Ever wondered how to turn a self deprecating story of your own incompetence into an uplifting tale of ingenuity and triumph? Read on.
I was riding the Scattante home a few days ago when I noticed that the slight wobble in the rear wheel (yes, the wheel I rebuilt a little over a month ago) had become quite a bit more than slight. I could hear it rubbing on the worn-out brake pads and could even feel it a little bit as I pedaled. "That's it," I thought. "The Black Fly is coming up in less than two weeks and I need to start doing all of the maintenance I can to this thing."
I headed straight into the basement. Still in my cycling clothes, I pulled the tire and chucked the wheel into the truing stand. It was way, way out of whack. I had put so much tension into one part of the wheel in an attempt to straighten the crash damage from last year that the whole thing was starting to potato-chip in the opposite direction. "OK." I thought. "I'll just de-tension the whole thing and start again."
As I worked my way around the wheel, loosening spokes, I heard a crack, then another, and another. A closer examination of the rim revealed that it was cracking apart. Thinned by the relentless abrasion of the worn out brake pads (including the steel pad retainer clips that had become exposed), the now-machined rims had been thinned down to nothing in a number of places. This rim was trash.
I ran upstairs to the computer and ordered a pair of new rims and the spokes to rebuild both wheels. Then I ran back downstairs to finish disassembling the wheel. With that complete, I hung what was left of the Scattante on a hook and brought up my Trek fixie for the next day's commute.
On the way home from that commute, it dawned on me that I had announced to my fellow riders that this coming Sunday we would do a training ride on 40ish miles of dirt road somewhere to get ready for the Blackfly. I mentally cataloged the bikes in the basement. Folder (too small, completely disassembled), Mountain Bike (single speed, geared way to low for that long of a ride), Fixie (no clearance even if I could find a pair of cross tires by Sunday), Good road bike (sacrilege! nice pavement only!) Wife's road bike, wife's cross bike (fat chance- she's seen what I do to my bikes.).
Down in the basement again, the inner mad scientist took over. Off went the rear wheel from the single speed mountain bike. Off with its tire, too. Off with the single cog and spacers. On with the 9 speed cassette from the dead wheel. Oops, the hub from the single was only wide enough for 8. I picked a cog that looked like I wouldn't need it for the next couple of days and left it out.
I always wondered why I kept those 26X1.25" slicks from my first fixie. I threw one on the rim. Finally, I removed the brake pads from the rear brake. I've been using the front brake exclusively for weeks now anyway.
And there you have it. The eight speed, knobby 700X52 front /slick 26X1.25 rear, one-brake solution to what happens when things fall apart a few days before go time. I'm glad it happened this week instead of next week, anyway.
Now, to come up with a route for Sunday's ride...