There used to be a tech education company that advertised it’s certification programs for people chained to dead end jobs with the phrase “Break those chains!” Apparently Big Nellie is feeling frustrated with her role in this whole bike to work thing. About six miles into the ride to work I came to a stop sign at South Franklin and Union Streets in Old Town Alexandria. I stopped a little late as a car came through the intersection from left. I didn’t downshift. When I started up, I pressed hard on the pedal and BANG the chain snapped.
This chain is rather long, about 2 1/2 chains long. It has a long and sordid history. It’s first escapade was attacking my friend Flor’s pants at her farewell party in Meridian Hill Park. About a week later it snapped on the hill to Rosslyn about 1/2 mile from work. It held together for a while then this year it decided to rebel. Three times in the last two months the chain has broken. The first two times the outside plate on a link just flaked off, like it was made out of sugar. Then today, the link just spontaneously came apart.
So there I was with my nonfunctioning bike and a chain tool on the wet sidewalk of Old Town cussing under the window of a million dollar townhouse in Ford’s Landing. After about 15 minutes of frustration , I called Mrs. Rootchopper for a ride home. While waiting I, of course, reassembled the chain except I twisted it and now my bike had a Mobius strip for a drivetrain. I thought about re-breaking the chain but it occurred to me that the bike gods were sending me a message: GET A F%@KING NEW CHAIN, DUDE! This is exactly what Felkerino, known around these parts as The Sage of Swings, advised me to do at the last Friday Coffee Club (without the profanity, of course). And, so, it shall be. Big Nellie is going in for a bunch of maintenance on Saturday courtesy of the folks at Bikes at Vienna.
I spent the morning working at home. It poured buckets for about 1 1/2 hours. When the clouds cleared, I headed out on The Mule. With a light tailwind, I made rapid progress, a bad day turned good.
The ride home was better. After struggling to get some sort of rhythm on this bike over many months, I finally got it. The ride home was effortless. Just what I needed. And, somehow, the breathing problems that have been plaguing me for months have disappeared.
One thing that’s bothering me is that the steering on The Mule feels off somehow, like I’m pushing the handlebars to make the bike turn. I suspect that something is wrong with the steerer tube, perhaps damaged in an accident a couple of years ago. Maybe, after 20+ years, it’s time for a new touring bike.