Yesterday, when my alarm went off at 5:30am, I attempted to reset the alarm for 6:00am, but in my daze it appears that I didn’t get it set. So 6:00am came and went and a little after 7:00am my eyes opened and I had that moment of confusion and panic where you’re not sure what’s going on, then you realize that you’ve been asleep and that you’ve woken up on your own, which is odd because normally it takes an alarm… crap! My alarm didn’t go off, what time is it! Once fully awake, I had to decide what I was going to do. Do I bail on today’s ride because I’ve missed my window of opportunity, or do I adjust my clients so that I can ride? Ten minutes later I was coasting down the hill. 🙂

I went the same route that I went the day before. 10 miles would be a good ride and it would give me something to compare from. Would I climb better on the same hills? My bootie was definitely more tender from the day before and it took a few miles for me to settle into the saddle. My climbing wasn’t much better, but I did notice that I was more aware of what my problems were rather than just focusing on the pain and difficulty. My form is way off and my cadence is erratic at best. I need to do some work on the stationary bicycle to help repair my form.

When I made it to the halfway point, which is at the intersection of Petus and Nolesville, I was feeling pretty good. I was still having difficulty, but my spirits were up and I could tell that there was an ever so slight improvement from yesterday. My biggest climb was just ahead on Petus and I was ready to attack it. My plan was to ride further up the hill than I did the day before. I didn’t have any expectations of making it to the top, but I was definitely going further.

As I started to make the climb, I could tell that it was going to be a challenge, so I dropped down to my lowest mid-range gear. My cadence picked up and I started spinning my way up the hill when all of a sudden – B A M – there was a loud sound followed by an immediate halt of the bike as a loud grinding sound continued until I was at a complete stop. I was lucky enough to get my foot out of the cleat in time and I dismounted the bike. Looking towards the rear wheel, I was shocked to see that the rear derailleur had snapped from its mount, crumpled into a ball and wedged itself into the rear spokes. This is the equivalent of seeing your engine explode in your car.

I was 5 miles from home, with no cell phone, no chain tool in a rural section of town. I carried my bicycle up a ways to wide spot in the road, leaned it against a fence post and sat down on the ground. Sitting there I weighed my options, of which there were few. If I had a chain tool, I could possibly break the chain and shorten it, thus making my bike a fixed gear. I didn’t have a chain tool. If I had my cell phone I could call Holly to come pick me up. I didn’t have a cell phone. That left me with two options: 1) carry Juliet home on my shoulder, or 2) remove the derailleur and walk the bike home. Although I love Juilet, she’s heavy and I didn’t cherish the idea of having to carry her 5 miles, so I set on removing the derailleur.

With minimal tools, I was able to pry the chain out from the derailleur. That left a LOT of slack in the chain which made my bike a zero gear, not a fixed gear, but at least I could walk the bike. Once I started pushing it up the hill is when I realized that the rear wheel was way out of alignment and rubbing up against the frame. Luckily I had a spoke wrench, so I mangled the tension on the spokes so that it was more aligned. It wasn’t pretty, but it would get me home.

As I started walking down the hill, I had the idea of coasting downhill. It seemed silly to walk it downhill at 2.5 MPH when I could coast at 20mph. My rear brake was disabled and I had zero gears, but what the heck – what could go wrong? 😛 Screaming down the hill was both fun and scary. I couldn’t pedal for fear of the chain flying into the wheel, so I had to stay perfectly still. Once at the bottom, or in a flat section, I would hop off and walk it. It took about an hour, but I made it home eventually.

Given that I had started late, having the mechanical difficulty made me all the later. I showered and dressed as fast as I could and hauled butt to my clients. I didn’t get done until late that evening, so I ran by REI to see what they had in the way of a rear derailleur. I found an inexpensive Shimano for $20.00 and I bought it. However I was way too tired to try to install it, so I left it for the next day.

Distance: 10.01 Miles
Ride Time: 3:15
Average Speed 7.26 MPH
Maximum Speed 34.2 mph