Monday, August 16, 2010


Amber and I (well, mostly I) wanted to do a little bicycling during our time in Jacksonville, so we hooked up the bike rack to the car and went on our merry way. If you follow me on Twitter/Facebook, then you already know that it didn't exactly go according to plan.

And that brings me to my main issue with Twitter. The 140 character limitation means you can't always tell the whole story, so my infamous 'tweet' may have been a little misleading. If it invoked images of a bike tumbling end-over-end down the interstate, that's not really what happened. Yes, the bike did fall off the bike rack, and yes, it did fall onto I-95 while driving at 75 mph. But it was still attached to the car, thanks to a strap we tied between the front wheel of Amber's bike and the front wheel of my bike.

Granted, that's better than having a complete disconnect, and we were very fortunate to not have any other cars around us at the time, but dragging a bike down the pavement at interstate highway speeds still isn't good. The bike was unrideable after the spill, and at the time I really did think the bike was "totaled". (I tend to overreact in the heat of the moment, eh, Amber?) Sure, we could replace what's broken or damaged, but would it be worth it? And surely, we wouldn't have time to fix it that weekend, right?

By the time I calmed down a little (the next morning), I had a clearer view of the damage. The rear wheel took quite a hit would need to be completely replaced before the bike could even be remotely rideable again. The bike seat also needed to be replaced after being dragged along I-95. Parts of the handlebars and gear selectors were scraped off, too, but those were still seemingly functional. And, there didn't appear to be any damage to the chain, frame, or anything else. So...all we needed to at least get the bike rideable again was a new rear wheel and a new seat. (That's what Amber told me all along, for the record.) And that's how we spent our Friday morning. I still wasn't completely sure that's all we needed to do to fix the bike, but sure enough, that was it. Happy Chris!

The new parts cost about $110, or one-fifth of the bicycle's original value, making the repairs worth the effort. (The bike is 14 months old and has 1,600 miles on it. I don't know how much bikes depreciate in value, but the bike has to be worth at least two-thirds of the original price at this point, right?) The gear shifts aren't as smooth as they used to be, but REI can take care of that. Besides, any more mileage I can get out of my bike at this point is bonus mileage.

Meanwhile, I think I know why the bike came loose. I-95 in South Carolina is very bumpy, so all those bumps probably jarred the bike up and off the rack. (Yes, we tightened all the straps, but the bike doesn't fit perfectly on the rack, apparently.) We didn't have any problems at all with the bikes on the return trip, but still, that'll be the last time we take our bikes more than a couple of hours away from home. The bikes took most the fun out of the drive (both ways). On top of that, they also reduce visibility, and they kill our gas mileage. Instead of the usual 35 mpg highway, Amber's car would only get 27-28 mpg with those two bikes hanging out in the wind back there. That means we spent approximately $20 extra in gas money getting to Florida and back because of the bikes. Next time, we're renting.

And for those of you who are thinking about taking your bikes on your own long drive, a word of advice: you can NEVER use too much rope.

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