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I was Just Riding Around...

I am sure bike shops are all too familiar with the lament "I was just riding around when..." but this time it was true. Really.

I was riding at Santa Teresa when it happened. I climbed up Stile Ranch, which after a long, dry summer seemed even rockier than usual. This meant a reasonable amount of climbing while navigating around and over rocks of various sizes. The bike was fine mechanically and the only problem was hauling myself up the hill. I made over the hills on Stile Ranch and the small hill on Mine  and was riding on the short section that runs parallel to a small creek. I passed a family with small children, so I was going pretty slow when it happened.

I was "just riding around" when suddenly my bike made a loud grinding noise and came to an immediate stop. Since I was going slowly, this was not an immediate problem. I got off and checked the bike and discovered a broken and twisted rear derailleur wrapped in an unnatural backward position against the cassette in such a way that the wheel couldn't turn. I quickly concluded that the ride was over and set to work on just making the mobile.

A bit of gentle prodding of the derailleur had no effect, so less subtle means had to be employed to unwrap the shifting mechanism from cassette and move it back toward the intended position. This allowed access the hanger screw and allowed the derailleur to be removed. The derailleur hanger was not broken but was bent in an unusable shape, but a bit of "gentle persuasion" with a rock bent it into sufficient shape to use as the required spacer between the rear hub and the frame and get the wheel remounted. I removed the chain and zip-tied and duct taped the useless derailleur to the seatpost so I could "scooter" back to the starting point.

Ken offered to give me a tow with a short piece of rope he had. This also started off poorly when the rope had to be dropped and instantly wrapped itself in his hub. This was not too big of an issue and we tried it again. The "short rope towing" got a bit interesting since the rope was so short that my front wheel could easily overlap his rear tire. Between scootering and towing, we made it back without too much of a problem.

I have no idea why the derailleur suddenly broke. If it was going to break, I would think it would tend to break under the stress of climbing hills and going over rocks. But no, it breaks on the almost flat fireroad at a very low speed. Really...I was just riding around.

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