Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Face of Jesus in Matt’s Saddle Bag

Look!  I think I see the face of Jesus.  Like the shroud of Turin, inside his saddle bag, the spare tube and Allen wrenches were wrapped in a tie-dye-esque aged rust stained cloth.  I unraveled the wrenches and held out the cloth.  Behold!  That might fetch a few bucks on eBay.  They’ve been in the seat bag a long time, not quite B.C. old, but maybe before Bieber.  25 miles from home, I was helping Matt from Smitty’s Cyclery in Cincinnati replace a broken shift cable.  Yes.  He carries a spare.

Wrapping your tube and tools are just one of the lessons I learned from Big Matt’s saddle bag.  A former racer on the track and on the road, I’m sure Matt’s no stranger to weight weenie tendencies.  Matt proved you can pack a lot and still pack light.  The bag was packed with the expertise of an Everest climber, the necessities of survival in a few cubic inches.  I’ve had a day to think about it, and there’s not a mechanical incident that would’ve had Matt calling for a ride home.  Inside Matt’s saddle bag: tube, mini-tool with chain breaker, select 4-5-6 Allen wrenches, patch kit, brake and shifter cable, a five spot, a zip tie, and a chain pin.  I wouldn’t doubt there were a spare cleat and/or bottle cage bolt in there somewhere.  He kept the mini pump in his jersey pocket.

The black thing is the free hub body.
Matt explained the zip tie was in case your free hub body dies.  The free hub body is the thing your cassette rides on.  Its ratcheting pawls allow you to coast and engage the gears.  When it dies, and they do occasionally, you’re left…coasting home.  To fix on the fly, you can zip-tie the cassette to the spokes and get yourself home in a fixed-gear sort of way.  A zip tie can also fix a broken bottle cage, keep a busted derailleur out of your spokes or can be traded to the locals for corn and beads.

Wrapping your spare tube and tools in cloth accomplishes two, three, maybe four things.  For one, it prevents you from being the annoying Mr. Jangly Bag on group rides.  Two, it keeps sharp edge tools from serrating your spare tube.  Three, I would hedge a bet that it keeps spare tubes from drying out and/or prevents the valve-tube junction from becoming oxidized.  Lastly, it never hurts to have a rag for sweaty hands or keeping gooey chain greased hands from messing up white bar tape.

The black thing is a zip tie.
While Matt worked to get the broken cable end out of his shifter, I reached over his bike and undid the fixing bolt on his Dura Ace rear derailleur.  Matt’s got many miles in his legs, no stranger to being 2 hours from home with a mechanical.  He’s a mechanic at Smitty’s Cyclery in Cincinnati.  Yet even he packs a spare derailleur cable and a spare brake cable in his seat bag.  I scratched my head.  His Land Shark bike was impeccably clean and well maintained.  Having worked at a shop myself, I take pride wrenching on my own bikes and used to have a relative comfort in thinking that my cables are new and all bolts are properly fixed.  I don’t need to bring a multi-tool or anything beyond a tube, cartridge, mini-pump and five-dollar bill.  There on a flat road, 2 hours from home, Matt snapped a cable, fixed it with a spare in the span of 5 minutes and left me questioning my minimalist logic.

No comments: