Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Learning Experience

A nice picture from Virginia.

Well friends, I am learning that there is a lot of training, preparation and education in getting ready for my long distance rides. Some rides are more educational than others. As my friend Vikram said in his blog, “ reading brevet reports online is not good training for riding them!” And, he is right.

Yesterday was a perfect example. I was riding home from Kathy’s school, slowly spinning up a steep part of highway 89 when the front derailleur clamp failed. Now, before I go any further, the local bike shop installed this clamp and the failure was NOT a design flaw of my Barcroft Virginia GT. When I replaced the front derailleur, there was some difficulty in finding an adequate clamp. Hence, the problem yesterday morning…

So, there I am, on the shoulder of a busy highway, the front derailleur hanging on the chain, still connected to the cable. The bike is unrideable in this configuration. In order to remove the derailleur I merely needed to unscrew the small bracket at the bottom the derailleur, toss it in the bike bag and be on my way. Bad news: No screwdriver! Much ranting and raving now ensued, as I am stranded 6 miles from home, and an evening shift at work looming closer.

Just a few tubes, a pump, is all I carry!

The moral of this story is about not being prepared. For years I have been a minimalist when it comes to carrying parts and tools on the bike. This will not suffice on my first brevet, or on the MS-150 miler in June. This is what I learned today. I am horribly unprepared for riding in the back of beyond. So, now the search for the right tools to carry commences. I have to be efficient about space and weight.

How did I get home? Well, easy! I finally came to my senses and unhooked the derailleur cable and the derailleur hung free on the chain. I discovered that if I was very careful and didn’t pedal too much, the derailleur would hang free, floating in front of the idler under the seat. So, gently and slowly I pedaled up the hill, down to Gentile Street, and cruised slowly and safely home. Not elegant, perhaps not all that smart, but I got home! Next up, a new derailleur with the RIGHT clamp from Barcroft Bikes.

I am pretty sure, this is not how it is supposed to work..

That’s the last thing I learned. Training is not all about miles and conditioning. It’s about physical, logistical, and mental preparation.

Happy riding,


Vik said...

Ahhh....what a sad fate for that pretty Ultegra der! On my brevet and all my LD rides I carry a full set of tools and spares. I think the fact is if you ride enough LD rides everything that can fail will fail.

I'm glad you found a work around and got home without too much hassle.

Pete said...

Just too much power!
I only know one person that has detroyed two front derailleurs.