Thursday, April 9, 2009

How To: Open A Car Door With A Bike Brake Cable

Like you, since I’ve been cycling, I keep miniscule old bike parts that are still in working condition.  In my toolbox you’ll find old cleats, a used buckle for Sidi shoes, and odd bar end plugs.  I have things in Glad snack bags that I literally have to hold up to a light upside down before I recall what it is.  “Oh yeah!  Those are the spare plastic stops for my wife’s bottle cages.”  As long as they are in decent shape, I keep old road and mountain shift and brake cables.  You never know when you’re going to break one, need to MacGruber one into a cyclocross cantilever hanger cable….or tie one in just the right way to jimmy your teammate’s car door open 15 minutes before a race because they accidently locked their door with their keys helmet and shoes inside. 

That happened Sunday.

No lie.  Well maybe we had a half hour before the official’s gun, but just as everyone is starting to get warmed up she came over to our truck out of breath and in a tizzy.  “Omigod!  Ilockedmykeysinmycar an an and my helmet’s in there.   WhatdoIdo?”  “I guess we could call a park ranger, the office is right over there,” I said.  My wife and another girl went over to stir up a ranger.  In the meantime, I sauntered over to her car.  The door was just barely locked.  I could just about get a finger through the corner.  I overheard someone say, “Does anyone have a coat hanger?”  As I eyed up the latch on the inside of the door, I realized it stuck out just enough that I could probably hook it with something…something like a brake cable!

I jogged back to our truck.  No lie, there’s 15 minutes to post time at this point.  I grabbed a brake cable out of the bottom drawer of my tool box.  I tied the non-stopper end in a 6-7 inch loop.  That way, I figured, I’d have the stopper end to hang on to.  I jogged back to her car.

I fished the looped end through the corner with the biggest gap between the door and the car and fed the slack inside so the loop fell below the height of the latch.  I then slowly worked the whole assembly so it was slightly forward of the latch.  I gave it a few twists and dips and within about a minute I had the loop around the latch.  This is the point where the sweat beads appeared on my forehead. 

Focus.  Steady.  Focus. 

I took up the slack, moving the assembly back toward the corner of the door with the big gap.  I had this doggie lassoed.  Yank!  Nothing.  Yank!  Nothing.  YANK!  Open!  Hugs and cheers all around.

Today I got this group email:  “…Oh, Joe forgot to tell everyone that he is a hero.  I locked my keys in the car right before the race...and he totally got it open with a cable!!!  …you guys rock!  I think Joe has a talent and maybe a second career...? :)”

Hero?  I don’t think so.  Talent for 2nd career?  Maybe 3rd or 4th.  Really I just like to impress my wife with my mad man-skills.  

Got time for more?  Read this previous MacGuyver-esque post about fixing a flat by tying a tube in a knot.

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