It has been ages since I wrote my last bog. It is not that I haven't been out on my mountain bike. Despite a few (albeit short) severely wintry spells, there has hardly been a week the whole winter when I haven't been out. But there simply hasn't been anything noteworthy happening. So when I was mountain biking yesterday with the club I was thinking that it was about time that something newsworthy happened. I am not one of those who subscribe to the belief that fate can be tempted by such wishes, I don't really think the inner workings of my mind have such a great cosmic influence, but it was remarkable that only a few minutes later a large stick jumped up and inserted itself between my chain and the derailleur, prising the lower of the small wheels off and sending the arm firmly in between the cogs of the cassette. One broken bike.

Fortunately, extracting the derailleur arm was no problem, but that still left me with a completely non-functional system, there being now nothing to hold the chain tight and in place against the cassette. All those hours reading mountain bike magazines came to my rescue; if I could make the chain shorter then I could bypass the derailleur and still be able to pedal, although not change gear any longer (see the photo below). That would at least get me home - we were (naturally) at the furthest point of the ride when this happened, so walking would have taken some hours. First of all, I tried un-linking the quick link, with a small pair of pliers and then a piece of string (another trick I had read about, but that one didn't work). However, after a few minutes struggling, it occurred to me that I had a spare quick link with me, so all I needed to do was to make the chain shorter and I would be mobile again. That was quite straightforward with my multi-tool, the only problem being that I hadn't noticed that the chain was not properly on the front cogs, so I made it shorter than optimal and ended up in a rather low gear.

I was now able to head for home, but if I pedalled as fast as could, I could go all of 11 kph. Once it became clear that I would be able to limp home, I had expected the rest of the group to go an and finish their planned route. However, they insisted in coming with me, not only keeping my spirits up, but sheltering me from the strong wind, picking up some key bits and pieces which fell off the derailleur as we went along, and giving me a lift by car the last few kilometres.  Two clear lessons learnt. Firstly, even if the tools and bits and pieces I carry around in my rucksack don't come out very often, it really is worth taking them with me every week. Hooray for quick links! And secondly, what a difference cycling with a group of friends makes! 



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