Monday, March 15, 2010


Picture this: A rad dude on a "vintage" Bridgestone MB-2. The MB-2 has been hacked into a single-speed. There's no unsightly chain tensioner. Tight.

The rad dude is track standing in the front of a long line of traffic at a busy intersection waiting for a red light to turn. He's listening to 20 year-old rad punk music in his mp3 player. It's a sunny day and life is good. And rad. He's aloof but ready to hammer off the line.

The light turns green and he lays into his pedals with all of the fury of his middle-aged strength. Bad Religion drowns out the POP! his chain makes as it snaps.

His elegant chain line was the result of hours of filing, grinding, and chain-length fussing -- indeed, he had to add and remove his half-chain-link a number of times as he tried different combinations of freewheel and chainring.

In the split second he slams his members into the top tube of his vintage steel, he ponders the hackneyed phrase, "you're only as strong as your weakest link." The phrase, as it turns out, does make some sense.

Cars move around him, perplexed drivers staring. Another cyclists rides by and says something the rad dude can't hear. Was it, "that didn't look good..."?

By now the top-tube has made clear it's immovable, cold, steel resolve upon the rad dude's groin. Tears well up in the rad dude's eyes as he picks up the chain and limps his bike to the side walk, where he will call for a ride home for the second time.


Jacque Hendrix said...

Oh my!

Hank Greer said...

Top Tube: 2 'Nads: 0

Dylan said...

Ummmm, sorry if I'm a little slow on the uptake, but would the rad dude be you? If so, that's pretty....rad.

Despite the groin-smashing, the MB-2 sounds rad as well.

And what's with dudes breaking crap on their bikes lately? I saw that you read this.

heyjack70 said...

Never let them see you cry!

Did you call for a ride because you were injured or because you didn't have parts to repair the chain?

Travis Nichols said...

I borrowed a Fixie/SS bianchi that was 2x sizes to small and blew a chain at an intersection on Trent. I'll never forget pulling myself out of the gutter and looking up at the drivers with their confused, but certainly not concerned reactions.

John Speare said...

Hank: thanks for keeping track.

Dylan: Indeed, I am the rad dude. And the MB-2, when fully-chained is pretty rad. It's going to Glen for some proper track drop outs this week. (Sorry BOB purists)

Heyjack70: I didn't have a chain tool. Which is sort of ironic. I have a chaintool in the tool pouch for all my other bikes.

And I wasn't really injured -- my ego was obviously wounded deeply and painfully, but the throbbing below subsided after a few minutes.

John Speare said...

HeyJack70: I guess I didn't finish my thought on why it's ironic -- and I hate it when people say something is ironic when it's not. Anyway: the irony is that I once broke a chain and walked home many moons ago. Since then, I made a point of packing a chaintool in all my tool pouches on all my bikes. Of course, I've never needed the chaintool on the road. Until today. And of course, since I just built up this bike, I haven't got a tool pouch all fussed out for it. Ironic? Right?

Hank Greer said...

It's possible I may have the score wrong. Does the MB-2 now look like this bike? If so, then the score is tied.

Lee said...

Wow, what were you listening to?

Pat S said...

Balance, drama, emotion. The whole thing sounds like a fabulous ballet that played out on the streets of downtown Spokane.

Reminds me of . . .

Damn. Can't put my finger on it.

Oh, wait. Yeah. Of Course. The Nutcracker Suite.

Great post . . . belongs in the Cycling Spokane hall of fame.

Dave Mannino said...

This story sounds really familiar.
After work on Monday my oldest daughter said "I was sitting at a red light at a really busy intersection on my way home from the library. I saw this guy doing the thing where you stand still on your bike in the lane. When the light turned green his chain exploded into three pieces and I was so scared that he would get run over by all the traffic but he made it to the sidewalk. I wanted to stop and offer him a ride to Two Wheel Transit but there was too much traffic." I said "that was probably a fixie rider, one of those guys who piece together some old junker from the seventies with no brakes and a fixed gear. He probably couldn't afford a new chain anyway." She replied "His bike was really awful looking and he had one those bad helmets like you used to wear with no holes in it." I said, "I can't believe he stayed on the bike, that's amazing."