An Ad Hoc Repair
We rode across the bridge and headed east. Before long, a light drizzle began to fall then a steady rain. We stopped beneath some trees and donned storm gear. I had run short of food the day before, and when I saw a supermarket in the little town of Spencerport, I peeled off, promising to reconnect with CJ and Scott down the road.
When I came out of the store with my groceries, the rain had stopped. I stood for a few moments, eating an orange and watching the clearing sky open to great patches of racing blue. CJ and Scott were up ahead somewhere and I calculated that it would take me at least half a day to catch up to them so imagine how surprised I was when, less than an hour later, I rounded a corner and saw my friends stopped at the side of the trail. CJ was standing on the edge of the pavement while Scott worked on his bike. When they saw me, they waved for me to stop. “What’s going on?” I said.
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“Scott’s chain broke,” CJ replied, “looks like we’re stalled.”
“The damn thing just came apart,” Scott said, looking up, “I figure I can just take out the bad link and reconnect it.”
I knelt down and examined the broken parts, “Yeah, it’ll be a couple of links short but it ought to work.”
“That’s what I thought,” Scott said, “problem is, I can’t get the pin back in.”
“Yup,” I nodded, “once the pin is out you’re cooked. The trick is to push it just far enough to break the chain but not all the way out.”
Scott began to carefully work the pin out of the next link. Just then, a couple of weekend cyclists rolled up. “Broken chain, huh?” One of them said, “Do you know how to fix it?”
Scott was focusing on the chain, so I took on the job of crowd control. “Yeah, we’ve got it. Just putting things back together.”
Now three more riders stopped. “You need some pliers,” one biker said, “to hold the link in place.”
“You ‘gotta squeeze the link,” advised another, “squeeezzzeee it!”
We were at a busy section of the trail and more bicyclists gathered until there were half a dozen men standing in a circle around Scott and me, each one shouting out advice.
“You’re never ‘gonna fix it that way!”
“He’s got the wrong tools!”
“Look at that chain! He needs a new one!”
“I’m going to call the bike shop, they can have a mechanic out here in half an hour!”
At one point, I had to physically restrain a couple of overly-helpful fellows who wanted to grab the chain out of Scott’s hands. “Hey, thanks, guys, but let’s let him do it,” I said.
Scott looked up at me, intensity in his eyes. “Just keep ‘em off me for a couple more minutes,” he pleaded, “I’ve about got it…” When the chain was repaired and back on, Scott flipped his bike over onto its wheels and a cheer went up from the crowd.
“I knew he could do it!”
“Never had a doubt!”
Scott bowed deeply to a round of applause.