Thursday, July 31, 2008

What to Do When Your Derailleur Goes All Knackered

Jen, David and I did a bike ride on Sunday (from the Around South London book, 32 miles from Headcorn, "two water bottles" difficulty) and although it was largely a pleasant ride through rural Kent, it all went a bit wrong towards the end.

Pic courtesy of Jen

As we were coming up a hill into Sissinghurst, something happened to David's gears, resulting in bad noises and an inability to change gears without the chain coming off. After much road side poking and prodding between the three us, and a tentative "I'll give it a quick ride see if that's fixed it" from David, it became apparent that the derailleur was not guiding the chain correctly, resulting in it constantly trying to move it onto another ring. Given that it was patently not behaving we were now in the "let's see if we can bend it back into the right place" territory, but we hadn't noticed that a plastic peg had snapped, so that the derailleur was completely knackered. We all stood around marvelling about how little we knew about how gears worked. We ended up pushing the bikes for 6 miles.

So what can you do if this happens and you're miles from a bike shop and you don't have a spare derailleur with you? Are you doomed to push your bike for the rest of the route? Well, the best advice I've found is to:

1 - Put the bike in a gear you will be happy cycling in for the rest of the day (bit hard, as you'll have to guess a bit, but probably something in the middle)
2 - Remove the chain using a chain tool (that I forgot)
3 - Remove enough links (using your tool) so that the chain will go round the large front and back rings ONLY (missing out the two small cogs) with a fair degree of tension
4 - Replace the chain around those two only (using a spare chain link, which I DID remember)

These pics hopefully show what I mean.


You have effectively made a single-gear bike, which you should be able to pedal, but will obviously struggle to go up hills/break the land speed record, but hopefully the chain should stay on long enough for you to get home/to the bike shop. However please note:

1 - Removing links from chains is a tricky job at the best of times, so best not to do it for the first time when you really need to fix your bike. This describes it in reasonable depth.


Thanks to "Slice" for the single-gear suggestion

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

New Bike

Exciting news! I finally took the plunge and bought a new bike. A colleague (my boss, in fact) was selling his Condor Squadra which he rode up Alpe D’Huez in L'Etape a few years ago and I made the mistake of giving it a test-ride. This was the first time I've ridden a "proper" road bike, since I fell off one in a church car park in Renfrewshire 25 years ago, and it was a pretty revelatory experience. Suddenly I was faster than most people. Suddenly I made lights, that previously I got caught at every day. Suddenly I didn't have anywhere to put my panniers :-)

So having umm-ed and ahh-ed, and learnt about groupsets, and test-rode a heap of other racers at Evans, I decided that the sheer enjoyment of riding the bike was too much to forego and decided to buy it. I got a good price (even with our work's Ride2Work scheme, I couldn't get anything quite as good for the same cash for new).

So what to do now ? I don't want to just use the bike for commuting, but as the bike is built to be as light as possible, it isn't really designed to then have a load of panniers on it, as would happen if I took it off for a weekend tour like my "Gloucester to Hungerford" trip. I think I need to re-think my trips into circular ones where I leave all my stuff back at base, while just how far I can go in one day before I fall over. My first planned trip is to the Peak District in a few weekend’s time. Not sure of my route yet, but somewhere starting (and finishing) around Hathersage/Edale I think.

More to follow...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Oh Dear!

David Cameron (leader of the Conservative party and someone who makes great play of his cycling credentials) has had his bike nicked from outside Tescos in Portobello Road), although according to the Evening Standard "Cameron had chained it to a 2ft bollard, allowing thieves to lift both the bike and the lock clear"

<shakes head>

Monday, July 21, 2008

New Cycling "Knickers"

This week I've been wearing my new Swrve "knickers" (American for 3/4 length trousers). I have to say these are awesome, being specifically cut for cycling, but at the same time are almost smart enough that you can wear in the office/pub (if you can't be bothered changing). They have nice big pockets at the back and are cut lower at the front so they don't into your stomach when you're bent over on the bike.

I bought them at this place in Vancouver (benefitting from the strong pound) for about £45 but at more expensive over here unfortunately £65. They're still worth trying if they sound like they might be your kind of thing

I've got them in cotton, but you can also get them in more technical fabrics, if you need.

Highlight of the Week

While watching the Tour De France yesterday on ITV4 I noticed that on the road, in white paint instead of the usual list of riders names (Evans, Cav, Schleck, etc) or messages from the Socialist Party of France, someone had painted a large 15ft cock and balls (someone British, I'm guessing :-))

I'll post a picture as soon as I can find one.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bikes and Trains

Trains and bikes should go well together, however privitisation and overcrowding seem to have left a situation where different companies have different policies at different times and checking them requires judicious use of Google. Thankfully A To B Magazine maintain an up-to-date and in-depth guide to all the networks' different restrictions.

In fact it's so in-depth that it will tell you what all the companies' policies on tandems are, should you be interested.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Back from holiday... posts to follow.

In the meantime, anyone who's had their chain snap will appreciate David Millar's reaction during the last 1km of a stage of last month's Giro D'Italia