Tuesday, May 31, 2011

When Stupid Strikes

Life requires regularly scheduled maintenance, whether it is your cars motor oil, getting your teeth cleaned, or your bike's running gear. It can be a little frustrating to have to replace your bike's cog set especially if you’ve been diligent (or so you thought) about chain maintenance. But you know sooner or later you are probably going to have to replace those little gears, such is the way with moving parts of a machine.

But sometimes you have to replace parts that are damaged because for a brief moment you absentmindedly climbed to the summit of Mt Stupid, just to check out the view, oblivious to the storehouse of banana peels that the evil flying monkeys have dropped there in hopes that the stupids won’t notice as they stare off into the void.

Such a moment befell me and the big horse this weekend. Now I won’t say the big horse is any smarter (or stupider) than the average bicycle, so in this matter it is entirely possible that I bear the lion’s share of responsibility for this escapade.

It all started out innocently enough on Saturday morning: Mrs. C and I chose to ride a 100K perm, starting at the Centralia Safeway. This was to be a significant challenge for my better half: She’s wanted to do this for some time but due to a series of illnesses and ill timed work demands it had not happened, until Saturday. Long story short, we made it around the course within the prescribed time limit. I am extremely proud of her and was really bubbling over as we loaded the bikes up on top of the Subee for the drive home. “Want anything before we head home?” I asked. She suggested we swing by one of our fave MomnPop H-burger spots, Bill&Bea’s, just a block from where we were. Those of you who have your stupid sensors set on ultra stupid alert may already be experiencing a heightened sense of concern.

Yup, you guessed it; I drove the Big Horse into the drive through overhang at the H-burger shack! I could make a myriad of excuses like:
  • I hardly ever drive the Subee with bikes up anymore, most of my bike transport these days involves the yuppie mini pick up;
  • I was semi-delirious from the combination of my own efforts and my jubilation over Mrs. C’s accomplishment;
  • I was obsessed with making sure that the little towel I was sitting on didn’t allow any greasy sweat/lube stains on the upholstery. Let’s see, what else … oh yes!
  • There was a momentary flash of disorienting sunshine blinding me and causing a hard drive crash.
Well, the metaphorical truth is I was staring out at the wondrous view from the summit of Mt Stupid and doing a little victory jig all the while oblivious to the metaphorical banana peels and the cackle of the evil flying monkeys.

Immediately upon contact I had the two conflicting sensations; The sickening realization that it was the bike hitting some old fairly rotten fascia boards and not the Subee wheel hitting an old crumbling curb, and the hope against hope that comes with the realization/rationalization that I was actually barely creeping along and thus might have done only minor damage. This by the way, essentially eliminates any sensation of hunger.

45 minutes later back at the ranch, I carefully brought the wounded worrier down off the rack. The contact had been primarily with the left ergo shifter. I examined this first and was encouraged to find that all the workings were working, the housing showed no obvious trauma other than a little minor cosmetic damage; Chorus is now horus, oh well. I tried to slip the wheel into the fork and it was a no go. The front fender had been crumpled a bit, it had bottomed out on the bike rack mount. The H-bars had been turned a few degrees on the steerer tube, that ought to be easy enough to fix.

Out to the shop I removed the damaged fender, loosened the stem bolts and straightened up the bars, it all looked pretty good. I slipped the wheel into the drop outs, OK good so far. Now cam the front brake closed and …oops what’s this, the brake pads close in on the rim on one side. On closer inspection the brake pads seem out of alignment with the rim, and the fork legs. Maybe the brake bolt was somehow goofed up? Looking closer at the fork crown it’s pretty clear that the fork legs are no longer parallel, and it looks like they are no longer aligned with the head tube. Uh oh.

Next day at the LBS the problem is perfectly clear, the fork has been bent out of alignment, both legs, just by differing degrees. Looks like the H-bars may be OK. After some discussion with the bike mech/frame maker we come up with options:

Option A: “I could possibly re-rake the fork and get it back close to right, but there’s no guarantee about it’s integrity".

Option B: A new fork.

A is bad to unacceptable, B is painful but provides long term security for a big guy like me. It also portends a multi-week lay down for the big horse.
Damn those evil flying monkeys!

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