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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mechanical Failures - Lessons Learned

When 27 gears become 3

I was riding the other day, went to shift gears and SNAP goes my rear derailleur cable. It left me stuck on the smallest chainring (toughest gear).

I stopped, tied the cable securely so it wouldn't flap around, and continued home.

With the triple on the front, I had basically 3 gears... took a few minutes to get used to this, as typically I stick to a cadence range of 85-100. Now I was doing everything from 60-110+... and on one particularly steep section, I was down under 20! It also meant some cross-chaining, which didn't sound good...

Made it home, then $10 at my local bike store and I had a new cable.

Flat tire

Last week, I was flying along at a pretty good clip, when I turned the corner and saw a 2" ridge across the road.

No sign, no warning, just a ridge (one of those ones when they're repaving and they grind down the road).

I couldn't stop - I nailed it. Immediately after it seemed like the bike had survived... but then POW, like a shotgun blast the tire went. I was still moving pretty good, but managed to slow the bike down and get to the side of the road.

It's very important to carry a spare tube - not just a patch kit - and this situation showed me exactly why! The tube wasn't just split, it was completely severed clean across. Completely un-patchable.

One other note - careful with the pumping. I had a flat once out on the road and when I was pumping with my little hand pump, I wiggled the stem around too much and it snapped off! I pumped it up as much as I dared, which when I got home turned out to be around 60 psi. Not as much as the 120 psi I started with, but enough to keep the rim off the ground and finish the ride!

Moral of the Story

You can get by on a half-inflated tire or even missing most of the gears. I have a friend who even rode with a broken chain, by keeping the tension across the top and rocking the pedals back and forth.

Be mentally ready for problems and don't be afraid to get creative when they happen.

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