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Race News

EWS Crankworx Pits 2018 - The Horror!

Words Cam McRae
Photos AJ Barlas
Date Aug 14, 2018

EWS has strict rules for what mechanics can do to support their athletes and when. Riders must start and finish with the same frame, fork and wheels. This rule is enforced using the revolutionary technology of stickers placed on the not-to-be-swapped items. Several mechanics told me of instances where these adhesive markers were peeled off and applied to new parts mid-race. 

That's the what, but when is equally restrictive. Mechanics can go to town before and after the race, but they can only work on bikes in official "Outside Assistance Zones." Otherwise mechanics can't even touch their athletes' bikes. This means riders can hang it out a little before the OAZ, which occurred after stage 2 of the Crankworx Enduro this year.

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Cecile Ravanel rarely gets a flat but in Whistler she put a significant divot in her Spank aluminum rim which also caused a flat. Here she is beginning the repair while her mechanic Nico gets ready for surgery. 

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Cecile prepares a replacement tire while Nico inspects the damage. 

Most riders rolled into the pits in pretty good shape yesterday, but the Commencal team had a pair of virtually identical traumas. For riders at this level an inopportune flat, particularly one involving significant rim damage, could mean the difference between a solid result and no result. Fortunately decisive action and a skilled wrench can save the day. 

The rim damage was significant but Nico, with Cecile's help, attempted to mount a new tubeless tire. A tube could be used for the repair but that would leave Cecile vulnerable to a pinch flat on the trail. 

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Joe mechanic would probably use a similar process here. Nothing fancy, just lots of fluid. 

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I use gloves to mount a reluctant tire. Nico used a rag for a similar result. 

Most of the mechanics we spoke to had their riders using Cushcore and aluminum rims. Polar Bear, the Yeti mechanic went as far as to say, "I won't let my riders use carbon rims." Commencal has a sponsorship deal with Huck Norris and Nico had been impressed with the results up until this point, saying, "many rims have been saved using this product." When Huck Norris is installed it is cut to size. I assumed the best cut would be the smallest diameter that would fit around the rim. Nico's experiments suggested that the way forward was to use the largest diameter so the insert would sit against the inner carcass of the inflated tire. 

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Cecile did whatever she could to encourage the tire to seal. She urgently tried different approaches to find something that would work. 

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I had high hopes for this maneuver but it was not to be. 

Cecile and Nico tried several approaches, including sliding a sleeve of tube into the gap created by the dent in the rim.* When this too failed, Cecile was undaunted. She grabbed the biggest hammer in the pit, which wasn't big enough and used the steel staircase for support while she bashed the hell out of the rim. When this was unsuccessful he entire process was replicated with more vigour and focus, but then rejected quickly in favour of an old fashioned tube. 

*this was suggested to Nico by Jeffery Bryson

Somehow Cecile won both the first two stages, and was able to ride to the pit after the stage, despite the bad dent which had completely deflated her rear tire. For the final stages, including the Top of the World, Cecile had a tube in her rear tire. Tubes and enduro racing at the highest level are not compatible. You can't beat the best riders in the world with a tube in your rear wheel, unless you are Cecile Ravanel. Her gaps were, 5.5 sec, 9.5 sec and 48 seconds for the Top of the World stage. The woman is a genius. 


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Nico's arms were a little flayed after all the pumping. 

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Merde! Stuff in a tube!

Nico Padovani had just enough time for his adrenaline to peak by the time Yoann limped into sight. Like Cecile, Yoann's flat seemed to have little impact on his ranking for the second stage, but the damage was much more severe. Resettng the tubeless was out of the question and a damaged spoke had to be excised. Yoann, realizing the hammer in the Commencal tent was inadequate, ran over to the trailer of his former sponsor, Giant, and grabbed a more persuasive mallet. Yoann smashed away with a little too much vigour and looked over to us and said, "I fixed it a little too good!" with a a cackle and a huge grin. 

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Jeff politely pointed out that Yoann had stopped smiling. And then he remembered, and quickly became the jubilant spirit he displays on social media.

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You may not be shocked to learn this wasn't working. 

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Fine tuning. 

I really liked the Specialized movie, Motiv, but my favourite aspect of the film was sponsors having included one non-Specialized rider, But not just any rider. Ryan 'R-Dog' Howard, one of the most stylish riders of his generation, is sponsored by Trek. Another shock might be that there isn't a wealth of generosity and cooperation* between these two brands, each among the largest in the world. And yet someone** convinced Specialized that having R-Dog in the film was essential. My faith in humanity was similarly restored seeing Yoann be welcomed*** onto the Giant trailer to find the tool he needed.

It was likely we saw more action than most on course spectators, and talking to the mechanics is always amazing Thanks to all who generously helped us with this story

 * little brotherly love either

** my money is on the Coastal Crew

*** in truth I didn't hear him ask any of the Giant mechanics, although he may have, but it was clear Yoann knew he was welcome

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"We need a big fucking hammer!"

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There it is. I didn't hear any verbal acknowledgement between Yoann and the mechanics from his former team, but it was clear (mostly) he was welcome there. 

The more severe damage to his rear wheel led Yoann to throttle things back in favour of preserving a solid overall finish for the next two stages, but he let 'er rip for stage 5, the longest and most important stage of the day. The final stage, at almost 21 minutes,* represented over half the timed portion of the race. Even though 5th was his best finish of the day, the time was enough to land him in 5th overall. Another impressive result considering the compromised state of his rear wheel.

