I Am A Lousy Learner

Summer has hit Central Texas with a vengeance. It’s been hot, yes, but because of more rain than I’ve seen in several years, it’s been humid, too.

I was out on a club ride last weekend when suddenly my derailleur started acting up. I had trouble shifting from the big ring down to the small ring. I stopped to fiddle with it a bit, and got the problem straightened out.

But then during the past week, it cropped up again. I put the bike up on my stand and went after that derailleur. It took me two hours to do what a competent bike mechanic could do in 10-15 minutes, but the adjustments worked, and later that day I did a local 21-mile ride.

The next morning though, it was balky again. Not shifting from the big to the small ring. Again, some less than gentle ministrations and I was rolling, but this time, I decided to take it in to our club mechanic.

I explained to him about the derailleur adjustments I’d made, and how my ham-handedness probably screwed things up. He didn’t comment, but put the bike up on his stand and flicked at the front derailleur cable.

“Did you lube the pivot points?” he asked.

“Ahh, that’s about the only thing I didn’t do,” I replied.

Then the light went on. “Are they gummed up from my sweat?” I asked.

He moved the derailleur with his hand. “Looks like it,” he said. “Summer’s here, and up until about a week ago we didn’t have to worry about it too much. But now, we sweat on rides. And the front derailleur is a prime target for sweat.”

I did a face palm. We’d been through this before. But as he said, we’ve had nice conditions for our morning rides until just recently, and I hadn’t been sweating much.

He got the derailleur moving nicely between the big and small chainring. I paid him his usual pittance, and red-faced with embarrassment, loaded the bike into my car.

This morning, we did a hilly club ride and I was using all my gears constantly. The derailleur performed flawlessly.

I sweated like I was in a sauna. The first thing I did when I got home was wipe the bike down.

I’ve had this lesson before. Somehow, I just didn’t retain the information.


  1. Kathleen says

    On my bike it is sport drink that causes shifting problems. I have learned the hard way the importance of washing it off after every ride. And sometimes in the middle of a day-long ride.

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