The Personal Service Course

I was watching F1 racing over the weekend (naturally trying to envision what it would be like to run a circuit race or TTT on that smooth course in Budapest) and one of the announcers remarked about a mechanical that took one of the drivers out of the race, "That's the 5th of his 8 allotted engines for the year."

What struck me was not the number of allotted engines, but how different equipment reserves in F1 or Nascar are from bicycle racing, though in truth they needn't be. In motorsports, you know you're going to crash so you've got an extra car, chassis, engine or whatever available. You see these guys in the post-crash interview and they're angry or frustrated or disappointed, but they always end with, "Well, we'll just get back out there next week and see if we can do better." 

But talk to a bike racer after a ride-wrecking tumble and - assuming he's not hurt - there's a lot of anxiety about exactly how he's going to race next weekend, and on what. "I guess I'll have to borrow a wheelset from somebody," or "Maybe I can scrounge up a frame in my size." We put a lot of energy into preparing for the race season, and to see even a small part of it compromised because we used up our equipment - particularly when we're on form - is maddening.

I know we don't have the corporate support of the guys racing the Sprint Cup, so pulling together an extra $2K at the beginning of the season just to stockpile one of those fancy frames we ride is unreasonable. But preparing for the inevitability of crashing and needing replacement equipment shouldn't be unreachable in amateur cycling. For the amount of time we spend on the sport, we ought to have an extra frame and set of race wheels to switch to when a crash takes ours out of commission. Desire or practicality aren't obstacles. The only thing in the way is affordability.

That's what we're trying to change. If it's a lot easier to afford high quality equipment, it's harder for crashes and theft and driving into the garage with the bike on the roof rack to derail the season we've worked so hard to prepare for. Today, a lot of the more serious racers have been able to justify a spare set of race wheels. We envision a near-future where the Personal Service Course is a standard for competitive cyclists at any level - where for less than what most racers are spending on equipment over the course of a year, we can all buy the same quality bike and wheels AND be able to stock a spare frame and wheelset to make sure we stay rolling. 

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