Square Zero


Posted by Eric (February 14, 2006 at 2:26 pm)

[Muddy MTB Drivetrain]Last Saturday I had the rare opportunity to mountainbike for a couple of hours in the afternoon. (I had to drop my sons off at a party about 20 minutes from the trails; not worth it to go all the way home!) With the mild winter we’ve been having, I had my eyes on the weather forecast for days ahead of time—it was supposed to be just at freezing, so the trails would probably be fine.

In the event, the temperature got up to about 36 degrees. It was extremely muddy, particularly on the trail known as—actually, the less said about what trails I was riding in bad conditions, the better. Anyway, at one point I actually had to carry my bike off through the woods to the nearby highway; it would no longer move on the trail, and weighed about double its normal weight with all the mud.

I cleaned off as much mud as I could and started riding again on a somewhat less horrifically muddy trail. But at the end of it, just before I turned back to the parking lot, my rear derailleur cracked off the fram. The derailleur hanger had split in two.

I had to hike it back to the truck, though on a couple of downhills I mounted the bike and rode with one foot free for tapping. Better than hiking, anyway.

[Derailleur Destroyed]Back in the shop (aka my now extremely muddy basement), I found that the derailleur itself was bent hopelessly out of shape. Apparently it got so gunked up that it wouldn’t let the chain through, and got pulled up and warped under pressure from the pedalling. It wasn’t so much the mud that killed me, it was the twigs, leaves and grass all caked together in the mud—a kind of trail adobe.
So I had to spend my last few Christmas dollars on a new derailleur (got a good price on eBay). Fortunately I already had a spare derailleur hanger, as well as an old SRAM X-9 derailleur, bent but still functional (shifts, but not like butter). I installed the new hanger, straightened it, and installed the old derailleur.

It served well yesterday when I made an early morning ride at Palos. This time the temperature was closer to 17 degrees. The trails were nice and hard and I got in a good ride. No more riding in above-freezing temps until after the spring thaw!

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