When I’m riding my bike, I’m in the zone. Okay, maybe not “the” zone, but a zone none the less. That is to say, I’m oblivious to outside distractions, not including traffic and road conditions. I’m in sync with my machine, my body and motion are all one. We may not be a high performance machine, but we function completely as one unit, in harmony.
Occasionally, that harmony is disturbed by some force or tear in the space/time continuum and my mojo is ripped out from under me. Such is the case with previous encounters with knuckleheads in shiny metal boxes, you know who you are. And of course the potential flat tire can also ruin the mojo’s vibe/mood as well. Those moments when the smooth road (as smooth as it gets for New Jersey) feeling turns harsh, you get that squirrelly feeling as if one of your wheels loose and you feel every blemish in the tarmac. That, is called a flat tire. Inconvenient yes, but not ride ending unless if you are out of patches, lack another tube or don’t have a means to inflate it. Then it is a phone call to the wife to come pick you up and hope she is in good mood to do so, or not at the beach.
Those minor inconveniences are nothing compared to the ultimate ride ending disruption in one’s harmony as a complete mechanical or structural failure of the machine. All the regular maintenance in the world will not stop failure of a component or frame. When it feels it is time to check out, check out it will and likely without consulting you first. Now some failures are minor and may still enable you to limp home but they are still ride ending failures none the less. Your rear derailleur snaps off and you have to convert your bike to a single speed (Checked off on my list). Your seat post breaks and you have to ride home standing up (not checked off).
Then there are the catastrophic failures. The head-tube snaps and the bike folds under you. For that matter, any frame failure (check) is ride ending if not rider ending. These type of failures are the ultimate of inconveniences and in most cases concludes with a phone call and a lot of money. One example I will not go into now would be one that ended my ride, could have ended my life, but created an interesting adventure for myself and a good friend. That story will have to be another blog. But the point is catastrophic failure, bad.
Then there are the unrealized failures. These are ones that happen and you don’t know it until you get home. These moments are the ones that would verify the existence of the “Guardian Angel”. Physics, math, engineering and science goes a long way to explain how things work but they do not explain how things continue to work when in reality, there is no freaking way in hell they should.
Case in point, the photograph above.
Knowing full well that the vast majority of roads in New Jersey are slightly less than abysmal, the roads I go cycling on, for the most part, are not that bad. While most towns in this state view “road improvement” as a shovel full of asphalt patted down into a crater, the towns in my area take it a step further and use two shovel fulls to give the road surface that complete lumpy feeling. This, as you can imagine, can be the setting for a comical vision to the onlooker as cyclists swing madly from left to right to avoid the worst of these mounds. More often than not, the local road crews do their best to not fill the hole completely and allow for a subterranean fracture in which a new pothole of unfathomable size and depth will open within the confines of the surrounding bumpy stuff. Much in the way a volcano collapses in on itself, leaving behind a tiny mound in the middle surrounded by a chasm deep enough to lose children in and usually filled with water. At which point it all ends up looking like this after a week.
Usually these conditions exist only in one location; Corners and intersections. Which as you know, is where turns usually take place and since my usual ride is a jumble of turns, I suffer the consequence of these surface interruptions.
At some point during this ill fated ride, I must have crossed over one of these well placed obstacles and just powered through it and doing my best to be as light on the pedals and handlebars as I could. Apparently not enough.
I don’t know when the hub on my front wheel decided it had enough. I didn’t feel anything out of the ordinary except as I got nearer to home, it seems harder to move the bike forward. I thought, as anyone might have, that I was just tired. Whatever the case, I pushed on. I got home, parked the bike in the shed next to my Harley, locked it all up and went into the air conditioning.
Imagine my surprise the next day when I went to go for a ride. My usual routine includes pumping up the tires to 100 psi before taking off. I did the back, all good. I went to do the front and the wheel wouldn’t spin around so the valve was near me. I thought the wheel was caught on something so I moved the bike back. Still wouldn’t move. Finally picked the bike up and moved it back three feet and it still wouldn’t rotate. What the hell? I grabbed the wheel and spun it hard, it rotated 90° and stopped. I did it again, same result.
“Now how in the hell did the wheel go out of true”? I asked aloud to myself. This resulted in my grabbing spokes to see if any were looser than others.
No, no, no, no, no, no, floppy….. wait, what? That’s when I noticed the broken hub. My heart sunk. It took me a good ten minutes to come to grips with what I was looking at. What this meant and what it might cost me. Knowing that I have a very rare 28 spoke wheelset, getting a matching 28 Hole hub would prove impossible. Re-Lacing a wheel is something I’ve never done, buying spokes is something I’ve never done and I later found out that having it all done would prove more costly than buying a new wheel. Which I did, for $99, but it’s not here yet. That is versus a New (NOS) hub at $40, New Spokes $110, Having wheel built $50. My math isn’t that great, but I can see that there are a lot of dollar signs there.
Is the new wheel the same brand? No, but I’m going to have to put my Obsessive Compulsive disorder aside now that my wheels won’t match, but it will bother me until I give into it and buy the matching rear wheel. I know me all too well. Thanks to Performance Bike for their years of great service and support!!!
So if it’s getting harder to pedal, consider that you may not just be tired. Your wheels might be.