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A cycling memory

Monday, September 29, 2014.  My 66th birthday.

Earlier, I had posted a bike ride on the LWA website to Daniel Boone Homestead, planning once again to ride my age in miles.  Nine of us met at the Velodrome and headed southwest on a beautiful, calm, warm and mostly sunny autumn morning.

About twelve miles out, as we were entering the town of Bowers, I hear an unusual noise from a bike behind me, followed by the cry, "Mechanical".  We slowly spun around to find out what had happened and to whom.  We discovered that Roy Derr had hit a pothole and broken a spoke.

It was his front wheel, a Mavic, the type that has only 18 aluminum spokes.  So whether it was because of the wheel design or force of hitting the pothole, the wheel went far out of true.  Our designated mechanic, Tim Reilly, immediately took charge.  He loosened the front brake to provide more clearance.  He attempted to tighten the opposing spokes.  He pressed on the rim in an attempt to straighten it.  He muttered a few incantations to the wheel.  All to no avail.

Meanwhile, Sylvia had phoned the nearest bike shop, The Sleeping Dog, in Topton, where she had purchased her bike and knew the owner.  He answered the phone, but the shop was closed on Monday, and besides, he was out on a bike ride.

As our available options diminished, it appeared that Roy was done riding for the day.  We discussed alternatives, the most desirable of which seemed to be calling his brother to come and rescue him.

As we deliberated, Jessica, a young Mennonite girl, attired in a cotton dress and a hair net, came out from the nearby farmhouse and asked what the problem was.  When we explained the situation, she very generously offered to loan Roy the front wheel from her own bike.  As she walked back into the house to get her wheel, I imagined her returning with a fat, 26" balloon tire on a chrome plated steel rim which would be nothing close to what would fit on Roy's bike.  We were all pleasantly surprised when she brought out a 700c tire and rim that fit perfectly into Roy's front fork.  Even the blue color of the rim matched the paint on Roy's Colnago.  The stars were truly in alignment.

We thanked her profusely and Roy left his disabled wheel with her, along with his promise to drive back later in the afternoon to exchange them.  Heading up toward Dryville, the road seemed a little smoother, the sun a little warmer, the climb not quite as steep.

The rest of the ride to Daniel Boone and back was uneventful, (OK, the ride leader forgot to verify that Daniel Boone was open on Monday.  It was officially closed, but the gate was open and the rest rooms were unlocked.) and the ice cream at the Oley Valley Turnpike Dairy on the way back was especially tasty.    

We sent an LWA tee shirt along back with Roy for Jessica as a small token of our appreciation.  And yes, I had a happy birthday.

Jack Helffrich

LWA PresidentRoy Derr wheel

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