Today I learned that bike chains stretch over time.
I had plans for today, I really did. I was gonna get up, go to the gym and sort out some personal admin stuff. Didn’t really happen. Instead I spent a while trying to handshake a conversation between friends for a project I’m doing with one of them. We need a logo, and friend 2 is a skilled artist. Thing is, friend 1 is the person who knows what they want in a logo. Try as I might to organise things with friend 2, it’s sorta meaningless to organise them when friend 1 has the ideas. It took a while to sort out, but good things will likely come from that conversation, so altogether worth it.
By the time I’d finished with all that, I was ready to get active. I got on my bike and rode towards the gym. 300m or so I stopped and turned. Did I really feel like the gym? Or just to get out and about before snow fell again? I decided on the latter, so turned around to drop my stuff back off at home. Bike chain fell off. I pushed my bike back home, and worked on getting the chain back on in my backyard. I love my bike, I love the gears, I like that there’s a housing for the chain, except when I have to put it back on. Then it’s just incredibly cumbersome. To add insult to injury, I’m pretty clueless with bikes. I have a vague idea of how the chain fits back in, but I’m clumsy. I managed to get it back on, at the expense of greasy fingers. I decided that maybe I could bike instead of gymming, and do an errand to get the most out of it. I had shorts to get repaired at Lululemon, after the zippers felt straight out of the pockets. Great excuse for a bike ride.
I got on my bike and rode again. Directly across the street from where I turned around last time, my bike chain fell off again. It fucking sucked. Here I was, fuming in this park. I had my big coat on, gloves, earbuds, helmet, it all had to come off for me to get into the chain. Even worse, it fell behind the gear, stuck between that and the housing. I had to forage for strong thin sticks to push it back into place. Took maybe 10 minutes. Incredibly frustrating. At every intersection I worried the chain would fall down again. It stayed tight all the way down to Queen, and I parked with relief. I dropped the shorts off, then noticed MEC out of the corner of my eye.
I entered MEC and looked for the bike centre. I asked a mechanic in there about bike chains, if it was an easy problem to fix. “Should be” he said, and told me to bring it in. He hoisted it up onto a rack and brought out this little metal tool. He nestled it into a length of bike chain. He looked closer, then nodded. “Your chain has stretched a little. I can tighten it up in a couple of minutes.” He went to work and explained that bike chains stretch over time. Their lifespan depends on the amount of strain, weight they ferry, general work they’re put through, and maintenance schedule. They weren’t incredibly expensive to replace, but I probably had a few more months on mine. He said there was no charge, as he gave the wheel a good greasing.
Couldn’t have planned it better.