Chain reaction

Close-up photograph of a bike chain.
Artist’s impression of a bicycle chainy geary thing.

I went out with Jane today. We’re married, I know, but we wanted to somehow re-live the excitement of those heady days of dating. Oh hang on! No. I hadn’t finished that first sentence. I’ll start again.

I went out with Jane today on our bikes. That’s what I meant to say. I accompanied Jane on one of her training runs in preparation for Friday’s sponsored cycle from Glasgow to Edinburgh.

We cycled about 10 miles. It took us about an hour, because greedy Jane had two problems with her chain and gears. The first incident was (hopefully) pretty minor:

  1. there was a clicking sound (not good)
  2. we stopped
  3. and I lubed her chain (is it just me, or does that sound rude?)

It was at that point that I realised just how disgusting her chain was. It was as though a garden centre had staged a Bring and Buy sale there.

The second incident was quite spectacular. On our return leg (the Colinsburgh to Pittenweem road) Jane’s gears started crunching as she changed down as we approached a slight hill.

And then her chain came off. On the inside. By which I mean it came off the cogs towards the frame, and well and truly jammed itself between the front chainrings and the frame. I couldn’t budge it.

At one point I thought I was going to have to unlink and remove the chain, but

  1. the chain was so filthy, and
  2. it wouldn’t move at all so I couldn’t locate the removable link.

Time for Plan B.

Whatever that was. I had no idea.

“Can I do anything to help?” asked Jane, kindly.
“Pray,” said I.

And prayer seemed to do the trick. That and some vigourous waggling of the chain and some excessive force on the pedals. (Oops!) Anyway, with the chain on, and the clicking starting up again, we managed to get back to Cellardyke in one piece.

This evening we got the rubber gloves on, the bucket of soapy water filled, and were out in our wee courtyard cleaning the bikes, in preparation for my taking Jane’s bike in for a service tomorrow in St Andrews. Muc-Off is wonderful stuff, that’s all I can say.

Examining Jane’s bike when we got it clean I discovered that she has five or six broken teeth on her front chainrings. No wonder she’s had trouble with it. I’m just glad that Jane’s bike will be getting a full and professional medical before she pedals her way from Glasgow on Friday, that’s all I can say.

That and “Muc-Off is wonderful stuff”.

Keep your lights bright and clean. Sure, but keep your chain clean too, that’s the moral of the story today, I think.

I cleaned and re-lubed my chain too, this evening. Just in case.

Published by

Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 52 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Enneagram type FOUR and introvert (INFP), I am a non-stipendiary priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir, play guitar, play mahjong, write, draw and laugh… Former Scrum master at Safeguard Global, Sky and Vision/Cegedim. Former web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and previously warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall.

2 thoughts on “Chain reaction”

  1. The teeth might not be broken on the chainset. They are designed like that to aid changing gear (if you don’t believe me go to a bike shop and have a look at a new one). Saying that, they do need replaced after a few thousand miles (sooner if they aren’t kept clean – grid would beat metal in paper, scissors stone). A good clean and checking the gear cables (they don’t last very long usually…they stretch) might just do the trick. Oh, and lube the cables (squirt some lube down inside the plastic tubes and rear mech – that’ll make a massive difference.

  2. Thanks. So we discovered when we took the bike into the bike shop for a service. I’ve never seen chainrings like that before — every day’s a school day. Jane got a new chain — that’s what was making the clicking noise: a broken chain.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.