Author Topic: Tales of Calamity and Woe  (Read 15465 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline misterflask

Tales of Calamity and Woe
« on: October 31, 2012, 06:00:11 am »
On recent TA I cracked a frame and broke a hub flange.  Both events happened at fortuitous locations and together resulted in only a day-and-a-half of downtime.  So I'm sure many or most could better my tale and I thought a thread to share tales of disastrous tour events might be enlightening.

Offline irc

Re: Tales of Calamity and Woe
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2012, 08:35:51 am »
Worst I've had was a broken seat post on a Transam. Luckily it was still usable with care and I made it 30 miles to the next town where I got a replacement. It was a suspension seat post which I didn't really need. So I'll put that one down to bad equipment choice on my part.

Other than that I've had no failures barring punctures on my two transams.

Anything  can break but good choices can reduce the chances. I always start a long tour with new tyres/brake blocks  and SPDs for example. In general I try and choose gear that isn't borderline light and look for durability.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Tales of Calamity and Woe
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2012, 09:45:23 am »
I've been pretty lucky. Worst was a cracked rim, which I discovered in a town with bike shop that could build me a new wheel. Second worst was when I had to ride on a failing bottom bracket for a week before I got somewhere that could replace it. Neither one affected my progress.


  • Guest
Re: Tales of Calamity and Woe
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2012, 10:03:42 am »
During a day off in Bowling Green, OH a shop Discovered that my rear rim had cracks around nearly every spoke hole. Since I was with a group I had to keep moving so I had little choice but to shell out big $$ for the wheel off a tandem.

In the middle of nowhere Andalucia the following March, my right pedal spindal started to size up. Stramge feeling when you are pedalling and your pedal axle won't rotate. I managed to work it free but it kept acting up every few miles. I finally got it to get it to stop and made it to that evening's destination. I was then faced with the choice of trying to ride to about 60 miles to Cordoba the next day, where I was sure there would be some good bike shops, or taking a bus there and back to get a new set of pedal. I opted for the former. Not 5 miles into the ride the pedal started siezing up again. I think I finally managed to crush enough of the bearings to dust that the problem stopped for good. Found a great shop near Cordoba's city campground and told the salesman the pedals were "basura."

Offline adventurepdx

  • World Traveler
  • *****
  • Posts: 564
  • Riding bikes in and around Portland, Oregon
Re: Tales of Calamity and Woe
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2012, 03:24:06 pm »
I once snapped my handlebars on tour.

Thankfully, it happened on an off day, when I was riding around town unloaded. And the snapping happened right when I started to pedal after the light turned green. It could have been a lot worse.

Offline BobG

Re: Tales of Calamity and Woe
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2012, 05:09:31 pm »
On one trip my frame snapped where the chain stay is brazed to the dropout. It was late in the day when I was riding sweep with one other rider on a group Trans Am tour. We were climbing the hills from Buckhorn Dam to Booneville, KY when the bike started swaying wildly in the rear. I first thought the rack had lost a bolt until I stopped and discovered the damage. We hitched a ride into Booneville where the local garage mechanic welded it back together. With a touch of spray paint it was good to go for the rest of the trip!

On another trip when I was just out of high school my left crank broke on a trip from VA to Wisconsin. My buddy and I were in Saginaw, MI at the time and I had to hitch hike to Detroit to find a replacement Campagnolo crank. It was 1968 and the experience gave new meaning to the Simon and Garfunkle lyrics about taking "four days to hitch hike from Saginaw"!

Offline litespeed

Re: Tales of Calamity and Woe
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2012, 07:25:57 pm »
I once had the cogs in my rear wheel go out just after leaving Reed City, Michigan on a Sunday. Suddenly I was pedalling and going nowhere. Fortunately I had met a retired couple in town. I called them up and wound up staying with them for a couple of days. He took me into Big Rapids on Monday for new innards for my wheel. I still correspond with them.

On the second day of TOSRV South (Tallahassee to Albany GA and back) my Modolo stem broke right off. I came down hard on the post and fortunately didn't crack my sternum. I have heard that it can be right painful. Support provided me with a bike for the rest of the ride.

