Sh*t keeps breakin’

So the day after my post about the bike, I was climbing a steep hill in a high-ish gear and felt/heard a sharp SPRANG! from my rear wheel. I’ve had that loving feeling before, and sure enough, I had snapped a spoke. Fortunately only 1/2 mile from home. I took the wheel in to get the spoke replaced and the wheel trued up, and the bike shop guy called back to let me know my rear rim was cracking all over the place. The cracks are hairline now, but the wheel is eventual toast.

Spoke breaks really piss me off, because as an ex-extremely mediocre racer, I have clinical data that proves that not only am I much less powerful than I once was, but even when I was at my best I was pretty weak. Like my VO2 max topped out at 60, which is OK but hardly ‘genetic enduro mutant’ like. And I have no fast twitch to speak of, my vertical jump is 6 inches on a good day. Yes, I’m a slow guy with no endurance. So WTF on the whole spoke snapping thing? It’s not like I was pulling a (pre doping?) Vino and shattering the spent lead group of Tour elites with a blistering attack. I was climbing a freaking short not so steep hill on my way back home from work

As for the rim, well, I’m no Alberto Contador. The extra weight in my belly, fueled by late nights of coding and the incredible amount of yummy sugar snacks at the office, may be aerodynamically efficient, but it does nothing good for the power to weight ratio, and I’m afraid that my non endomorphic physique contributed to the rim fatigue.

No worries, don’t panic, said the bike shop guy. But I would start looking for a new wheel if I were you.

The thing is, the wheel is a 24 spoke Bontrager, and they dont even make those anymore. So I think it’s time to upgrade to a new set of wheels, something bomber that wasn’t made for an anorexic little grimpeur.  While a nice pair of Ksyriums would be great, I’m value-drooling over a set of Neuvation wheels, having read the reviews that rate them very high. In any case a wheelset is the best upgrade you can make on a bike, and I’m very close to springing for the rear wheel at least….

Since the rear rim is cracking slowly, I’m just going to keep an eye on it and keep riding. But the god of equipment upgrades wasn’t done with me. The next time I went out, I was just finishing my Mercer Island 2 lap AM special when I clicked out of my pedal, tried to click back in, and couldn’t get in. I rode swearing the whole time up the 14% grade to my house with one leg. Thank god for granny gears! When I took a look at the pedal, the retaining spring had cracked. This is the second pair of eggbeater pedals I’ve trashed, and I was done with the brand. That day I picked up a pair of Speedplay light actions. Installing the cleats was somewhat labor intensive, but straightforward. I was worried about finding the tiny little pedals with my feet, but had talked to enough friends that rode them to be assured that this wouldn’t be an issue. Sure enough, they felt completely natural. The best thing you can say about a pedal or a saddle is that you didn’t notice it, and these fit the bill. I’ll weigh in on their durability as time goes by.

Hopefully I can motivate to get out of bed by 5, on the road by 5:30 to do a long-ish Issaquah loop. Work is super busy these days, but a 5:30 – 8:30 session on the bike does wonders for my temperament.

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