We have tickets to one of the local theatres here, but the night we had wasn't going to work out. So, I needed to exchange them for another night. I also really wanted to play with the handbell choir at my church here, because I just haven't played in a really long time. Neither of these errands was particularly close to the house, but my husband had to transport something large to work that day, so he had the car.
My choice was to bike to these two places, or not to go.
I hadn't been biking for a couple of weeks, so I knew it would be tough going. Also, the front derailleur on my bike was broken off in the move, and I haven't gotten around to replacing it. That reduces my 21-speed bike to a more sedate 7-speed. And you never really know what set of seven you'll get, because the chain is rather loose, so it skips around on the front set of gears. I had bought a new front derailleur, but hadn't gotten around to installing it, because the one I got wasn't fancy enough to be installed around the chain, and I didn't have a chain tool to take my chain off and then to get it back on.
All this is just to point out that my bike isn't in tip-top condition. But that's okay -- I was just heading to a couple of places, and I didn't need to go in any particular hurry, so I decided to go for it. The theatre was first on the list, just 2 miles away, and mostly downhill. The last block I turned up a hill, and
The pedals stopped turning, the bike stopped abruptly, and it was all I could do to get my shoes unclipped before I fell over. I got the bike over onto a sidewalk to assess the issue. I had, somehow, ripped my rear derailleur off the bike. Sheared the bolt that holds it onto the frame. Never knew I had that much strength. I imagine my chain-with-issues got locked into some weird position, and the torque was just right as I had just started into an uphill.
My bike was completely useless. I managed to find a way to arrange the chain and derailleur so that I could still roll the bike. It's a touring bike, so it's a steel frame, and it's heavy. I don't think I could have managed if I'd had to carry it. I completed my ticket trade at the box office, and then decided I could walk my bike back up the hill to the house and skip bell practice OR I could wander over to the nearest bike shop and see if they could help me out. Well, I'd come this far.
And could they. There was a guy there that went right to work on making my bike ridable again. Yep, I'd really done a number on poor Randy. (We name all our modes of transportation. The car is named Bruno, in case you were wondering. My last car was named Hans. I know. Weird.) The guy at the shop trued up the wheel (it had gotten bent), managed to work the sheared half of the bolt out, bent the frame back in place, and set me up with a new chain and a fancy new derailleur. Well, not new, exactly, but it's a top-of-the-line used-for-one-month racing one that they sold to me for about 40% of its new value. I now have the fanciest component a crappy bike like mine has never seen the likes of.
So, there I was, an hour later with a bike as good as new. Well, there's still no front derailleur, but at least I was better off than when I left the house. It was starting to get dark, and I knew I wasn't going to make it the 10 miles to my church before I would need the bike light that I don't have. But, I'd made it this far, so I decided to go ahead and do it. I got lost twice, stopped at a gas station for Gatorade once, almost got run over...no times. It was a success, and I was ecstatic. It was fun to play handbells again, and then my husband picked me up for dinner and the ride home (since I really don't have a light on the bike).
That was the first week of December, and I haven't ridden my bike since. Even with the fancy new chain that doesn't need a tool to be disconnected, I haven't put the front derailleur on, either. Nor have I gotten a bike light....
The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers
2 months ago