One Wheel on my Wagon

There are days when cycling is just a matter of pedalling down empty rural lanes in the spring sunshine, the blackthorn bursting into flower all around you, birds singing, sheep fleeing, scattering cheery nods and waves to all as you fly past them with the wind at your back.

And there are days when your front wheel comes off.

Not, I hasten to add, when I was in motion. I had been in Bigtown to visit the library, and attend a meeting which had then been cancelled – it was shaping up to be one of those days, frankly – and I had gone on, down the river path to look at an art-cum-performance-cum-tidal-power installation that was shut down at the time of my visit. As I turned to go home, I heard a strange rubbing noise, looked down and saw that my front wheel had come out of its front wheel attachy things (you’ll excuse the technical term) and the nuts holding it on had worked themselves loose. Aargh. Naturally this happened on the day I’d not bothered with my phone because really, what could go wrong on a jaunt into Bigtown and back? I managed to get the wheel back on, but crooked, and had to limp two miles back with the front brake alternately not working and rubbing to the nearest bike shop (which was closed) and then the second nearest bike shop where a very nice young man managed to get it back on straight by hitting it with a hammer*.

‘How could such a thing have happened?’ I asked.

‘The only way is if someone didn’t put it on properly in the first place,’ he said.

Ah. That someone would be me. About two months ago I had to take the wheel off to get it in someone’s car to go for a ride, and I’d been foolhardy enough to put the wheel back on myself the second time as it seemed pretty straightforward…not in my hands, obviously. Anyway, I cycled back, into the wind, two pounds poorer and somewhat shaken in my belief that I was beginning to get the hand of these bicycle things. the other half is going to have to have a good look at my bike to see if any other important bits are in the process of coming off. Meanwhile, I think a bicycle repair course for the mechanically challenged may well be in order…

* It was a little more complicated than this, but that seemed to be the thing that did the trick. Indeed, I was a bit relieved that it took him a certain amount of monkeying about with it to get it straight, so it wasn’t just me being an idiot, but that may just be standard bike shop mechanic courtesy towards distressed female customers who have something ludicrously simple wrong with their bikes

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17 Responses to One Wheel on my Wagon

  1. justwilliams says:

    Phew! Very pleased to hear that you were not cycling at the time.

  2. Autolycus says:

    A lucky escape indeed. And in two ways – two whole pounds? You can tell you’re not in London – I hate to think how much a lot of places would charge for swinging a hammer….

  3. disgruntled says:

    JW – I think as long as there was weight on the front wheel it was okay, just when I picked it up to turn it round. But I was very glad not to have to cycle back on the road in those conditions
    Autolycus – perhaps I’ve been in Scotland too long, I thought it was rather steep for 2 minutes work! But the bus home would have cost more so I wasn’t complaining

  4. Ruaraidh says:

    Lefty loosey, righty tighty. Easy! Nice 16mm spanner and you’re done. Alternatively, you could just get some quick releases? Still, at least it didn’t come flying off while you were cycling or, God forbid, doing a wheelie! (you probably don’t do those as a serious cyclist though…) ;-))

  5. [...] calls for more stringent testing of drivers. What to do when you’re riding in Scotland and your wheel falls off. A new British motorists’ guide urges cyclists to claim the lane, while a leading bike group says [...]

  6. Dom says:

    The mechanic did not ‘hit it with a hammer’. He performed ‘percussive maintenance’, a mystical art known to Men Who Fix Things :)

  7. The Paperboy says:

    Dare I suggest as an even less serious cyclist than yourself, carrying a basic toolkit… it doesn’t have to be anything massive – I carry a spare inner tube, a puncture repair kit, a valve removal tool,
    plastic tyre levers (I carry 5 because that’s how many I can squeeze into the bag), a pump, 2 dumbbell spanners (there are those times that you need one to hold the bolt head whilst you undo the nut), 2 allen keys to suit the sizes on the bike…

    It’s all in a pouch (apart from the pump) that’s attached to the saddle (a saddle bag if you like). Weighs less than a pound and has saved my bacon more than once.

  8. disgruntled says:

    Ruaridh – that part I got more or less right. The problem was it wasn’t straight, so it was bound to work its way loose in the end. The impressive bit (to me) was that it took two months …
    Dom – hah, yes, although he described it as ‘persuading it’. Kind of like the CIA…
    Paperboy – I’ve got all the hardware, it’s the software that’s the problem. I’m thinking of ditching the tool kit and packing an emergency skirt instead, so I can stand by the roadside looking helpless.

  9. Funnily enough we seem to get a lot of this in the shop.

    When you put a wheel on, release the brake on the top so its nice and easy to get the tyre through. And then use the bikes weight to help push the wheel into the fromt wheel attachy things.

    As an aside I sympathise with the lack of jargon as I’m trying to learn things like ‘front wheel attachy things’ in German at the moment.

  10. Oh. one more thing: Put the brake back together afterwards. Forgetting to do this is a mistake you’ll only make once.

  11. disgruntled says:

    Andy – what is it in German? Or in English indeed…

    He did make very sure to test the brakes before I left the shop.

  12. The Paperboy says:

    Ah well – until you sort the software out you need to hope that this man is in the neighbourhood

  13. Autolycus says:

    In German? I would hazard a guess at Vornerfahrradsteckstelledingsbums.

  14. Dom says:

    Ah – persuading is a very advanced form of percussive maintenance known to a very few. You must have engaged the services of a Bike Whisperer which makes it all the more impressive that he only charged you £2.

  15. Babymother says:

    Two pounds?!? That’d be £37.50 ex VAT in this neck of the woods.

  16. Babymother says:

    Oh bother. Should have read the other comments before writing my own which has already been said twice. It’s because you send me that weekly digest spam. Now stop distracting me, I’m meant to be studying.

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