If it's a Wednesday, it's likely that I may be out in Leeds woods, if the missus has given me an evening out pass. Last Wednesday it was a quick 2 hour hack round the ever drying singletrack with Badger and Yoda.
Before you ask, no, I haven't been sampling the local fungi! The nicknames have been long established and it's far too complicated to explain them here...Suffice to say it was just the 3 of us. Ed Crosstrax, our usual leader on these escapades, had cried off with man flu, but had 'kindly' given my Yeti a check over whilst in the shop, declaring that he'd 're-aligned' my gears that had been slightly out of sync...
Not long into the ride, said gears started slipping and missing, and I started cursing Ed under my breath for 'correcting' them…as we hit a particularly steep tarmac climb the skipping got worse, and I signalled to Badger and Yoda that I needed to stop, loudly declaring to them that Ed had totally 'fecked my gears up!" and, as if to prove my point, the chain then snapped in two!
But on close inspection it turned out to be a knackered link, not Ed's tinkering that had been the problem. Badger and Yoda ribbed me mercilessly, saying that Ed was probably sitting at home with a voodoo doll of my bike, and snapped the chain for questioning his mechanical skills in public!
More ribbing came, as I admitted that I had no idea how to mend a broken chain, along the lines of "you write for What Mountain Bike and BikeRadar, and can't even fix a broken chain!?"
After a minute or so of this, Badger and Yoda jumped into Monty Pythonesque Bicycle Repair man mode…Badger got out his multi-cum-chain tool and a rather nifty bit of spoke, bent at either end (like fish hooks), that he used to hold the chain loosely together as a third hand, whilst removing the knackered link and replacing it with a Powerlink.
It takes a steady hand, a keen eye and confidence to split the chain without the pin coming out completely…it is something that I will need to practice and learn if I am to perfect it myself. As Yoda says, "correct amount of force, it takes," just enough to ease it through, without popping out and losing the pin.
The moral of the story - it is about time I learnt to do more to my bike that mend punctures (I can do that, honest!). In the meantime, there's something reassuring about going out cycling with those that can fix your bike, otherwise it's a long walk home!
Want to see a video tutorial on breaking and joining a Shimano chain? See the video player below. There's loads more bike maintenance videos on there too...