Sunny day, eat, remove plastic bags, dry out the soaked shoes and try in vain once again to fix my shifting problem..........
Day 2, 4:00am to 11:00pm, 110 miles, 5 hrs sleep that night
The big ‘plan’ for day 2 was to make Eureka early enough in the day to resupply and knock out another 30 to 50 miles. As always happens in a multi-day plans go awry.
The day started without incident, up and moving within 30 minutes of plan. On to the hike-a-bike water sections. Soon I reached Butts cabin, around 7:40am and talked with a few riders still breaking their camp. I have to admit I was a bit taken aback as to why a racer would press on to Butts cabin on night 1, yet still be there by the time I arrived.
The day was nice, no rain lots of sun, the legs felt good and climbs were falling behind one by one. All in all it should have been a 'according-to-plan’ day but that was not the case. On the first climb my rear derailleur started to miss shifts (always from large to smaller cogs). As the day went on it got progressively worse to the point by the end of the day I was reaching back with my right foot and manually sifting the derailleur with some foot pressure.
I think I stopped 15 or more times to attempt repairs. At first I tried small trim adjustments to the upper and lower stop screws. Next I tried a drop of oil on the pivot points. This went on and on, between each repair attempt I would ponder what could cause the derailleur to act as it its return spring was ½ strength??. I removed the rear wheel several times and ‘actuated’ the derailleur by hand, both by pressing directly on the shift cable and by manipulating the shifter. With the wheel removed the derailleur moved thru its entire motion/arc in a smooth normal manner. I was 100% stumped. I would tell myself quit stopping and just keep riding, just make some miles. Then I would flounder up the next rise and stop and have another go at it. I was having a hard time maintaining a ‘clam’ outlook.
As I neared Eureka I was dealing with two issues. The first problem was my knees were more than a little sore from all the climbing in the wrong gear. Thru out the day I had been ‘over’ shifting during the approach to a climb and then clicking down into the right gear. This only worked about 1/3 of the time, the other times I would either miss-time the over shift or the slope would change mid climb and force me to power thru in to large or too small a gear. The second more immediate problem was how to restore my shifting. I really was at a total loss. I checked my smartphone for Whitefish bike shop hours of operation, all showed closed on Sunday. Plus I really did not know what the problem was, by this time I was thinking the derailleur itself was somehow defective Of course this didn’t make sense as it was basically new, had not been crashed and had performed perfectly in 2-3 hundred miles of training runs.
I was so off balance and in a bit of a daze from wondering what to do. Do I press on and hope to reach Whitefish early enough on Sunday and then ‘hope’ to find someone to help? Would it hold out that long, what if I sucked it into the wheel? Or do I keep trying to fix the problem myself even though I was at a loss as to what I might try next. I simply did not know what to ‘do next’ so once I rolled into the first re-supply point in Eureka I simply went thru the motions of re-suppling as if all was still on plan.
First I ordered 2 subway sandwiches, one to eat right away and one to pack away. Then I shopped the store and gathered up all the needed carry-away food items to get me on to Whitefish. Still not sure what to do and was just going thru the pre-planned motions. My mind was sort stuck in a loop with no clear path out. While in line to check out a racer in front of me was arranging to get a room for the night. When it was my turn to pay for my items, almost out of the blue, I said I wanted a room. Just like that a plan was born, get a room, strip off the derailleur, wash all the accumulated oil and gunk from the pivot points in a soapy sink, inspect for it for visible issues and reassemble and try to make it work.
By this time there was a nice crowd of TD racers eating resupplying and either settling in for the evening or moving on. To no avail I asked around if anyone knew any Sram XX1 derailleur secrets.
Anyway long story short as soon as I removed the shift cable I discovered the problem. The shift cable rides on small semi sealed pulley. This pulley forces the cable around a rather tight bending radius and the pulley’s housing is a perfect trap for small grit and dirt particals. What had happed is on day 1 the grit had worked into the pulley housing and combined with the tight bend radius delaminated the Teflon coating. There were little balled up bits and pieces of the Teflon gumming up the smooth ‘flow’ of the cable over the pulley. The only way to 'find the problem' was to actually remove the cable from the derailleur, ahh.....pull hair.....
It took a while to install my spare cable (also a Teflon coated version, its still on the bike as I write this and working like a charm bty). My bike has an internal cable routing so I have to ‘play’ with the cable to get it thru the frame yada yada yada. I finally got everything back together and tested ‘good’ in the hotel parking lot right before dark.
spread it all out, tear it down, make it work--ahh what a mess by the time I had it fixed....but finally it was working again...
I was a bit tempted to pack up and go but was just to emotionally spent to leave a nice, already paid for room with shower etc.
Such a small small thing, just a tiny bit of balled up Teflon...... But it started my knees on a disastrous downward spiral, especially the reconstructed left one and my tight race focus was now in complete tatters.