2.16.2005

BROKEN CHAIN
an experience that usually adds up to be so much more


the bicycle is a simple machine
the single speed is a simplified version of that simple machine
(the fixed gear is even one step further into simplicity, but the fixie is not my world)
on a simple machine like the bicycle most every aspect of that machine is vital
if one part breaks the integrity of the bicycle as a whole is disrupted
sometimes the bike can still be ridden... other times it may not be
most of the time.... the cyclist will be traveling with the proper tools to repair the bicycle
or have some sort of McGyver-esque know how to get rolling again
traveling with the basic set of tools is essential in the utilitarian cyclists approach to riding

there is a worst case scenario for the breakage of any individual part on the bike....

the broken part can be a major hazard or a major hassle depending on the situation
a flat tire can cause a disastrous crash.... or maybe just a major inconvenience if the rider is without a tube/patch kit and pump
a broken seat or seat post could result in a serious injury if the rider just happens to be cruising along no handed when the failure occurs (as happened to an elite cyclist friend of mine)
a failing rim could allow the wheel to collapse and the tire to roll off leaving the bicycle wobbling out of control, depending on speed and terrain a variety of things may occur
no need for me to go down the list of each and every part on the bicycle and what could happen if that part were to break...
but rather skip ahead to the chain....

a broken chain will in most every case be potentially hazardous as well as a certain time delay and perhaps a hassle
last night I experienced a broken chain
if there is a god.... she may very well out for cyclists
or at least she was looking out for me or maybe it just is not yet my time
there may be some service left for me to do before I check out
this chain could have broken as I ran a red light
as I busted a move in traffic
or
as I was timing myself to be in and out of a "situation" in a fraction of a second
lucky for me the chain broke under the stress of stepping out of the saddle to accelerate while under the Memorial Bridge on the Mount Vernon Bike trail in Northern Virginia after I yielded to an oncoming cyclist allowing them to pass through the tunnel-like passage only wide enough for one pedestrian; runner, walker, bladder, or cyclist

there was a moment of panic
there was a moment of fear
there was a moment of helplessness
it was only a moment
but at it was the only moment that mattered
at this moment there was no concern about unpaid mortgage bills, back due visa bills, where Dean is going to go to school next year, or any of the other stressors that tend to occupy my mind each day
if this moment were not survived there would be no moments afterwards
this was clearly the only moment that mattered in my world

within that moment I heard the snap, crackle, and pop; unsweetened
then everything moved into slow motion
my knee smacked the stem and then the top tube of the bicycle frame
my left foot came out of the TIME pedals and my foot buckled onto the ground within my winter cycling shoes
my bike no longer pointed straight
the bars pointed into the metal guard rail that separated the bike path from the fast moving traffic on the George Washington Memorial Parkway
my equilibrium took on that strange helpless floating sensation that a person feels when they lean back in a chair too far, no longer having control to move forward and not yet falling back
the bike and my body slammed into the metal guardrail
my body collapsing over the bike, but not falling to the ground as the railing aided in keeping me vertical
painfully vertical as my upper body had awkwardly slammed on that metal railing... perhaps the best thing that could have happened
at a different angle my head could have slammed against the bar or worse yet I could have flipped over the bars into fast moving commuter traffic...

the speed was low which kept this incident from becoming a major accident
the location of the incident and the timing of the incident was perfect to keep me from colliding with another cyclist or worse yet a car

I knew exactly what had happened as this is not the first time I have experienced a broken chain
on the trail just a few feet behind me coiled like a snake was my now broken chain
I gathered the chain and moved off the trail to begin my repair
out of my pack I pulled my CRANK BROTHERS multi tool
then dug deeper for a 15mm wrench
my hand scanned blindly through the pouch of my pack
past various size tubes; 700c road tube for road or cross, 26 inch mountain tube, and 29 inch mountain tube
around the pump several times
sifting through dust, dirt, lint, and spare change
with a heavy and over dramatic sigh I pulled my hand from my pack and plotted my next move

without a 15mm wrench I could not move the rear wheel forward enough to compensate for the removal of the broken links
without a 15mm wrench my hands were tied
there I stood in Northern Virginia miles separating me from home, not an extreme distance, just some inconvenient miles

as I looked over the Potomac River at the Lincoln Memorial my mind became an ariel mapping program
the latest and greatest technology with 3-D animation
my mind soared over the river swooping down over the Memorial, then higher over the city as I plotted my course towards home

do I bisect the city through the urban streets?
or
do I cross the river and stay on the bike trail along Beach Drive?

the city route may be less miles, but more "stop and go" of the red lights and traffic as well as more hills for off the bike walking as I climbed
I figured if I took the bike path I could do a one legged scoot all the way home
coasting down the slight grades
letting the large 29 inch wheels roll rather than forcing my large size 13 feet walk

with cellular technology I told lisa I would be running late
as any good wife would.... she offered to pick me up... I declined
this walk would be part of the process... the education and the punishment
no lesson would be learned if I did not suffer for my lack of preparation

it was a tedious process to push, pump, and coast
more times than I can count I made an effort to pedal
my mind knowing that there is no chain
while my body knows the ballistic motion of peddling a bicycle

during my chainless traveling I had expected a cyclist to pass and offer assistance
to which I would ask to be towed
this did not happen
the only way I would get home on this evening would be on my own power; foot power.... foot power without the pleasure of a bike.... just the dead weight of a chainless bike

other than the occasional pedal to the back of the calve it was a pretty easy cruise
the path was pretty much flat all the way home
any hill I had to walk up gave me a coast down
the choice of the bike path proved to be the right choice

once home I was hungry and tired
it was later than dinner time
with a glance at my watch I accelerated the process of getting out of my gear and into some clothes
as I passed through the kitchen I stuffed my mouth with VACE eggplant Parmesan
chewing and swallowing as I marched up the stairs
maybe bypassing the chewing and just swallowing.... it was late and I was hungry
upon reaching the top floor I was greeted by lisa and two clothesless boys
each being dried after an evening splash in the tub
with a towel on the banister I jumped into the bedtime process

lisa dressed grant while I dressed dean
grant and lisa said their good nights while dean and I talked about his day
lisa and I laughed about Grant's new haircut... his aweful new haircut
then made Dean's bed while he picked out some books
we read from little bear and then the great little book, Toby the Toucan (with snapping beak)
after I read the toucan story to dean... dean then read that same story to me
much time had lapsed
what was going to be an early bedtime had stretched into a late bedtime
our reading moved to a discussion of being afraid of the dark, a new development as of this week
the light was left on and dean closed his eyes to go to sleep

like the common fool that I am I put off my repair until the next morning...

Dean woke in the middle of the night afraid of the dark
lisa had turned off the light before she went to bed
we need to find a strategy for explaining and understanding the "afraid of the dark issue"

and I need to fix my bikes in the night rather than waiting until the next morning.....

this post was finished yesterday
the details were move clever and clear
but somehow the BLOGGER did not accept the PUBLISH AND POST PROCESS
hate when that happens

it is again morning
my coffee is done
need to put on some clothes so that I can walk the dogs
so that I can take off that clothing throw on some gear so that I can ride my bike to work only to take off the gear and put on some clothes again so that I can work
after a day of work the clothes come off and the gear goes on
only to get home to get out of the gear.... into some clothes where I can join my family for the evening's events go to sleep only to wake the next morning where the process gets repeated

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