Smithers, bike issues
Made it to Smithers. Original plan had been to take a rest day or two, catch up the blog and get ready for the road ahead. I will make a separate post catching things up with photos from the Cassiar and last six days of cycling since there is a bunch to tell there.
Unfortunately, also had some bike issues today – though circumstances were probably best situation to have these problems. In short, it looks like my “freehub” has failed. The freehub ratchets things so one direction the hub spins freely and the other direction it engages and lets you drive the gears forward. I will work with local bike shop (McBike) to get best solution going forward.
I had been noticing an occasional “slip” earlier on the Cassiar and was hoping it was signs of a stretched/worn chain and not a failing hub. If I was cycling under full load, it wouldn’t happen but in a not complete load e.g. downwind/downhill or starting to engage it would slip just a bit. It was hard to get the exact sequence of when it happened, but I figured I would bring the bike to Smithers bike shop and replace the chain/cassette and also sort out this issue. So I had already planned a day or two as rest day here and had even emailed the McBike bike shop from the Cassiar to let them know I would bring the bike in over this weekend.
Today started same as normal where I had an occasional slip, but no more or less than normal. In the afternoon there were a few hills to climb over and also a nice tailwind from the north. The slipping was a bit more with the tailwind still tolerable. I had lunch in New Hazelton at 48km and another stop in Moricetown at 84km. I was looking forward to getting the last 30km and riding into Smithers.
At 97km there was a short hill to climb over. I geared down, but the slips seemed to increase compared with before. I tried several different gear combinations, but by time I was at top of the hill, it was now spinning freely in the wrong direction. The freehub had failed. I knew I was within 17km of downtown Smithers so worst case even within walking distance. The weather was good and the road was ok for walking. So I started walking with the bike. However, I had gone less than 300m when a pickup truck pulled up. He had noticed me walking and figured this wasn’t quite the right situation. I showed the issue and before I know it bike and all gear was in back of the pickup and on way to McBike.
We unloaded things downtown and did an initial diagnosis. We’re still in process of sorting everything out. The general direction would be either to build up a 36-spoke wheel from components here or to somehow get freehub components sent up here. Unfortunately, McBike doesn’t have a 36 hole hub in stock and Monday is a holiday in British Columbia. So we may have some things to sort out by Tuesday morning. In any case, probably best place to have this happen and otherwise was planning on looking around Smithers but might have a bit more time here than originally planned.
So time to let things unfold and sort out the immediate situation as well as figure out reasons why the freehub failed as soon as it did. I’ve had them fail before January 3rd and 8th 2001 in New Zealand and also in Thailand in 2007 and in Botswana April 2013 and December 2015 in San Clemente – so it is a circumstance I knew could happen but surprised it happened as quickly as it did since previous failing hubs generally had more mileage on them.
UPDATE 30 July
Had a chance to sort out a few more things here. In general my action plan is as follows:
- Plan A (preferred) – get hold of the hub manufacturer when they open for business on Monday morning. See how quickly I might be able to get a replacement hub sent to Smithers. I actually sent their sales/service email addresses an email yesterday evening but no response so likely needs to wait until they are open for business.
- Plan B (backup) – McBike doesn’t have a 36-spoke hub. However, the other bike shop C.O.B. does have a hub that should be possible to build a 36-spoke wheel. If Phil Woods can’t solve the problem or get a replacement shipped in reasonable time, then build a replacement wheel here to get on the road. In mean time, ship away the old wheel back to US and work with Phil Woods on replacement/fix after that.
Having a three day holiday doesn’t help but just need to get some time to get everything sorted out.