An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Calling AAA...

Whenever I'm on a ride and see a cyclist at the side of the road or trail, I ask if they need anything, if they're okay. The usual response is "I'm fine" or something to that effect. Cyclists can be an independent lot.

My wife and I had returned from a trip to Alaska (a subject for another time), and I had an extra day of vacation. She gave me a hall pass for a long ride.

I was about 2 hours into a 3+ hour ride, along a multi-use rail-trail conversion, when I saw three gentlemen on the side of the trail with an inverted bike. Like men do when confounded by things mechanical, they were circled around the bike, staring, with that "hmph" look. You know the look. Just lift the hood of any car and let the males gather, and observe -- it doesn't matter whether any of them know what's going on under there, they all get the same expression...

Anyway, I gave my usual "You folks okay?" greeting and got a response I'd never heard before -- "NO!"

Okay, to be completely honest, with an almost-three-year-old, that's probably the most-used word in the household. But this is the first time I've gotten that response in this setting.

I stopped and leaned my bike against the bench that was serving as their make-shift tool shelf, and walked around to see what I could do.

"I don't think we've got this right."

What I observed then was something that required some certain amount of talent to accomplish, and I wish I'd taken a picture. It was apparent that the bike in question had suffered a flat on the rear tire, and while they'd gotten the tube replaced appropriately, replacing that wheel into the frame and getting the chain threaded in the proper manner is what vexed them. They had, SOMEhow, managed to get the chain onto the cassette threaded BETWEEN the rear derailleur jockey wheels. WITH the quick release in place.

As I said, I wish I'd taken a picture.

Getting the wheel out was a bit of a chore. I had to remove the quick release and use some considerable force to get it out. After that point, it was an easy, if a bit messy, job of installing the wheel correctly. A spin of the cranks to make sure everything was moving freely, and it was road-worthy again.

One of them offered a handkerchief to wipe my hands of the excess of chain lube with which I'd coated my fingers, but I just wiped them on my shorts ("That's why they're made in black."). They thanked me profusely, to which I replied "No problem."

I grabbed my bike and rode on the rest of my route.

They were actually quite close to correct in threading in the wheel. Without pulling the rear derailleur out of the way when pushing the wheel into place, the logical place for that cog might just appear to be between the jockey wheels. How to physically accomplish that, though, is beyond me.

So check off one more thing from the list of "that's never happened".

I wonder how many other people passed these gentlemen before I stopped to help...

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