Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Spokes and Bunnies, Nothing is Safe

Left at 5:00 for the usual ride to work. The forecast called for a slight chance of light rain but nothing was falling when I left. It was uneventful until I was on the trail behind the Jumpers strip mall. The first rain started to fall and it appeared that it might be accelerating. Then I herd a distinct TWANG that is familiar to heavy bikers. Sure enough I could then feel the rear wheel dragging on the brake each revolution. I'd busted a spoke. I don't recall hitting a pothole or other obstacle. Just ridding along and it broke, honest Dad, I didn't do anything.. Oh sorry I'm digressing.

So it's dark, it's starting to rain and my bike is busted. I carry a super sized multi-tool with a gazzillion tools on it, including a spoke wrench. I also ride Surly Long Haul Trucker. It's a touring bike meant to be rugged, simple to maintain/repair and self sufficient. It came with two spare spokes in the standard build. They are attached to special braze-ons affixed to the left chain stay. The wheels are Alex Adventurers with 36 spokes. I've got what I need to deal with this, but it's dark and starting to rain.

I opted not to try a spoke replacement in the field. It was a left side (non drive side) spoke that broke. So the rim warpped to to the right. I took up a little tension (1/2 a turn) on the left spoke either side of the brake, and eased a little tension on the right side immediately opposite the break. That got the wobble down to where it stopped rubbing the breaks. Then wrapped a zip tie between loose end and an adjacent spoke to it wasn't flopping inside the wheel causing problems.

That got me to work without further incident. At lunch, in a well lit office, I took a few minutes to fit one of the spares and true the wheel as best I could.

The SPP had set a plan for a Tuesday evening ride that would conclude at the local pizza shop. If I ride down the trail, I'd pass right behind the pizza place. So while they were riding a loop to Sandy Point and Annapolis, I was heading south form the airport and met them at the shop for the za. My wheel repair appeared to hold up well. John, Janet, Jeff, Jim, Jane, Earl and Lori were already seated when I arrived. It was nice mid-week break from the routine.

After dinner I had a few more miles in the dark to ride home. Riding the trail always includes games of chicken with the local population of bunnies and squirrels. I've never made contact and only rarely did I have to swerve to avoid one. They usually start in a bad direction, see me, then change course and get clear with inches to spare. I just hold my speed and try to ride straight so they don't have to guess where I'm going. Well in the dark this bunny wasn't so quick. He made contact with front spokes but did not fall beneath a wheel. By the time I could stop and look he was gone. No blood or fur that I could see on the bike, so I don't really know if he was hurt or not.


  1. When I saw the title of the post I was intrigued. As I started reading I thought the bunny had gone through your wheel. Thank god it didn't as that would have been a nasty mess!

  2. Yeah, that would have been awful. Fortunately I wasn't that bad, though I have seen dead bunnies and squirrels on the trail that clearly lost their encounters with a bike.