While riding yesterday afternoon I noticed the bike's drive train felt rough turning the cranks in some of the gears. There were lots of hills and I was torquing up them. Today it felt worse so I was wondering if the gears needed adjustment or the chain needed replacement. When we stopped for lunch I inspected the chain and noticed it had stretched to the point that the chain wasn't fully engaging the chain ring. I knew the chain needed to be replaced. I did bring a new chain with us, so I thought the best option was to replace it before the stretched chain wears away the teeth in the cogs and chain ring.
However the chain on the bike didn't have a maser link that could be removed by hand or with pliers. I found out later there is a specific chain tool that presses out the pins in the links. So I put everything back together and continued riding.
The nearest bike shop was 50 miles away. I thought if I could have a mechanic's shop cut through the old chain, I could install the new chain and put this problem behind me. The first opportunity was a muffler and radiator shop. The older gentleman and owner, named Steven Smith, said all he had to cut the chain was a cutting torch. We both decided this probably wasn't a good idea. So off I went further down the road.
The next opportunity several miles later was Smith Automotive. The owner's name was also, Steve Smith. This Steve Smith offered to cut the chain with his grinding wheel. This was acceptable, so off came the old chain. When I installed the new chain it immediately became obvious the new chain was longer than the old one. It would not even operate on the small chain ring. I thought I must have the wrong replacement chain. I put the bike on the back of he car and off we drove to find a bike shop.
I spoke with Debbie Johnson, the owner of Bicycle Specialists in Joplin MO. She said that replacement chains come with extra links so they will fit several bikes and she could most likely make the new chain fit the bike. So we drove there. Tim Cote, the expert mechanic was able to help and the bike is running as smooth as silk.. I bought a chain tool, so now I'll be able to add and remove links, if necessary. Debbie gave me a good cycling route so I could make up the difference from the time spent with the bike on the car today. This made for a long day as I rode until sunset.
Tim Cote is not only a expert bike machanic, he is also a musician (drummer) in a band called "Me Like Bees". This is good music, check this link out.
Later in the evening, Claire and I went to a local Bob Evans restaurant where we met two waitresses, Kelsey Britt and Danielle Hext, who were amazed to hear about the cross country journey. As it turns out, Danielle's father has Multiple Sclerosis. I asked Danielle to tell her dad I am riding for him. It was meant to be.
We had a full day with a perfect ending.
|Steve Smith of Smith's Automotive|
|Tim Cote and Debbie Johnson|
|Kelsey Britt and Danielle Hext|