Friday, July 25, 2008

Hat's off to you, Felix Wong

I went out for an easy distance ride the other night. Apparently the chain suck I was experiencing the other day had nothing to do with a lack of lubrication. Apparently I unknowingly dinged it on a rock and subsequently weakened the chain so that during a moderate crank I snapped it.

This was a small problem and I had all the tools I needed on-hand. I even had a random paper clip that stood in as a chain holder. (Over the years this poor paperclip rattled around in my bag but every time I dumped out my tools and saw it there I'd think, "What am I going to do with a stupid paperclip." And then I'd quickly answer my own question, "You never know.")

In any case, this was a small matter handled in a town only two miles from home with people nearby that I knew and could give me a lift home if needed. But my relatively small knowledge of chain repair left me stranded for a half hour while I fumbled with my chain repair tool in the waning light. As I made the repair, my thoughts turned to the Tour Divide and how many mechanical problems poor Felix Wong ran into over the course of the race. He battled everything from a broken pump, cyclometer, to multiple flat tires. All in the middle of nowhere with no help even available. I can scarcely imagine the frustration he must have experienced as he fought to keep going despite the setbacks.

After that I thought I ought not to grumble about such a small inconvenience two miles from home.


AnnieOfBlueGables said...

I'm wondering if this bike repair was the reason your dad got involved in car repair later? He had sew-up tires on his beloved Peugeot, and he was ready for anything. He traveled many many miles on that bike.
I'm convinced the experience we get helps us later in life.
good innovation using the paper clip~


Felix said...

Hey! Someone forwarded me your post; thanks for it! It sounded like your chainsuck was even worse than mine; at least my chain didn't break. :) And that was very resourceful about using the paperclip for your chain!

The last week of the Tour Divide was pretty absurd and unlucky for me all right, although I have only myself to blame for many of the troubles.

E.g., it never occurred to me to bring a spare cyclometer, especially since the one I used for the race was brand new. I assumed it would last the 2,700 miles since the ones on my other bikes have lasted for years. That was a critical instrument for navigation, so shame on me.

I also feel pretty silly for not injecting 30 grams or whatever of sealant in all my tubes before the rides. That would have obviated 90% of my flats!

If I had used Loctite on the rear rack bolts, maybe my bike wouldn't now have a big hole in the frame.

You may be interested in some of my Tour Divide slideshows:

Happy cycling to you out there in the Bay!

-Felix Wong