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October 3, 2010

A Hole in the Ground (and a broken link, a sheared bolt)

Filed under: Riding and racing — mtbguru @ 8:46 am

The plan was simple: enjoy the DRT+HitG yet one more time this year, before it gets too cold, before it gets snowed in – and introduce Tom to its glorious goodness.
Connector to the Donner Rim trail

Sometimes not everything goes according to plan though.

Just over one mile in, after finishing the initial climb from the Donner Lake traihead to the DRT, I felt something funny at my left crank. It started to feel even funnier when it completely detached from its rightful location, the bottom bracket, and was just dangling from my foot. The crank bolt had sheared in two sections and there was nothing we could do to get the bike to somewhat work again. Well, it was possible to descend with one crank back to the trailhead, which actually did provide some entertainment.
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Truckee was close by so we went there to look for a bike shop – our luck took a turn for the better as the great folks of Cyclepaths in Truckee were able to quickly fix things and set me up with a replacement bolt. But we still had wasted a good chunk of time driving around so we decided to settle for the regular HitG loop – which made me suspect for a second that Tom might have sabotaged my bike, to prevent me from dragging him along on a 30+ miler in the high Sierra, a thought that earlier on hadn’t been able to extract much enthusiasm out of him…

We started out with the road and fireroad section – and then the fun could start. Conditions were perfect at the time – not too warm, not too cold, some clouds, fall colors here and there, and the climb up Andesite provided plenty of purrty views. Soon we got into the flow of the trail, and took on a brisky pace. There was a group of three ahead of us going at an equally brisk pace, and we passed a friendly couple from New York state vacationing in the area while they were acquainting themselves with the Sierra granite.
hitg

At the midway point of the loop, about 7 miles from each trailhead, I stopped right after a chunky section to get some photos; while Tom was descending said section, a loud popping noise accompanied the downhill action, a noise that had the unmistakable and terrifying character of disintegrating bike parts. It turned out the linkage of his Santa Cruz Blur LT rear suspension had broken (in multiple pieces, not all of which we were able to retrieve) – a perfect spot for this to happen, we couldn’t be farther out from civilization and the impending dread of a 7 mile hike-a-bike under looming thunderstorms didn’t exactly lighten up the mood.

McGyver linkage fix

However, as the stereotype has it, in every crisis there is opportunity, and Tom got the bright idea of lodging a rock in between his seat tube and the seatstays. This would prevent his bottom bracket from sinking down to near-ground due to the defunct linkage and now dangling free shock, effectively turning it into a hardtail: the Santa Cruz limited edition Blur LT ‘Hard’ Tail with custom rock-link! He had wrapped some duct tape around the rock and I suggested using his cellphone pouch to spread out the contact force and protect the seat tube. More duct tape was dug up from the depths of his backpack, to keep the entire assembly in place and I had to bow my head in respect for such preparedness (previously, I had given him plenty of flack for carrying too much stuff around ‘that one would never use’ on rides). I now agree, there can never be enough duct tape!

Duct tape to the rescue

It all worked surprisingly well, even on the chunkier sections of trail (of which there are rather a few). I had a pretty great time on the rocks and didn’t even have to feel bad for Tom’s misadventure, as he was able to maintain a very decent pace, taking it easy on the hard sections, to protect the integrity of his brand new hardtail as much as possibe.

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Close to the end, at the staircased hairball section I dabbed on the same tight right hander I had trouble with last time; next time, third time right perhaps?

It was an eventful day out in the woods, and to conclude I’d say that the fabric that keeps mankind going must undoubtedly contain some McGyver-style thought processes and ample supplies of duct tape.
Oh, and get up there if you have the chance – there’s still time before the snow, and the fall colors are starting to break out…

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