Here we go again.
Jesska makes a plan and life makes it impossible to see it through.
At the end of August I bought new fish.
They were quite expensive as cheap fish go (nothing like as expensive as posh koi) and quite a luxury considering that I don’t “need” fish for anything. I decided to not spend any money on anything but proper food (no unnecessary/luxury food like icecream) throughout September to make up for it.
That decision lasted until about midday on the 1st when I got a message from the lady I’d agreed to buy water plants from, asking when she could expect me. I made a mental exception for things-agreed-to-before-the-decision and went to pick up the plants.
I did very well for the next couple of days until I remembered that I’d told people that I was going to be flying home soon and hadn’t booked any flights yet. Flights are obviously not food, but going home and seeing my family are necessary things, so I started looking at flights. They were cheaper than expected around my birthday so I booked them too. Two trips planned more than a few days in advance – way to go Jesska! Except you weren’t planning on spending money.. Ho-hum.
Then it became clear that my tyres couldn’t get much balder before the inner tubes started to show, no matter how much I tried to convince myself otherwise.
I arranged an appointment at the bike shop.
It turns out you can’t get new tyres without new inner tubes (something about guarantees and warranties) and one of my tubes was thin enough to leak anyway. The brake pads were almost as bald as the tyres and the light bulb in my front light was dead. So far so good. I signed on the dotted line and went to work on the bus.
A couple of hours later, I got a call from the guy responsible for working on my bike. As he’d changed the tyres he’d noticed the chain was worn and the cassette (gears on the back wheel) could do with replacing… Me: yeah, go ahead. (I’d had the feeling the chain was getting old a couple of months ago, it wasn’t too much of a surprise to hear I needed a new one. Also, I’m going cycling in France next month and I need to know my bike will be up to the challenge. My French is very rusty and definitely not up to talking about bike problems.)
The next day I got the train (and a bus) to work.
I picked my bike up on the way to teach maths to one of my favourite 13 year olds.
Look at the shine!
Pedalling felt very odd but I couldn’t do anything about anything without being late for my lesson. I ignored the “crunchy vibrations” and rode on regardless.
The next morning I decided to go to work on the bike – if it was still weird when I got home I’d take it to the shop to be looked at again.
Those were almost famous last words.
There’s a very long bridge on the way to work, the only notable elevation change on a route that is otherwise almost entirely flat. My usual routine is struggle up to the top then change rapidly up through the gears so I can make the most of the decline.
Click, slide, scrunch, scratch, click, scrape, squarrk, clickclickclick, screeetch, klapper, schhhhhhh, wrrr
I didn’t make it into 3:8.
Instead I came to a crunchy, panicky, pedal-free halt just before one of my least favourite junctions. A tiny road joins the main road and for some reason a constant stream of lorries pulls across the tiny crossing, often without giving way to anyone, never mind cyclists on broken bicycles.
But, as I said, I stopped before the junction (lucky I had brand new brakes really ;)). Phew!
I got off to inspect the damage.
The chain, my beautiful, shiny, brand new chain, was broken and had wrapped itself between the gears, the ends hanging on the ground.. 🙁
I’d made it 2/3 of the way to work.
I walked the remaining few miles in the first rain in living memory (or at least in a couple of months) wondering what I’d done wrong (probably nothing) and what I should do differently in the future (also probably nothing).
The bike shop was incredibly kind to me on the phone. I almost definitely wasn’t as polite as I could have been but they were wonderful and arranged to meet me
for at lunch and mend my chain. For free. Obviously.
The bicycle repair man arrived exactly when he said he would and mended the chain in a matter of minutes. It would have been seconds if the chain hadn’t squished itself so well between rings and chainguard and bike frame. And if it hadn’t been so freshly greased. Luckily for both of us it wasn’t exactly broken, it had just come undone and he’d brought a replacement link.
The chain shouldn’t be able to come apart while cycling. There’d been a series of unfortunate events leading to the exact and uncommon chain undo-al I’d experienced. Neither he nor my brother have ever had a chain undo itself while cycling and they cycle most out of the people I know. I Take that to mean the chance of it breaking/coming undone again is pretty slim – a very good thing because I don’t want it to happen again.
Quick release chain joint – a brilliant idea until it isn’t.
After that he went for a test ride, muttered, adjusted various limit screws and tested and checked and cycled and hmmed and arrred and said that I should probably change the chain rings (gears near the pedals) too.
He’d left them because they weren’t terribly worn, but he thought there must be a few damaged teeth on each ring, enough to make changing gear difficult with a new (unstretched) chain.
The bike is going back to the shop next week. Until then, I’ll be cycling slowly and carefully and walking across crossroads!
Okay, somehow it’s taken me a while to add pictures and press publish.
The bike went in yesterday morning and I’m on the way to pick it up now…
*Fingers crossed the crunching’s gone and the gears do what they’re told*
(Oh yeah, the month is halfway over and I could have already, or at least by the time I’ve paid for the new chain rings, bought my new fish nearly ten times over…. I do love plans..)