In Lancaster CA an incompetent bike mechanic didn't pin a new chain correctly and got the chain length wrong. It came apart as I was leaving the KOA the next day. Fortunately the buses there have bike racks so I was able to return to the shop and get a new one from the guy who owned the shop.

Peugeot once made a frame of aluminum with the joints pressed together - no welding or gluing. It was an interesting idea - get the tolerances tight enough and the aluminum will weld itself - but didn't work out. Mine failed at the front of one chainstay. I took a couple of spills before I figured out what was going on. I gingery pedaled back to my van and discarded the frame when I got home.

Offline tsteven4

Re: Tales of Calamity and Woe
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2012, 08:51:57 pm »
After 40 years of cycling:
1) all the ball bearings leaked out of one freewheel, fortunately some kind soul gave me a ride.
2) countless broken spokes, but none after I started riding hand build wheels from Bruce Gordon in Petaluma or Vecchio's Bicicletteria in Boulder.
3) a couple of broke chains.  no big deal if you have a chain tool.
4) lost rear rack bolt, best to carry spares and use loctite.  Weld failure on a blackburn rear rack, a u clamp from a hardware store got me going.
5) a broken seat in England, but they have pubs to help with the discomfort.
6) a broken rear axle in Crested Butte.  Don't loosen that quick release until you are at the shop and you probably will be able to ride there.
7) total failure of a Maillard Helicomatic hub in France, fortunately within hitchhiking distance of what was probably the only bike shop that still had a dusty replacement in back.
8) a broken toe clip back in the day, not a common failure mode in these times.
9) lost a screw on a cleat, lost a screw in a clipless pedal.  In Switzerland they broke apart a cleat set and sold me one cleat screw, in Lander Gannett Peak Sports donated a screw from a retired pedal.  Thanks.
10) total failure of a front brake cable stop descending Col de la Bonette on our day off, i.e. we left the panniers at camp.  Miraculously I was going slowly or else the list could have ended here.  TEST YOUR BRAKES, pull on then occasionally very hard while stopped to make sure nothing slips or vaporizes like that cable stop.  Look for frayed cables, including inside the brake lever.
11) a occasionally slipping, but not totally clutchless, Shimano LX freehub, it took from Colorado until nearly Nevada to find a replacement.  Kudos to Cedar Cycle in Cedar City UT who replaced it after hours, it was a relief to get that fixed before heading across Nevada.
12) a cracked frame racing a thunderstorm and some dirt bikes down Pearl pass.  I won, but it was the last trip for the Bridgestone MB1.
13) a broken seat rail leaving Vancouver, Canada.  This hurt, but eventually I got to a bike store in Bellingham WA.  Thanks to some Sunday truck stop mechanics at the border who donated a hose clamp the last half of that was ridden with a sort of level seat.
14) a couple of wheels trashed by the airlines, in one case the boxed bike was thrown on top of a luggage cart and slid off somewhere on the runway in Denver.  The exploded box was described by an airline employee as "opened for inspection by TSA"  HAH!

None of these was a calamity, but that cable stop failure could have been the end.

Offline RussellSeaton

Re: Tales of Calamity and Woe
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2012, 08:56:02 pm »
My worst mechanical failure was in 1992.  In Czechslovakia.  Rolled my front wheel into a sewer grate and fell over before I could get my foot unclipped.  Tacoed the front rim.  I walked to a store close by.  Somehow I met a man in the store.  He hauled me to a local bike shop where I purchased a front wheel off a hybrid bike.  I then spent 3-4 days living with his family and another family they were vacationing with.  Small cabins near town.  Both families had two kids each.  Between 10 and 16 years I think.  I was about 22 at the time so I could play with the kids and talk with the parents comfortably.  Very enjoyable days.   The Olympics were going on and the USA pro team was winning.  Looking back I really don't see the wheel being ruined as a bad thing.

Offline geegee

Re: Tales of Calamity and Woe
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2012, 11:10:16 am »
One of the pins on my rear derailleur broke in the middle of England, causing the whole assembly to crumple towards the wheel. Luckily no spokes were broken and I was able to get a ride into Sheffield to get  a new derailleur.

