I wasn't privy to, and I heard it through the grapevine that our man Timothy Rugg put on a show for the fans at Stillwater, and went home with a Most Aggressive Rider jersey (with some sprockets on it). He's going somewhere and could use some good fans!