If it all happened to the same bike, I'd have to call it cursed. Three very different bikes; three very different breakages. The crank could have been accompanied by a pretty bad wreck, the frame could lead to a horrific future crash, and the spoke, well, it was the third thing to break. Weird, (and you'll see why), but no biggie. That all three led to some fortunate results, I'll chalk up to serendipity.
It's a strange sensation to have a pedal disappear. We were seven miles in to what would turn out to be a twenty-five mile day, on our way to a collection of youngsters celebrating a fifth birthday on the other side of town. We were pulling into a lunch spot and I did one of those "swing-the-leg-over-at-low-speed" dismounts and I just sorta landed on the ground. I was pulling the kiddo in his Weehoo and Cinda was riding her newly built Xtracycle. That she was even on the Xtra was the result of newly found frame damage on her Mixte. Bad luck, good. Or something like that.
On Friday last, I was doing some much needed post-winter rebuilding. The snow and salt had been tough on Cinda's mixte, a beautiful Japanese built chromo frame. Mud and rust had taken it's toll. Look at those frozen links in the chain! And I'd done some upkeep, mind you. Winter was saltier than snowy. They lay it down thick around here.
The plan was a rebuild. Jettison the studded tires and build it up as a fun townie. 1x7, porteur bars, high volume tires, Velo Orange metal fenders and rack. It was going to be its softer, sweeter side again. And that's when I spotted it. Frame damage. Classic, front-end impact frame damage. It probably happened years before she owned it, but winter's salt had revealed what otherwise would have remained hidden. There was a slight bend only detectable if you studied it and a slight ripple perceptible if you got the shadows to work in your favor. It's probably rideable, for a while. But it's not me on top of it; it's my gal.
Mixte rebuild abandoned meant Xtracycle build could commence, stealing useful bits off the Mixte as I went. It went together quickly. So quickly, in fact, that Cinda decided its inaugural ride should be the next day on our long excursion to that birthday party some twelve miles away.
Anyway, crank gone bad and the unintended happenstance of two modes for kid conveyance meant we could keep Butter happy while I investigated options at a nearby shop. Cinda took Buckaroo to lunch, and then on our planned bookstore-gift errand for something "all things Star Wars." Little Luke loves it. He started calling our black cat Kylo Ren. He knew I was Darth Vader to his Luke before he ever heard the line. Truth is, he's never seen the movie. Any of those movies. I just started telling him Star Wars stories when I ran out of other bedtime stories to tell. He's been Luke for Halloween twice.
And how lucky were we that Cinda was on a kid-friendly Xtra? And how lucky that my disappearing crank happened two doors down from a shop? And how lucky that said shop had a used 9-speed XT crankset they were willing to part with for $20. Granted, it added up to $80 all told with the new bottom bracket and the install. But still, what are the odds?
And how lucky that when rummaging through their parts bin looking for a crank they came across an XTR M960 crankset with two spent rings. It's a crank I've always admired, even if just to look at. And what are the odds when I said, "that's a pretty crank" the owner of said shop said: "Take it. It's yours for free."
And then the weird spoke break. Smack dab in the middle. What are the odds, I ask? Granted, it was on my Xtracycle hauling too much gear on only one side causing some freakish lateral forces. But still, in the middle?
And what came of that unfortunate spoke break? The shop two blocks from our house has some pretty cool folks working there, including Jimmy. I was planning to stop in later that afternoon and pick up a tandem cable they had waiting for me. In the meantime, I was perusing Craigslist looking for a replacement Mixte frame when I came across a Park repair stand for an absolute song. They didn't need it anymore. Wanted it to go to a good home. I texted an inquiry. The response? "Brad, this is Jimmy. You can pick up the stand at the shop when you grab that cable." I mean, come on, what are the odds?