The new year kicked off with a smorgasbord of different rides. It seemed everyone wanted to get out on their bikes on January 1. Mrs. Noob and I decided to do the “Resolution Ride,” sponsored by Bicycle Sports Shop and Austin Cycling Camp. The 9 a.m. start didn’t faze us, since we have long since stopped going out on New Year’s Eve and braving the highways on “amateur night.”
Anyhow, got there in plenty of time, and the first two people I run into are two of my favorite Twitter pals, Torsten (@twtx61) and Tim (@T_Starry).
They were both doing the 50-mile option, but Pat and I decided to do the 25-mile distance. The plan was for me to go out at my own pace, then wait for her at the end. Since there was beer and tacos at the end, that wouldn’t be too much of a problem.
But I sensed a problem several miles into the ride. My left foot felt like it was rocking on the pedal. I’ve felt that sensation before, and it turned out to be a bad cleat. However, I know that cleat is in pretty good shape, so I was trying to figure out the cause of the rocking.
My left heel felt a bump. I looked down, and saw that my heel was hitting my left chainstay. Wow, I thought, that cleat must be coming loose! Since I carry a multi-tool with me, I decided to stop at the top of the next hill and tighten the cleat.
I never got there. Suddenly, I heard a “clank,” and my foot fell into thin air. I looked down at a horrifying sight – no left crankarm or pedal!
I stopped the bike, got off and looked back down the road. There it was – about 20 yards back. Some cyclists coming up behind me were pointing at it, and wondering who the poor sap was who — oh, it must be this guy, as they saw me walk toward the crank and pedal lying in the middle of the shoulder.
“Hey, ya need anything?” came the familiar call, as each cyclist passed me. This time, I said something other than, “Nope, I’m good.”
“You got an 8 mm Allen wrench?” I called out. Lots of sheepish looks as they pedaled by. One guy thought he did, but it was the same Park Tools multi-tool I have, that only goes up to 6 mm. I plunked down on the guardrail at the side of the road. Although this was a non-supported ride, Bicycle Sports Shop did have a van on the route, helping with more than routine repair jobs.
One guy had a novel idea. “Use my car key,” he said. I’ll be darned – it worked, up to a point. At least I got the pedal bolt screwed in about halfway. I didn’t want to risk more than that. “Thanks, but I don’t want to bend your key,” I told him. “I’ll wait for the van.”
Pat caught up to me, and told me the van was helping with a flat tire a little ways back. I told her to keep going. I would either get fixed and catch her, or I would be a while, and meet her back at the shop later on.
One of the Austin Cycle Camp riders pulled up, and he had a super-deluxe spiffed-out multi-tool that had an 8 mm.
In no time, the bolt was tightened, and the pedal was securely back on the bike. I hopped back on, and caught Pat about a mile down the road. We had a great ride, with the wind mostly at our back on the return leg.
So, why the heck did the crank come off? It’s not the first time it’s loosened up. I had the bike tuned last fall, and the mechanic mentioned that he tightened it. I do the ABC Quick Check before each ride (except this one), but the day before it was tight.
It’s an easy fix. I’ve got an 8 mm Allen wrench, but it’s part of a set I keep in the garage. Clearly, I couldn’t get at it when I was 30 miles from home. This afternoon, that wrench came off the set, and is now ensconced in my seat bag.
I think I’m also going to have to be more attuned to the tiny variations in my bike’s feel. If I know the cleat doesn’t seem right, for example, I’m going to stop right away and check it out – not wait until I get to the top of the next hill.