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.
Hey Bike Noob,
You should pick up a Crank Brothers 19, it has an 8mm Hex and 18 other items like a chain tool and three spoke wrenches. I used to carry an old Wally World tool and when I found the Crank Bro 19 I nknew it was what I had to have for these long rides out and back. Here is a picture of one When my Crank fell off it happend just the yours did, wierd feeling peddle strokes and then a crank in the road, had mine fixed and back on the road in about 4 minutes. Be good, @plochman
Bike Noob says
Michael, that’s the tool the guy had to do the roadside fix. Thanks for checking in.
Dude that sucks!
Wonder what’s causing that.
Janice in GA says
So glad you weren’t cranking up a hill or something when that pedal came off! I must have the same Park tool as you do — mine only goes up to a 6 too. Maybe I need to reconsider my tool options. I ride by myself a lot, though I’m not usually THAT far from home. But I hate to have to call to be rescued.
If you do alot of your own work on the bike, if you don’t already have one, a torque wrench is a good investment, it won’t completely prevent something from jiggling loose, but it will happen less often.. and less chance of stripping hte threads when you tighten to the exact manufacturer recommendation. I bought one about 13 years ago.. one of the best bike tools I own.
Sine Botchen says
This post caused to me to stop and immediately check my tool inventory.. nope, no 8mm allen wrench. Of all the bike specific tools I own, I could not believe I didn’t have something as simply generic as an 8mm allen. Lately I’ve been hearing a creaking sound from the right front part of my drivetrain and now I’m going to be paranoid until I can check that crankarm bolt. Thanks for the post!
Such a bummer. I agree on the Crank Bros 19. Great tool and so nice and compact. Best tool I’ve found to fit in a small camera case with patch, CO2 and inflator in my jersey pocket.
But those things just happen. My wife heard this sound of something clinking down the road with her, and stopped to find that the large washer/nut on her self extracting crank arm had jumped ship. Surprisingly, she found it. Bizarre things happen at the weirdest times.
I’ve had the same thing happen except the crank arm stayed attached to my foot because the pedal was still attached to my shoe.
Bike Noob says
I don’t know if I feel better that it’s happened to someone else, or if I should be concerned that this kind of thing happens at all.