An extremely eventful ride yesterday!
Yesterday morning I, along with four friends (Christopher, William, Sebastian and Justin), were planning to do a century ride which took us north through the Ocala National Forest. This is a great route, and one I’ve done many times before. I’d been looking forward to the ride all week long.
We decided to roll out at 6:00 AM, as most of us needed to be back by 11:00 or so. Unfortunately Christopher accidentally overslept, and had to bail on the ride. We were all bummed about that, as Chris is a great addition to any ride. Chris wound up being the ride MVP anyway, in a most unexpected way…
Sebastian was the only one with a front light, so he took us out with a 12 mile pull. I was next, and decided to go ahead and match Sebastian’s effort with a 12 mile pull. I came off the front as we turned north onto 19, which is the road through the forest.
A little over 30 miles into the ride we were cranking north through the Ocala National Forest. Everyone was feeling great! Justin was out front, about 8 miles into his first pull.
Out of nowhere I heard a loud metallic “BANG!” from under my bike, and my bike’s entire front end instantly went into a death wobble. We were doing about 21-22 MPH there, and I thought I was going to go down. I squeezed the top tube with my knees, and slowly applied the back brake. My front wheel was oscillating badly, and I knew it was a broken spoke.
Thankfully I was able to stop the bike safely. I still had no idea what happened. I heard the bang, but saw nothing.
Turns out there was a large, flat piece of steel scrap laying on the road. The color of the metal was nearly the same as the road, and no one saw it. When I reviewed my video video footage frame-by-frame, I saw what happened: as Sebastian’s bike passed over the metal, it popped up in the air, entering my spokes. It happens too fast to see in real-time, so here is the sequence of of screen grabs (click to enlarge, use arrows on right and left to cycle forwards and backwards):
I trust all the guys I was riding with yesterday, and they put safety above all else. I know Justin felt bad because he was out front, but the color of the scrap metal was so close to the road (not to mention relatively flat) that I can totally see how it went unnoticed. This was just one of the those things, and no one’s fault.
Sebastian was quick to (correctly) point out that this could have been MUCH worse: if that metal had been in my spokes for a fraction of a second longer, it would have come around and hit my fork, sending me ass over teakettle (and likely destroying my bike). There was a lot of fast traffic as well, so yeah… I was very lucky.
I normally carry a spoke wrench, but of course I neglected to take one yesterday. Justin had one, but the wheel was so badly out of true with the broken spoke that I could not compensate enough to make the bike safe and rideable.
I called my wife, but she was at work alone, and there was no way she could come. I didn’t want to bother Christopher, but I figured there was a good chance he was around. I woke him up (sorry!), told him where we were, and asked him if he could bring me a wheel so I could continue the ride. Chris, being the gentleman that he is, said “Of course!”
We were a pretty long way out, so it took Chris almost two hours to reach us. I told the guys to go on, and that I’d be fine, but they refused to leave me there. Not only did they all wait with me, we were being eating alive by mosquitoes, and it was getting hot. Dudes, thanks. Malaria treatments are on me.
We were all very happy when we saw Chris on the horizon. He was on his Yamaha R6, spare wheel strapped to his back. 🙂
At this point we were two hours behind, and with most of us needing to be back by 11:00 or so, we decided to turn around and make it an out and back metric century.
We’d been standing around for two hours in our cycling shoes, so needless to say our legs were all feeling a little stiff when we rolled out straight into a nasty headwind. We all had a laugh as Christopher got in front of us on his R6, and pulled us for about 7 miles (don’t worry, there are no Strava segments during any of this):
Chris, apparently feeling as if he’d not done enough good deeds for the day, even took my wheel to the bike shop for me! Dude… thank you.
Funny how something that, on the surface, is a negative can bring about so many positive feelings. What a great group of true friends. You guys are awesome.
We’ve got a century to make up next week!