I’ve made reference to the call of shame in my comments at many blogs. But I’ve never discussed it here because I am a tenacious little ferret and I refuse to fall foul of anything serious enough to necessitate the call. Actually it’s not so much that I’m a tenacious ferret, but more that I’m a bit scared of the reaction if I interrupt my wife’s schedule with some trivial problem that could have been ignored, avoided or MacGyver’d.
I fibbed a little just there. A couple of months ago I made the call. All of the chainwheel bolts worked loose and there was no way to fix it where I was so I dialled from 10km away and then sat on the kerb waiting for the white station wagon to rescue me.
It’s a great day for a ride.
Today was day 3 of my next revolution and I was scheduled to do a flat fast run down the highway and back for a total of 94km (58mi). Everything was going to plan… the sun was shining down on the third last day of autumn offering 21°F (70°F) and the wind was very gentle. I picked up a couple of bits of gear on eBay (this and 4 of these, if you must know) and then hit the road at lunch time.
I had loaded a fresh batch of songs in the MP3 player and fully charged the batteries. Nothing was going to keep me from 3 hours of pedalling bliss, except the bit where the bike rebelled against the shear volume of work I’ve asked of it recently.
Rattle. Buzz. Rattle. Buzz.
I was 27km (17mi) from home when I started to hear a funny noise from the back wheel. The wheel I had rebuilt about 5 weeks ago after a succession of broken spokes. A stop and a quick look showed a spoke had worked loose. Completely loose. The noise was the spoke nipple rattling around in the cavity of the rim. The wheel was still true so I carried on with my ride.
Bang. Squeak. Squeak.
On a perfectly smooth piece of road, and within sight of my planned water stop, the back wheel let off a crack like a gun going off, and the tyre started rubbing on the frame with each rotation. At this point I am exactly 47km (29mi) from home. The exact centre point of the ride and as far from home as I could possibly be.
I let off the quick release on the brakes and skewed the wheel in the drop outs so it didn’t rub on the frame, filled my water bottle and hit the road.
Bang. Damn. Not again.
I was only about 10km (6mi) up the road and still over an hour from home when another spoke let go. I must take this opportunity to advise my readers that my wheels only have 32 spokes each. So the back wheel is now down to 29. I didn’t even bother to stop this time. I just had a bit of a look at all of the points where clearances were tight and couldn’t see anything rubbing so I kept on pedalling.
Click. Click. Click. What is it now?
It wasn’t 5 minutes later when I heard a disturbing clicking from the back of the bike. At this point anything is possible. My first thought was – “At least the wheel hasn’t collapsed. Yet.” With the wheel in such bad shape I figured this noise warranted a stop to check. And what would you know, another spoke had come undone and was flicking the frame as it turned. So I wound it around an adjacent spoke, said a small prayer, and headed off again.
The tenacious ferret returns.
58 minutes later I eased gently up my driveway. And marvelled at the fact that I didn’t have to make THE CALL. Tenacious ferret indeed – lucky bastard, more like it.
And I’ve attached a picture of the wheel so you know how close I came to doom this afternoon. I’ve bent the spokes so the damaged ones are a little more obvious.
And so far I’m looking at 3 out of 3 for the new revolution. Despite today’s problems, I rode exactly the ride I had planned, bringing my 3 day total to 267km (166mi). I’ve got until Friday to get the wheel sorted. The next 3 days are reasonably do-able on the fixie, but come Friday I’m heading back to Everest and I definitely want a full compliment of gears for that outing.