Sunday, October 14, 2007

Two road bikes bite the dust

And here Geoff waited, for nearly two hours, hoping his rescue ride would pick up the pace.

Date: Oct. 14
Mileage: 40.1
October mileage: 278.5
Temperature upon departure: 46
Rainfall: .31"

Another break in the weather drifted past Juneau this morning. This one was more glorious than any of the breaks from the past month - clouds nearly clear-cut from the sky; sun that nearly blinded eyes unaccustomed to unobstructed light; temperatures that nearly allowed one to roll up a sleeve. Yes, it was a beautiful morning. So Geoff and I decided to go for a "long" road bike ride.

Before we even made it past the house, Geoff observed that my crank was really loose. He pulled the crank and discovered the bottom bracket was falling apart. Probably just a few spins away from falling to pieces. I should have noticed it earlier, but I recently reinstalled my clipless pedals, and assumed the loose feeling and strange clanking was the pedals' fault (after all, I like to blame all of my riding troubles on clipless pedals.) Geoff regreased the bottom bracket and tightened the crank back up. He told me I might make it through the ride. Might.

We pedalled north on a feather, moving through the calm morning like seagulls on an ocean breeze. Geoff wasn't feeling stellar so we kept the pace pretty easy, but it didn't take long for my crank to begin wobbling again. By mile 20, it was clanking more horribly than it ever had before. It sounded like an ax striking metal. Geoff and I were discussing how much longer we should ride when I decided that I couldn't pedal that bike a mile further than I had to. I was going to have to turn around. He decided to go with me.

We were just leaving the spot where we sprawled out on the beach for a short break when he stopped suddenly. He jiggled his back wheel until he found what he suspected - a spoke snapped clean off the hub. He climbed back onto his bike as I followed behind, watching his rear wheel wobble back and forth like a rolling hula hoop. Rather than risk the catastrophic failure of his wheel, he decided to stop right there. He was going to need me to rescue him. We were 17 miles from home.

So I set into my ailing pedals, cranking with everything I had so Geoff wouldn't freeze on that beach and I wouldn't be late for work. A light breeze brushed my back and I mashed away - 18, 19, 20 miles per hour, listening to my crank groan as it fluttered wildly from side to side, the whole way wondering if this stroke was going to be the one to finally snap the bottom bracket in half.

Somehow I managed to ride the entire way home (the last three miles had me convinced I'd be unipedaling at best), take a shower, pack a quick lunch and drive the 17 miles back to pick up Geoff in less than two hours. But now, both Geoff's and my road bikes are out of commission. My bike requires ordering a bottom bracket from out of state, waiting for it to show up in the mail and installing it. By the time I fix the bike, there's likely to be ice on the roads in the morning. This could be a season-ending injury for Roadie - and in the midst of my month of interval training!

On the bright side, I took a picture that I really like.


  1. nice picture, jill!

    glad you made it back ok ;)

  2. I'm glad you used the buddy system to take care of each other. It's something boy scouts learn but few people use. Best wishes on getting you part soon.

  3. Ooooh, bummer about the bikes. What are the odds of both throwing craps the same day?
    But what a beautiful day and those pics say it all. FANTASTIC!

  4. Does your LBS not carry the right one?

    That last picture is awesome.

  5. I've had the same spoke problem happen before. That's why I now carry a spoke wrench, as well as a spare kevlar emergency spoke, wherever I go. It's extremely cheap, strong, and can be installed in a flash. Beats having to be rescued, and is good enough to get you home. Get one now - you'll thank yourself.
    It helps to have a basic understanding of how to true a wheel, but it's really quite simple, and with this kevlar emergency spoke, you'll never be caught having to be rescued.

    Now they just have to make an emergency crank....

  6. I had the bottom bracket problem on the first day of the West Shoreline Tour up in Michigan (Well, up for me, down for you!). At least yours stayed on! Mine broke, and suddenly the right crankarm, front gears and all, was hanging from my shoe! Fortunately, I was able to stop without falling, and the ride mechanic was able to take care of it for me.

  7. that is a great picture

    I look at my pictures

    sometimes I like the balance of space that happens with my photographs

    other times I accept the photographs just as a document that captures a moment of time

  8. The broken spoke problem can be remedied enough to get you home by loosening the spokes on either side of the broken one. This will bring the wheel pretty close to true. I had to do this just this Saturday. I safely rode another 20 miles and I weigh around 260. So the wheel failing is not really something to worry about.


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