Yesterday was the probably the worst roadside breakdown scenario I’ve experienced. I’ve had rides brought to a premature end by forgetting to bring a pump, or multiple flats. I’ve had to radio for a car pickup miles from home before, and on a few occasions have had to beg bus drivers to give me a lift to the nearest train station. But this one takes the cake.

Picture it: beautiful, bright, crisp morning, early rise, good breakfast, 7.24 train from Marylebone. Humming along on the Denham loop, making good time. Set for a solid 4 hour ride, then back for a coffee on the train and big lunch.

Ping. Sounded funny. What the…

The hole where the spoke snapped off.

The hole where the spoke snapped off.

A spoke on my rear Neutron Ultra had snapped off at the rim and twanged into the middle of the road. The wheel instantly went way off true.

Realising the ride was effectively over, I checked the map and headed slowly towards Prince’s Risborough. The wheel was wobbling badly but I figured it would get me 5 miles to the train station, where I could pick up the line I came out on.


Shredded sidewall.

Shredded sidewall.

I should have seen it coming, but the wobbling wheel had (within about 200 yards) rubbed against the brake pads, worn the sidewall of the tyre down and exposed the inner tube, resulting in blowout.

Luckily, I was about 1 mile from Stoke Mandeville. Nothing for it but to walk, in cleats, along the road to the station. Could have been worse. Unfortunately, Stoke Mandeville is on a different line, so I’d have to buy a new ticket. No great shakes. It’s Saturday, though, and there’s no train on the line between Amersham and London Marylebone. The bus replacement service won’t take my bike, so I’ll need to get a Metropolitan Line train from Amersham. There’s maintenance on the Metropolitan Line as well, though, so I’ll only be able to travel as far as¬†Northwood, in Zone 6.

I’d managed to deal philosophically with the situation up to this point, but the realisation that I would have to get a taxi from Northwood back home to Hornsey was what tipped the whole experience from ‘one of those things’ into an unholy shafting. Sure enough, the taxi cost ¬£40.

This misadventure has also tipped my feelings about my wheelset into negative equity. Check the 7-month update here.

One Response to “Breakdown”

  1. Legs, Feeling No Pressure » Product review: Campagnolo Neutron Ultras May 30th, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    […] spoke on the rear wheel snapped without warning while I was out riding. I’ve been using the wheels consistently throughout the summer, but this isn’t heavy […]

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