After plenty of bike breakdowns, my ride-to-work venture finally caught some momentum

Certainly (sarcasm alert!) regular Moor and More readers are waiting anxiously for a post mortem on my 2022 bicycle commute-to-work routine. 

By the time I finally psyched myself up to venture out into the cold, dark mornings, the month of May was almost over. I rode to work only twice. It was not an auspicious beginning but perhaps it was a bellwether of things to come. 

As I mentioned in my earlier essay, I bought my current road bike less than a year before the coronavirus shut everything down. It does not have a lot of miles on it. On one of my first rides home from work, my front brake cable snapped. If a brake cable is going to break, the front one would be my preference. In all my years of riding, though, I have never had a brake cable fail. My bike was in the shop for a couple of days. Riding days were lost.

Soon thereafter, I noticed rubbing and pinging sounds emanating from my disc brakes. All my previous bikes had caliper brakes, which are affected adversely by wet weather. Disc brakes are supposed to be superior in that regard. But what I have found is that disc brakes can be temperamental and finicky. For somebody blessed with good hearing, noises from my bike in the early, quiet hours of the day are a nuisance I find hard to ignore. I ignored them for a while.

Then, right at the beginning of a ride home, I put one good kick into my pedal, and my chain snapped. I have never before had a chain break. My wife had to come get me, load up my bike, and take it to the shop. While the bike was in the shop, I asked the tech to check the brake noise. He made some adjustments and replaced some pads. The noise continued. I took the bike back a couple more times. The tech couldn’t hear the noise. More riding days were lost.

Back on the road, a couple of weeks later, a spoke broke on my front wheel. That has happened before, and sometimes has punctured the inner-tube. It did not in this instance. I took my bike to a nearer bike shop, left it, and walked a mile home. They fixed the spoke in two hours and I walked the mile back to pick it up. The next morning, I had a flat tire. I went back to the shop and got a new tube and a new tire.

At this point, it was halfway through the summer, I had spent more than $350 in repairs, and I only had about 30 rides in. High gas prices were a motivator that kept me riding. Also, I had encouraged a new employee at work to give the bike commute a try and I didn’t want to be a bad example. In July, he had a bike accident on the way to work and was pretty bruised and banged up. He didn’t ride much more after that.

Finally in August and September, I got a good streak going, with lots of dry days and no serious mechanical problems (the brakes were still making the occasional noises, but I did my best to ignore them). I rode to and from work almost every day in August and September. Up until October 12, I rode every day that month. The wind gusts from the West on one of my last rides kicked my butt. With morning freezing temperatures in the forecast, I may be hanging it up for the year.

 The 2022 grand total is 65 rides, barely half of what I did five years ago. My body is telling me it’s time to get back in the car. Mick Jagger had it right: “What a drag it is getting old.”