Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Unintended Consequences

Every so often, I experience a Perfect Storm - a seemingly unrelated series of events, that by themselves, are harmless and maybe even amusing. But a certain combination of annoying, amusing events can be catastrophic. That happened to me yesterday just after I left for my ride to work.

It all started when I put new tires on my bike - Schwalbe Marathons.

The Marathons rode great for my Pumpkinvine Ride in Goshen. I did notice that they are stiffer than my previous tires from Specialized. The new Marathons make for a bumpier ride. But I really like the way they roll and grip the road.

My Nite Rider headlamp, however, didn't seem to like the added vibrations. Actually, when I put the headlamp back on the handlebar mount, I didn't click it into place. It didn't even cross my mind - I just slid it into the mount and headed out.

A mile and a half later on our horse-battered road, and the headlamp slipped out of the mount, swung down and around by it's battery umbilicus, right into the back side of my front wheel spokes. (This below is a poorly executed re-creation - do not try this at home).

The headlamp in the spokes stopped my quicker than I could react, with the exception of my left hand, which unwittingly squeezed the brake lever. I stopped quicker than my brain could figure what was happening, and I fell to the side of the road in the grass. Feet still in the pedals.

I was able to pull the headlamp out OK, but it bent four spokes during the entry.

When I squeezed the brake lever, the right side brake pad connected with the rim, then when the headlamp entered the spokes, deflected the rim to the left so that the brake pad slipped under the rim's side wall.

The brake pad housing gouged a perfect gnurl of aluminum from the side of my rim, all the way around.

I pulled the brake pad out, rode home, got in my truck and drove to work, still scared of what had happened. Last night, I replaced the two worst-bent spokes and am ready to leave for work now. I did put a zip-tie around the wire between the headlamp and the battery so the headlamp can't fall into the spokes again.

Talk about freak accidents, sheesh! Anyway, bike seems to be in good order now.

Be safe out there!


Oldfool said...

Reminds me of my stray bungee cord. Fortunately I didn't bend or break anything but it sure scared the crap out of me.

Big Oak said...

Funny how those things tend to "grab" your attention, huh?

331 Miles said...

Seemingly minor misadjustments or absent-minded mistakes can cause so much damage to bikes. I've had similar things happen to me too, such as battery-powered headlamps falling off while cycling.

Jon said...

I would give serious consideration to replacing that rim, if it was mine. That gouge is a perfect stress riser, and a front rim fracture as you are riding would not be on my list of "fun things".

Mike J said...

You're right, that was the perfect storm of bike parts. Bikes are really simple machines sometimes but not in your case. Glad it worked out for you.

Doohickie said...


Rat Trap Press said...

Wow! I'm glad that you weren't seriously injured.

Big Oak said...

Thanks for all your comments. I've been wondering if that gouge might have some serious consequences. I think I'll order a new rim.