What a long ride home

By reeset / On / In Cycling

With the winter storms in the Willamette Valley moving from snow and ice to wind and rain, I’ve been enjoying a long week of riding into a stiff headwind (10-15 mph steady, 25-35 mph gusts) and getting soaked by the rain.  But that’s alright, that’s why I buy Gortex.  However, today was one of those extra special days.  🙂

After riding against a stiff headwind this morning (and being happy that I don’t live in the gorge, where they were seeing gusts over 100 mph), I was looking forward to a fast ride home in the evening.  And it started good.  However, things started to go wrong once I had gotten onto highway 99, and the last 20 miles from my house.  Shortly after leaving Corvallis, I felt my bike seize.  With all the snow and ice over the last few weeks of December, ODOT had laid down a lot of loose gravel.  Well, this stuff isn’t washing away quickly, and tonight, some of the gravel got wedged into my chain.  I rolled the chain backwards, and things started moving again.  Unfortunately, I could tell that my chain got bent, because it started slipping.  Frustrating, but I figured I could still limp the bike home.  However, maybe 6-7 miles down the road, the chain breaks. 

Now, bike chains come in many shapes and sizes.  Mine has what’s called a master link — this is a link that allows you to easily remove your chain (for cleaning, adjustments, etc).  This was fortunate.  My chain broke one link past the master link.  This meant that I was able to simply remove the broken link and then rethread my chain.  I lose a couple of gears, but at least I can get home.  Normally, this fix is a couple of minute job.  However, in the wind, rain and dark (did I mention that it was pitch dark), this becomes a much more difficult repair (especially if you drop the master link). 

Anyway, a couple minute job turned into a 15 minute job, but I got the bike running again.  Yeah.  With the bad link gone, this are working much better (though, I can tell that the chain still isn’t quite right).  Well, another mile down the road, and my back tire goes flat.  Again, another couple minute job that is infinitely more difficult in the dark and rain and became a 10 minute job.  So, after spending about an extra 30-35 minutes doing repairs, I finally was able to limp home.

Actually, the ride could have been a lot worst.  When I was changing my back tire and removing the piece of glass that had gotten lodged into it, I noticed that the tred was starting to pull away from the tire.  This isn’t good — and generally is the mark of a complete tire failure.  After changing the flat, I was really hoping that my tire would last just long enough to get me home.  It did, but it took it’s toll.  Going out to look over my bike to assess for further damage (since I already know I’m replacing my chain, but making sure that I didn’t chew up my cassette, chain rings or derailers) I noticed that my back tire was flat again.  A slow leak — and that there is now a 3″ spot on my tire where the tred has completely pulled away, leaving the kevlar completely exposed. 

On the bright-side, I do so enjoy going to the bike shop. 🙂

–TR

One thought on “What a long ride home

  1. Yikes! That is one terrible ride home. Good to see that you were prepared for the worse. I’ll look to this story for inspiration if I ever find myself in the same position.