* One nice thing about being unemployed is being able to take advantage of good weather as it's happening.
** A northwest wind is probably the most advantageous direction for the trip, as opposed to last year when I had to slog through Slocum into the teeth of a northeast wind. Still, even that's better than any wind from the south for the trek down Rt. 2 and the bike path.
All was fine until I reached the end of the bike path behind Sprague Park in Narragansett. As I started heading up the hill to scenic 1A and thence to Ocean Road, the cable snapped off inside the rear shifter mechanism. At the time I didn't know this specifically, just even though I could click the shifter to my heart's content, nothing was happening. The cable was the first thing I thought to check, but it seemed intact. Which it was, mostly. It was just that first quarter of an inch or so, which I totally missed. I thought perhaps something had broken inside the derailleur. All I knew for sure at the time was that a) I could no longer shift the rear derailleur, b) the derailleur was now stuck in its default position, which is its highest gear***, and c) there was nothing I could do to fix it.
*** Looking back, this should've been a further clue that it was the cable and not a broken derailleur. My rear derailleur is designed so that at zero cable tension it's at its highest, i.e., smallest, gear. The cable is then used to pull it, and thus the chain, across the lower (bigger) gears.
So there I was, fifteen miles from home with a broken, yet rideable bike. The problem was that although still rideable, it wasn't going to be a lot of fun. My Fuji has nine gears on the rear cassette and three chain rings on the crank. Lately, I've been doing most of my riding in 5th, 6th, and 7th gears using the middle chain ring, with 6th being what I use most on the flat. Now I was stuck in 9th gear, which when using the middle chain ring turns out to be significantly difficult for me to crank unless I'm moving down a pretty good hill. So I tried switching to the lower chain ring, which with 9th gear gives a gear ratio equivalent to 7th on the middle chain ring. Hard going up hill, but much more doable to get me back home.
This, however, creates another problem, the bicycle equivalent to crossing the streams. Derailleur systems are not designed for the chain to run between the low gear on the crank and the high gear on the cassette, or vice versa. The chain winds up constantly rubbing up against the front derailleur, making rat-a-tat-tat sounds as each link hits the metal. It's annoying as heck, and it does the chain no good at all****. So I resolved to do the best I could using the middle chain ring, only switching to the lower ring when absolutely necessary.
**** This turns out to be a not so subtle bit of foreshadowing.
This worked for several miles, enough so that I decided not to stop at the local bike shop*****, which I passed within a block of, in favor of sticking it out and a later trip up to see Bike Shop Guy at Providence Bicycles. Then a couple of miles further up the road, the chain broke. Bother.
***** I bought my Univega at the local shop, and was happy with the purchase, but later on they did a bad job on repair I'd had done there, so I've avoided the place since. Although, it was a long time ago and the guy who did the bad work (a part substitution without consulting me) is probably long gone.
At this point I was still nine miles from home. On the other hand, I was only 4½ miles from Kingston Station, where I usually park for these jaunts, and Kingston Station is a stop on the bus line that goes up Rt. 2 past my road. So I set off walking along the bike path. I gotta say, it wasn't a bad walk. There are a couple of long down-hill grades that I was able to coast down on the bike, about a half mile's worth. The weather was still absolutely gorgeous, and apart from being annoyed about the bike, I enjoyed it. I doubt I'll be making a habit of it, though.
At the station I locked up the bike and caught the next bus north. Best two bucks I ever spent, despite having to stand because the bus was packed with URI students heading home for the day. Fifteen minutes later followed by another half mile amble and I was home. Changed, took the truck down to pick up the bike, and headed on up to Warwick for repairs, which is another story.