Friday, November 20, 2009

I think I'll buy a lottery ticket now!

I'm always singing the virtues of the pre-ride bike check. There's a good reason for this -- you could avoid disaster. Yesterday, I barely avoided it (and I hadn't checked my bike). I hope my experience will provide a good reminder for everyone.

Gnat and I went out to play cyclocross today. I've rolled around on my cross bike exactly once prior this season. We headed over to the bay and rolled up and down a bunch of steep, loose, off-camber drops. We rode down to The Shells and jumped the jumps over and over again. All told, about 2 hours of rolling around.

Everytime I stood on the bike, I heard a strange little clunky noise, but just thought it was creaking under effort after such a long retirement. Riding home on the road, I stood on a short steep hill and noticed that my bike felt "loose" under my weight and effort. Since it's a break-away bike, I looked at the joints (all tight). Again, standing, I felt like the bike was going to fall apart under me.

I got home and checked the bike (should have done this before the ride). The QR on the rear wheel was closed, but almost completely loose. I'm sure that when I threw my cross tires on the wheels, I probably just put them back on while the bike was on the stand and didn't tighten down the QR.

I was very lucky today. This could've been an expensive disaster. I could've broken off the rear derailleur. I could've lost the wheel altogether while we were jumping. The chain could've locked up and launched me from the bike.

Moral of the story, check your bike. Check your QRs to make sure that they're closed and tight. Check your bolts occasionally to make sure they're tight. Check your tires. Check your saddle rails. Take a few minutes before or after each ride to check the machine that you trust with your safety.

I'm feeling pretty lucky -- maybe I'll go out and buy a lottery ticket now.

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