interbike expo

“BREAKDOWN!” (Tuesday, September 21, 2010)

Picked up breakfast at Vic’s and Moe’s Bagels, then rode the first 3 miles east with Marti. Sweet. Then made a pit stop at the Valmont coal-fired power plant to bid adieu to the coal burning there.

The ride east started well. Hit some nice little hills coming out of town, which got the blood pumping. Good to be away from a computer and back outside on a bike pushing my body. Lots of thumbs up and compliments on the trike from fellow bikers and motorcyclists. Made it 26 miles on Hwy. 52, near Fort Lupton, when cruising down a hill the steering got dangerously loose, so I pulled off the road. My first thought was the joystick steering mechanism might be compromised. Fortunately it was just a flat tire, and a very fortuitous one at that.

The bad news is the flat was in the rear and my wrench (should have checked that before I left) was not quite big enough for me to loosen the bolt. The good news is I bought roadside bike insurance for the trip, so I was able to get a tow to the nearest bike shop in Frederick, which lucky for me was open today. Breaking down this early in trip, where I was still close enough to get the kind of repairs I needed, ended up being a huge blessing, as the flat tire unearthed a much more serious problem that could have derailed the ride for a week or longer.

Angel Berdiales, owner of Shalom (meaning “peace”) Bikes, pulled off the back tire and immediately spotted trouble. Where the derailleur screws into the rear carbon fiber fork, the threads were badly stripped, likely due to a sloppy original installation, so it was only a matter of time before the derailleur would shake loose, leaving me stranded in the middle of nowhere. No more biking for today.

Angel consulted with his friend, Armando Caban, and came up with a creative solution. They inserted weld bond to set overnight and will drill a new hole and try rethreading it in the morning. Will it solve the problem long-term? No way to know, but I’m hoping for the best. Despite my little emergency backing up his other jobs, and having to leave tomorrow for the Interbike Expo in Las Vegas, Angel is determined to get me fixed up and back on the road, which I hope will be tomorrow morning.

While we’re figuring all this out, another friend of Angel’s, Roland Voss, stops into the bike shop, hears I’m stranded, and offers to let me crash at his place in Firestone.  So here I am, having a great conversation with a like-minded green energy advocate, being generously treated to dinner and my second cold beer. Roland has a creative idea about reforming our political system.

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