Murphy’s Laws of Cycling

This past week on the bike hasn’t been everything I hoped it would be. With the club’s trip to Wachusett Mountain coming up next weekend, I scheduled a long ride for last Saturday as a final tuneup. Unfortunately, instead of getting a nice long ride in, I had an Educational Experience.

About 30 miles into a planned 65-miler, I discovered the first of Murphy’s Laws of Cycling:
Fixed cups, aren’t
I was cruising along with a couple of clubmates when I started feeling a clunk in my pedal stroke. I stopped at a convenient place and evaluated the wobble in my crank – somehow, the bottom bracket’s fixed cup was working itself loose. I overhauled the bottom bracket a few months ago but didn’t touch the fixed cup – in fact, the fixed cup probably hasn’t been touched since the bike was originally built up in 1993. Fortunately we were just a few miles from home so I was able to cut the ride short and make it back to the house before the cup came out completely. I repacked the exposed bearings and snugged the cup back into place – I’ll definitely check that again before the climb.
Last night I undertook another preparatory step for Saturday’s hilly ride – mounting lower gears. My options are somewhat limited these days, since I have a near-obsolete system, but I was able to get a cassette with a 26-tooth low cog. That should get me up the mountain, perhaps with some straining, but it’s better than my previous low of 23. When I dropped the rear wheel to mount the new cassette, I stumbled on the second Law:
Bearing seals, don’t
When I spun the wheel in my hands, it sounded like I had gravel in the bearings. When I disassembled the hub I found that the right-side bearings were dark, and the cup and cone were scored. I did one fairly rainy ride at the beginning of June, and that may have contaminated the bearings. This isn’t the first time this has happened – as I recall, it also happened on RAGBRAI back in 1993, right after I built up the bike. I’m not sure if this is due to poor design or my lack of attention, but it certainly is annoying. Back then I was able to get replacement bearing cups and cones, but I’m not sure they’re still available. Even if I could find the spare parts, I doubt I could get them mounted up before next weekend. I’ll just have to put new balls in and then start shopping for a new rear wheel.
Despite this trouble, I had a pretty good ride this morning with the club. We did our usual three laps of Unquity Road-Rt 138-Canton Ave, at what I consider a pretty stiff pace (my average was 22.4 MPH). We had a fairly strong group today and I kept up pretty well, and took a couple of good turns at the front. I haven’t done as much hill work as some of the other riders, but just maybe I’m ready for the mountain. We’ll soon find out.