Monday, April 4, 2011

He spoke of spokes....

It was 48 deg F when I set out this morning forecast to reach the upper 70s for the ride home. I was really looking forward to that!

So I set out a few minutes after 6 looking forward to nice rides each way. As I stood to zip over the Rusty Bridge on the trail I heard the loud TWANG! of a spoke letting go. I stopped at the top and sure enough, a rear left spoke had popped at the hub. I didn't have the right size spare as I hadn't replaced it yet from the prior week's mishap. The wobble wasn't bad so I secured the loose end with a little electrical tape and continued on my way.

As I stood to climb over the Stewart Ave overpass crossing I-97 I heard it again!! Sure enough a second one let go also on the left side of the rear wheel. I briefly considered trying to cannibalize a front spoke but I know that's the wrong length and seemed like a good way to add more problems. I resolved not stand up and just geared down for the rest of the ride and made it to work without further incident. Despite these recent snaps, a 36 spoke wheel is pretty sturdy and these were spaced in such a way that the wheel wobble was minimal with no rubbing on the brakes.

At lunch I borrowed a colleague's car to pick up several spares at BD Linthicum. After the work day wound up I replaced the two on the wheel, and fitted two spares in to the storage space on the left side chain stay of the Surly LHT.

So I set out for home a half our later than I would have liked but the ride was uneventful. It was glorious to be out in short sleeves and bare legs. On the ride home the climbs up Brightview Rd and Woodbury Rd are both steeper and longer than the overpasses that assaulted my wheel, but I got up them entirely without incident.

The Surly goes to BD Arnold for an overhaul anyway on Wednesday, while I'm traveling to Richmond. I'll ask them to re-lace it while they have the bike. Preferably with something made from kevlar or titanium or some other super spokes.

Day 4 of #30daysofbiking complete.


  1. How many spokes have you had go on you? In the last 4,500 miles on two bikes and three different sets of wheels I've had none. The worst was a loose spoke.

  2. I've lost count. It's always while commuting, loaded with a pannier centered right over the rear hub. Keep in mind my battle with rider weight stalled out and I'm still quite a bit heavier than you and Clive and others who have been more disciplined about your diet. So rider plus baggage when I commute (maybe 12 - 15 lbs with a laptop and change of clothes) is a heavy load.

    Talking to the mechanic at the bike shop we concluded I'm using a wheel inadequate to the task. So he's building me a new rear wheel with spokes designed for a tandem. Since the same shop helped me originally configure the bike and components, they offered to do it at their cost for parts, and waive all labor charges.