We took a nice easy ride on good roads in good weather again today, but the day started badly and got worse before it got better. The sequence of events included bad luck, good luck, a mistake, more good luck, and a save.
Bad luck: Yesterday morning in the rain, I probably ran over some debris that became embedded in my back tire.
Good luck: The tire did not flatten on the road; it flattened overnight at the hotel where it’s easier to change. So after rushing to pack this morning, I removed the back wheel from the bike, removed the old damaged tube from the tire, and checked inside the tire to see what might have punctured the tube. There I found two small wires (from retreads shed by trucks) and a small piece of glass, each embedded in a different place in the tire. Any one of them could have flattened it. Next Cindy, an ABB staffer, helped me remove the wires and glass from the tire and also checked my front tire, which was fine. Then I replaced the damaged tube and re-installed the back wheel on the bike. Ready to roll—I thought.
A mistake: When I re-installed the wheel on the bike, I unknowingly caught a wire that carries electrical signals from the shifter on the handlebars to the rear derailleur. Everything seemed fine at the time, but soon after I started pedaling, the caught wire wrapped around the rear sprockets and tore! Because these electronic shifters are much harder than old-style cable shifters to fix on the fly, I thought I was dead in the water for at least a day if not more! I said a few bad words.
More good luck: Fortunately, this all happened when the team’s two mechanics were nearby, Rob on a bike and Robyn in the mechanics’ van. Rob almost immediately started suggesting possible fixes, including installing a cable shifter in the end of my handlebar and a second-hand, cable-actuated derailleur at the rear hub. This was reassuring, but it would have to be done later. For now I’d have to ride with the rear derailleur stuck, so my 20-speed bike would now be a 2-speed (as there are two gears in the front). Rob pointed out that I could adjust a low-limit screw to shift if I really needed to change gears, but luckily the gear in which the bike was stuck was a middle one, so the bike was at least rideable on flat terrain like today’s.
A save: I at least had the presence of mind to save the two seemingly useless pieces of torn wire, each of which included a connector at its un-torn end, and we gave them to Robyn to carry in the van. He said he’d see what he could do with them. Scott, Kees and I then rode on for about 30 miles to the first SAG stop with my 2-speed bike. When we arrived, Robyn was there with the wire spliced back together! He put my bike on the bike stand, re-installed the spliced wire, and it worked beautifully! I was ready to roll again. Thanks Robyn! Phew.
Robyn standing triumphantly next to my bike, now working, on the bike stand
At one point in the ride, we came across this tiny two-person chapel on a little dock in the middle of a pond. The sign says it’s the world’s smallest church and that it’s available for special occasions and meditation. I recalled seeing this little church before, during a cycling trip to Lake Oneida a few years earlier.