*for stage and overall winner Martin Maes

Comments

fartymarty
+1 JT Vik Banerjee Beau Miller
fartymarty  - Aug. 14, 2018, 2 a.m.

Split tube tubeless anyone?

Reply

Vikb
0
Vik Banerjee  - Aug. 14, 2018, 6:19 a.m.

That would be worth a shot.

Reply

jt
0
JT  - Aug. 14, 2018, 6:24 a.m.

Exactly what I was thinking.

Reply

IslandLife
0
IslandLife  - Aug. 14, 2018, 9:11 a.m.

Can you explain what that is?

Reply

pedalhound
+1 Merwinn
pedalhound  - Aug. 14, 2018, 9:46 a.m.

Also called ghetto tubeless, where you take a smaller tube and slice it open on the outside seam...and use it like a liner.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kx_yvln1Kus

Reply

fartymarty
0
fartymarty  - Aug. 14, 2018, 12:09 p.m.

I've got lots of dents in my rear rim and never burped a tyre with spit tube / ghetto tubeless.  I even run them on my Flows for little extra protection.  Also you get a rubber to rubber seal.

Reply

jt
+1 Merwinn
JT  - Aug. 14, 2018, 9:38 a.m.

Take a smaller diameter tube (say a 26" if using it on a  29er), split the outside surface all the way around, and install on the rim with the tube hanging off the side. Also known as ghetto tubeless in some circles. Works amazingly well.

Reply

lev
0
Lev  - Aug. 14, 2018, 11:44 a.m.

I haven’t done this, but couldn’t you chuck some stan’s in to the tube as well?  Got to help?

Reply

OldAndInTheWay
0
OldAndInTheWay  - Aug. 14, 2018, 11:15 p.m.

It does actually work, to a degree... 

I have a tire on one of my bikes, with a Slime filled inner tube. I have literally pulled lumber staples out of it (on more than one occasion). It's been on for two months, and has yet to go flat. One of the tears in it is 3mm (at least)... 

I'm not sure if it would handle a large pinch hole, but it would damn sure be better than naught

Reply

Tom1111
+1 phile
Tom1111  - Aug. 14, 2018, 12:49 p.m.

I have had good luck on two of my rims using sections of cut gorilla tape to build up the height of a dent in a wheel that wouldn’t air up tubeless after a big dent. 

After the level was built back up with tape they aired up fine tubeless.

Reply

Heinous
+1 chachmonkey
Heinous  - Aug. 14, 2018, 3:03 p.m.

I’m curious if they tried two large adjustable wrenches tightened to grab the rim/bead wall and simply pull it out. This is my usual go to and much more accurate than a hammer.

Reply

aj@nsmb.com
0
AJ Barlas  - Aug. 14, 2018, 3:46 p.m.

I agree with you that a hammer isn't the best approach, but their rims were stuffed beyond what the adjustable wrench treatment could fix. Especially Yoann's. His was dented hard enough to damage the rim bed and rim profile.

Reply

Heinous
0
Heinous  - Aug. 14, 2018, 6:46 p.m.

Ah yes, toasted.

Reply

OldAndInTheWay
+1 Cam McRae
OldAndInTheWay  - Aug. 14, 2018, 8:45 p.m.

Next time just slap a Maxxis Welter Weight tube in it, remove the valve core from it, dump some sealant in the tube, inflate and go...

It won't be perfect, but it will work better than you think ;)

Reply

Timmigrant
0
Tim Coleman  - Aug. 15, 2018, 10:24 a.m.

I wonder how much of the anti carbon rim philosophy in enduro is due to the quality of carbon rim available to the teams? It seems like folks write off an entire material for a rim when there are wildly different quality of carbon rims available.

Reply

DemonMike
+1 AJ Barlas
mike  - Aug. 15, 2018, 11:20 a.m.

I think it has more to do with the fact you have a better chance of saving the aluminum rim. As proven here, two pros with similar rim damage and both finished the event , Hell one even won the event . I feel the damage Yoann,s rim took would have exploded a carbon rim .

Reply

aj@nsmb.com
+2 phile mike
AJ Barlas  - Aug. 15, 2018, 1:53 p.m.

Apparently, Richie has broken every carbon rim he's ridden during the first day of testing, every time. That's why his wrench won't condone their use in a race environment.

Reply

DemonMike
0
mike  - Aug. 15, 2018, 2:05 p.m.

Jeff Bryson has stated he prefers aluminum over carbon for this type of event . Carbon  still seem hit and miss , some guys go years on one set , other,s kill them in a weekend.

Reply

OldAndInTheWay
+1 AJ Barlas
OldAndInTheWay  - Aug. 16, 2018, 9:17 a.m.

Is not that aluminum is "better" than carbon, is just that if on the off chance that a carbon rim fails, You can't do much to keep it rideable.

Since they aren't allowed to change rims out in EWS, it's just not worth the risk (even on good wheels)

Reply

phile
0
phile  - Aug. 15, 2018, 11:22 p.m.

I have used a hammer that way--against an unsupported surface, like propped against my leg--when I have been scared about doing harm, but it has always made me feel like a raging hack. I'm surprised to see that technique being used at the highest levels--but not surprised to see it not working worth a damn. That looks like an adrenaline-driven bad idea.

Reply

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