I am chuckling to myself as I sit here in my underwear with a giant bowl of Barilla pasta , reflecting on today's wonderful winter ride.
28 miles, bitter cold out, the wind at certain points was, well, yes, excruciating. But I rode quite well, despite having one of those headcolds where you can still function. No high fever or depression. The sun shone brilliantly off the snowbanks and the air was crisp.
I am falling in love with this gaspipe 70's Panasonic, it's not the frame materials, but the design and geometry. The bike handles amazingly, all japanese-Ninja, and that was a big help today in dealing with the ruts of ice on the roads. This makes me happy. It doesn't take much, especially these days.
After having a couple more warm fuzzy moments with a few other bike-friends downtown, I saddled up once again and headed home.
The unthinkable happened.
Standing up on the pegs for a hard sprint across Trout Brook Drive toward the hill, ( a huge intersection with fast traffic, two lanes) , my Shimano Hyperglide chain snapped.
But how could that happen? Those chains cost 24.99!!! (The better ones are 45.00!!!)
Fortunately, I had no traffic waiting impatiently behind me. The start of the plummet sent me into a forward lurch, to the side. The bike swerved to the right, and wobbled for maybe ten feet. My testicles hit the pump, which was strapped on top of the top tube. I think this absorbed some of the blow. (I am not hurt, it was a mild impact, thanks for not laughing at me)
I am amazed at how I righted myself, it felt like I had just fallen off a balance beam and my torso was below my legs. How I got myself up again is a mystery. I fought for it, even though I was half frozen.
Thank God I was not "clipped in". I use toe straps, and have been using those since I was 10. (I do use modern "clips" on longer rides) I was able to extricate my left foor first, then my right.
Toe straps scare a lot of people, but in my opinion, you can actually get your foot out easier. The key is to not always crank the straps wicked tight. To me, pulling your foot backward is a much more natural movement than trying to twist your ankle. When you cringe in fear, your hamstrings will flex, so instinctively you will "pull out".
I only use clips on really long rides, never in heavy traffic. Only when it's sunny, and the wind is from the northwest.
I had to walk home, only about a half mile, I could have re-pinned the chain, but wasn't in the mood to fumble with tools and cold hands on bare steel.
The racy bikes that everybody rides these days have very narrow chains to accomodate the extra gears. I ended up buying this chain because it was all they had in the shop.
The chain I broke was a 7-8 speed Shimano Hyperglide, I always kept it clean, well lubed. This is the second one I have broken in less than a year.
Both chains have broken at least twice. I am extremely careful in re-pinning them also, being careful not to damage the plates. I also check them by flexing the link repeatedly laterally. I am not sure I trust those new "masterlinks" they look too fragile.
These chains are also easily damaged by "cross chaining", something you could usually get away with in the old days. That's when you are in the big rings on both ends.
Sometimes I found that useful to suddenly power up a sharp incline after a quick descent. You just get a quick boost. But apparently if you do this on the new chains, they cannot handle the lateral torque, and I think the plates bend. I've read many posts about this on various forums, the debate rages on.
Insults fly. NATO goes to Yellow Alert. In this case it's the French vs. The Japanese.
The tried and true Sedis (now Sedisport, a division of SRAM) chains are only 8.99 , and I have never snapped one. However, I'm not sure if they make them as narrow as the Shimanos. But all I need is a 5-6 speed.
I don't care if they are heavier. Somebody said the quality isn't as good now, but there's a lot of bashing on the 'net. We'll see. I am sure you can still get them NOS from places like YellowJersey.net or Harris Cyclery.
I hear they make chains now with hollow pins. That's insanity. I think these cost around $100.00.
If you are an agressive rider, do a lot of climbing, sprinting , or are overweight and you're riding a road bike with 18 or more speeds, it's not a bad idea to replace your chain once a season. Your freewheel will last a lot longer anyway, and you owe it to yourself.
After all, if you just plopped down a ton on money on a road bike, you won't enjoy it much with a case of traumatic brain injury.
It happens fast, trust me.