This time, I was better prepared. Seriously, nothing could possibly keep me from having a successful bike ride, unlike The Long Walk of several weeks ago. I had everything going for me:
* It was early afternoon, nowhere near sunset.
* My phone was with me.
* I now had a pretty good idea of how to change a flat tire.
* And the real ‘ace-in-the-hole’ — Brent and our second-born, Greg, were going riding too. So if I did manage to have any trouble they would ride right by me on their way home. And [probably] help me out.
I took off first, leaving the guys behind with some bike part to adjust, because I was going to make pizza, and Greg needed to start back to his place in a couple of hours. I would barely have time to bake it and enjoy the subsequent feeding frenzy. Besides, as I may have mentioned, I was better prepared and nothing could possibly keep me from having a successful bike ride.
I picked a short but challenging route with some long, slow grades to climb. At the farthest point, I turned toward home and had the thrill of a couple of miles mostly downhill. Ah, time to relax, shift gears to the big chainring, and bump up my speed with little effort!
My front derailleur must be equipped with the sort of heavy-duty suspension springs you would normally use in a big-rig truck. With my scrawny little toothpick arms and arthritic fingers, it is all I can do to shift the chain from the normal chainring to the big one. After a try or two, I got the blasted thing pushed over and proceeded to ride fast (for me) to the stop sign beyond the bottom of the hill.
Then it was time to shift back down to the normal chainring, since the next quarter mile or so is slightly uphill. Fortunately the beefy, macho derailleur spring is much easier to shift back down than it is to shift up. Um… maybe too easy. With a flick of my wrist, I released the derailleur. Ta-wang! Macho Spring ricocheted the chain clear off the crankset and into the little space between the chainring and the frame, where it stuck tight. Great. A bike wedgie; just what I needed.
Being an old hand at re-positioning thrown chains (unlike changing flats), I stopped and got off to make the fix. I figured it would take all of 15 seconds. With one hand, you pull down the rear derailleur to create some slack in the chain, then with the other hand, slip the chain back onto its toothed ring.*
Simple. Unless, of course, the chain is caught in the worst wedgie ever.
It would take two hands to pull the chain from its trap, which can only be done while one hand is pulling the rear derailleur down. If you do the math, you can see that I was not going to get that pizza in the oven any time soon.
After several fruitless efforts, during which both hands became blackened with chain grease, I heard the sound of a diesel motor approaching. Since I was off the pavement and in no danger of being run over, I ignored it. Until it rolled by me and stopped a couple of yards away. It was a white pickup truck, and a man several years younger than myself was getting out.
“I used to ride too,” he said. “What’s the trouble?”
I managed to tell him about the chain without using the word “wedgie.”
“Let’s see if I can get that loose so you won’t get your fingers greasy,” he offered.
“It’s far too late for that, but I appreciate the help,” I assured him, and pulled down the rear derailleur. Even Diesel-Pickup Guy had to give the chain a couple of good yanks, but it finally came free. I was ready to go. Like I said, help would have come along before too long, but now our pizza was a done deal.
I would have shaken his hand, but that wouldn’t have done him any favors, so I settled for profuse thanks. But I would also like to go public and say,
“Thank you, Diesel-Pickup Guy, for taking time out of your day to stop and help a rather grimy damsel in distress. I only wish I could have offered you some pizza.”
How about you? Have you ever been a Good Samaritan or been rescued by one?
Thanks for reading!
* Little-known fact: this is precisely why bike shorts are usually black, so you can wipe the grease off your fingers without losing any style points.
PS: I’m linking up with Jen and the Soli Deo Gloria sisters!