When you bike camp the point is to get away "from it all" - which can include being far removed from bike shops. This means that preparation for mechanical problems is very important. It's a major bummer when you have a mechanical failure, you are in the middle of nowhere, and you don't have the proper tools and parts to at least get your bike in working order to get you to a bike shop. A common list of problems you should be equipped to deal with include:
- flat tire
- torn tire
- broken spoke
- broken chain
- broken cable
I did not put a lot of thought into one of these problems prior to my trip and was very lucky that things ended up working out. Yes, I got a flat tire and was well equipped to deal with that - I brought extra tubes, all the necessary tools, and a pump. But the problem I did not prepare for was a broken spoke - which I did end up encountering. This is not shocking because I had more weight on the back of my bike than I ever had and some of the terrain I was riding on was not very smooth.
If you have never heard a spoke break, it sounds sort of like the muffled "ping" of a softball being hit with an aluminum bat. When I heard the spoke "ping" my heart sank because I knew that I did not bring an extra spoke - something you should definitely bring along for a camping trip or any long ride where you will be away from help.
My feeling of despair turned to hope when the friend I was riding with said he thought he had an extra in his bag. I held my breath as he unpacked and when did find it there was a ray of hope - his wheel size was the same as mine so we were in business.
My feeling of hope once again turned to despair when we took off my back wheel and soon realized that we would not be able to replace the spoke unless we took the brake disc off. The problem? The brake disk was secured by star bolts - take a look:
I had never owned a bike with star bolts on it before getting my Globe and was not even sure I had the tool needed to take them off. What is it with star bolts anyway? I think it is just a corporate ploy to get people to buy new tools. Why can't they just use bolts that fit standard Allen wrenches?
I held my breath as I got out my Topeak multi-tool and exhaled when I saw that it did have a star wrench. I had no idea it even had this feature when I bought it because at the time I did not have a bike with star bolts.
Thus we were able to remove the brake disc and insert the spoke and we trued the wheel by putting it back on the bike, spinning it, and holding an Allen wrench up to the wheel to detect where we needed to adjust the spokes. For this you of course need a spoke wrench as well.
Everything ended up working out fine, but not because of any preparation on my part. So if you are considering a trip that is going to take you away from civilization, make sure you inspect your bike parts prior to leaving to ensure you have the right tools and right replacement parts for common problems - you will save yourself a lot of grief if you are properly prepared. I should also say that I was fortunate on one other count - the spoke I needed was the exact same size, but if a spoke had broken on the drive train side of the wheel, I would have been out of luck. The spokes on the drive train side are a different size.
One thing I have on my "to do" list is to go buy two extra spokes - one "normal" size and the other for the drive train side of the back wheel. I will then zip tie them to my frame so I am ready if this should happen again.
Have you encountered a problem in the middle of nowhere? Were you prepared? Horror stories or success stories welcome via comments.