The brackets that connected my rear rack to the seat stays completely sheared off while riding down a big hill towards Prague. The rack with all my bags pivoted down to the ground and got dragged before I could stop. It wore a hole through the dry seal bag and the tent inside. I managed to secure the rack back with bungie cords and proceeded slowly to the city where I got a new rack.

Offline newfydog

Re: Tales of Calamity and Woe
« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2012, 07:18:40 pm »
Like the venerable Tsteven, I've broken just about every part of the bike at sometime, but I once stranded myself in a remarkably efficient manner.  I was riding a bike with sew-up tires, with a spare tied under the seat with a toe strap.  The tire fell out, jammed between the rear tire and frame and locked up the wheel.  The tire skidded, burned through and exploded.  The spare was also burned through.  Two expensive tires trashed, thumb out for a ride home.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Tales of Calamity and Woe
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2012, 06:15:18 am »
Mine is not equipment failure. I did a 4,500 mile tour in France, Germany, Czech, Poland, Ukraine, Moldavia, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, and the east coast of the USA in 1994. A war of genocide was still raging between the Bosnians, Serbs, Croats, and Muslims in the former Yugoslavia.

One afternoon I had to lie flat on the ground as mortar fire, automatic weapons, artillery, grenades, and mines blasted all to hell. I could smell the spent gunpowder and the burning metal from the shells, but not once did I see a soldier anywhere. The bombardment slowly petered out after about 35 minutes. The ending was punctuated with the extremely loud sound of a creaky, very squeaky, old train rattling its way over antique tracks, and blowing a loud, old fashioned, steam whistle. It was scary as hell. It was about 5 or 6 miles west of Bojanow, Poland on August 31, 1994.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2012, 02:56:35 pm by Westinghouse »

Offline Jason

Re: Tales of Calamity and Woe
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2012, 05:16:31 pm »
Ah, the calamities...

My worst was just this past July.  Rolling through the Ozarks (MO) early morning in an effort to beat the POUNDING heat that was summer 2012, I got a little out of sort and control - and went down a grass embankment, oh, and into a cement drainage ditch...  ha....  not terribly funny at the time, as I was left with a broken front wheel and two-cracked ribs (plus some pride issues...) 

Trans Am tour ended right there.  But, was my first (road bike) crash in 15,000+ miles of touring, so not too bad.  The people of MO flat out rock, especially the two random guys in a mini van that wheeled me into the next town.

There's always the 2013 season.... :)
singlespeed touring - life generally requires just one speed.
Southern Tier, TransAm, tons of places in between.

Offline canalligators

Re: Tales of Calamity and Woe
« Reply #13 on: December 19, 2012, 03:24:57 pm »
Had a threadless stem slip and dumped myself and stoker on the ground; she took the brunt of it with bruises and abrasions, but it wasn't a tour ender.  Though the stem had an unusual clamping system, that's no excuse; I had failed to check it recently, and I am suitably humbled by it.  The other one was a spill on a wet unpaved trail, this time I took the brunt but we were able to continue.  We now avoid any unpaved riding in the rain.

Offline steveherrmann

Re: Tales of Calamity and Woe
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2021, 02:16:37 pm »
In 1976 (I was 17) I did not have the money to do an across the country Bikecentennial ride, so a friend and I rode from just north of LA to Bellingham, WA (nearly Canada). 1600 miles in 33 days. Awesome trip for a teen.

On the 4th of July we were at Bandon State Park at the Oregon-California border. Our bikes were parked and locked at our camp site. We had walked down to watch the fireworks, and were on our way up the hill. (Inside the park.) I was walking on the 6" high concrete divider between the road and sidewalk, my riding partners were walking next to me (three abreast). A pickup truck came up the hill behind us, the kid driving was not used to how wide the trailer mirrors stuck out and hit me. Knocked me flat. Nothing broken, but plenty sore. If I had not been that extra 6" higher the mirror would have hit my head. Would I be here today? I doubt it.

The driver was shocked too and did not stop until he got to the top of the hill. His mirror was totally destroyed. (I was proud of that.) The driver was freaked out at hitting me. (I'd hope so!!) He was relieved to know I was "okay". Then he looked at the mirror and said, "I'll tell Dad I hit a pole or a sign." The next day I was riding, but not without some discomfort.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2021, 02:28:43 pm by steveherrmann »