Eventful Cycling! (19th March 2009)

Riding up a steep, root-covered track as fast as I could in the Low 2 ratio of my 15-speed mountain bike. Was making great progress, quite impressed with myself. Then…suddenly grinding to a halt.

“What the hell?!”

The nut on the sprocket side of my mountain bike had come lose. The axle had then been pulled forwards on that side, causing the axle to turn at an angle. This wedged the front edge of the rear wheel against the frame.

In short, I was going nowhere.

At first I thought pushing the axle back into position would be enough to reset it. Sadly not; it immediately sprung back to the skewed angle.

Rear Axle

I could hear someone beating and grinding metal in the background. Pyestock was nearby, which is where my dad often does work. So I put 2 and 2 together and speculated that it might be him.

Luckily (and unusually, for me) I had taken my mobile phone. Called my dad and he answered. Explained the situation and we figured out I was near the part of the site he was working in. Heh, life is full of useful coincidences!

I ran over to the fence and he threw a couple of adjustable spanners over. “Don’t try to catch them!” he emplored. I picked them up from the dirt, ran back to my bike and had it ship-shape in a jiffy.

If anything, it was running even smoother than before! Perhaps it had been coming loose for a while?

Dad had suggested I take the spanners home with me, in case I needed them on the way. This turned out to be sage advice!

Front Mudguard

Approaching the Pondtail cross-roads from Kings Road, I have to make a right-hand turn to head for home. The junction has traffic lights but they don’t have a filter for traffic turning right.

So I was stopped in the middle of the junction, waiting for oncoming traffic to stop. It kept coming, only stopping as the lights changed in favour of Pondtail road, to my left. I was now holding up traffic, so I pushed hard on the pedal to get across and let other traffic on.

However, as my left foot was going down it must have caught my mudguard. This pushed the mudguard onto the wheel, folding it underneath itself and tangling it in the front forks. The bike stopped dead and I had to leap off to stop myself from falling!

At first I wasn’t sure what had happened, then I saw the end of the mudguard had snapped off. Realising that I’m now stood in the middle of a busy junction with a broken bike, I hurredly pick everything up and scamper to the pavement.

This caused me a mixture of embarrassment and anger. But the more pressing concern was to get home, so I leant it against a fence and tried to Robinson-Crusoe something together.

The spanners were adequate for removing the lower half of the snapped mudguard. The upper half was pretty secure, with its mounting point underneath where the forks join together. I tried removing the support braces but had neither a screwdriver nor anything which would suffice as one.

In the end, I bent the bracket around the remainder of the mudguard so the bracing would not drag on the ground. This was adequate to see me back home without further drama.


Dad arrived back a little later. Explained the Pondtail event to him and mum. They both saw the funny side, as did I by this time.

Showed the damage to dad and we debated more permanent ways of patching it up. By now it was distinctly cold outside, so I resolved to think about it another time. Parked the bike in the garage, went inside and made myself a nice, hot meal.