Since it was a sunny but cool day (by Southern California standards) I decided to ride up to the Top of the World in Laguna Beach. The climb itself from the Pacific Coast Highway is just over one mile long but oh what a mile! The hill has an average grade in excess of 10% with the last part of the climb jumping to over 20%! This is a ride I've done numerous times so I knew what to expect. What I didn't expect was the unexpected.
As I turned onto Thalia Street to start the climb, I got out of the saddle and stepped on the pedals. Suddenly, I heard a snap and the sound of my chain hitting the spokes of my real wheel. My first thought was "What the h***??" followed by CRAP!
After frantically popping my feet out of my pedals before I fell over, I looked down to see my chain wrapped around the front chainrings. My first thought was a broken chain, something that is not unheard of.
Upon further inspection, what I saw was that the metal arm on rear derailleur had literally snapped in half with the only thing keeping it together being the internal spring. My day was done before it had hardly begun! Who would've thought that a Shimano derailleur would snap off? Not me but it did. I even took pictures to prove it!
What is the lesson you ask? Preventative maintenance checks cannot be overlooked. For the past week, I had noticed a clicking noise that I attributed to a worn chain being used on a new cassette. During each ride I would remind myself to check it out only to leave it for another day.
Could I have predicted this? Probably not but had I taken a closer look, I might have realized that in fact the chain was ok so perhaps there was a derailleur problem. Here is my advice:
- Listen for any unusual noises coming from your bike. If properly maintained, the only noise you should be hearing, other than the wind past your ears, is the occasional light noise from hub when you are free wheeling.
- After each ride, take a couple of minutes to look your bike over. If you did hear some odd noises, try to isolate the area from where you think it is originating.
- When all else fails, take your bike to a qualified mechanic and explain to them what you are hearing. Your safety isn't worth not doing it.