Jacque Anquetil's 1962 Tour de France Winning Bike

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Big Bummer

Ride 163 started mundanely enough -- Brian and I met at Domingo Peet's, rode up Tunnel, and headed south on Skyline.  It was foggy and chilly.  I dressed barely adequately, feeling comfortable and sweaty on climbs and slightly chilly on descents.  As we kept riding south on Skyline, we began chatting about riding off road.  One thing led to another and we decided to take the dirt trail from the staging area at the end of Skyline and ride east around Lake Chabot toward Redwood.  The trail started as a fire road.  I was very happy with my Llewellyn's 32mm underinflated tires.  Traction and comfort were great.  Short drops, followed steep climbs.  Mountain bikers gave us weird looks as they saw out bikes.  The weather was improving.  Lake views were wonderful.  My first extended off-road ride was fun, exciting, and challenging.

We descended to the lake and turned north in search of a lakeside campground at the end of Maciel Road, two miles west of Redwood.  We ignored no bicycles signs.  The trail narrowed into a singletrack that climbed the hillside.  The hill was on my left, a precipice was on my right.  I rode reasonably confidently and comfortably, trying not to think about the starboard abyss.  I wasn't shy about unclipping often to get around tight hairpins and roots protruding into the trail.  With four days of Santa Ana winds last week, the trail was strewn with eucalyptus leaves and acorns, twigs, and rocks.  On one climb, I rode over a long and squiggly branch.  It kicked up into my wheel, the wheel took it to the rear derailleur, where it became lodged.  The rear derailleur rotated backward and exploded.  Derailleur hanger bent inward.  I could not run the chain through the derailleur.  It did not occur to me until now that I could have shortened the chain and bypassed the rear derailleur.  This wouldn't have  been easy without an 11-speed Campy chain tool anyway.

Brian came back toward me and was impressed with the damage.  I walked, he rode.  On downhills I remounted and coasted.  On flats, I had my right foot in the pedal and pawed the ground with my left as if skateboarding or riding a scooter.  This was surprisingly effective and I covered the ground reasonably well.  I was in a good mood.  This was an adventure, derailleur straightening is a simple repair, and I was motivated to go on more off-road rides.  We reached the campground in half an hour to 45 minutes.  There, we called Jessica for a ride and I started on Maciel, making my way toward Redwood; again, walking on uphills and coasting on descents.  Made a pretty good time, reaching Redwood by 9:20.  Jessica arrived about 10 minutes later.

At 11:00, I took the bike to a shop to have the derailleur hanger straightened.  The mechanic took a look at the bike and shook his head.  The hanger bent inward and rotated backward, as it had been pulled back.  They can bend it back out, but not forward.  Oh, and when the chain folded inward, it gouged and dented the right chain stay.  My face fell.  It's 5:04 p.m. as I type this, which means I've been really bummed for about six hours.  Bottom line: I'll need a new chain stay, a new derailleur hanger, and the rear end will have to be repainted.  Considering the frame builder is in Australia, this will take time and air freight is incredibly expensive, I may have to have it repaired locally.  And yeah, they say it'll be as good as new and functionally it may be, but...

At least I have other bikes to ride, though I wouldn't take off road my bikes that have clearance for only 25mm tires.


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