31 May 2014

Sunrise over Da Saitama

The last two weekends I was in the U.S. with family to celebrate a son's college graduation and my 30th reunion, off the bicycle.

So I planned to join Todor, Eric and 4-5 others for their annual Sea-to-Sea Stupidity ("SSS") ride.  The ride departs Shinjuku at 230AM Saturday morning, heads north to the Arakawa, then NW through Gunma, Karuizawa, Ueda, Nagano, and over a last hill before a descent into Naoetsu (the same descent that is part of the new, 2011 et seq. Tokyo-Itoigawa course).   After a celebratory toe-dip in the Sea of Japan, there should still be time for beer and food (in that order) and a train ride home Saturday evening.  It sounded like a perfect substitute for Tokyo-Itoigawa (held during my trip to the U.S.) and way to get to know a few other long-time expat cyclists.

Everything went fine until around 4:15AM, 48 kms from my house, as we headed up cycling paths along/near the Arakawa making very good time.

Then, as I turned a corner on a short gravel/construction stretch and started to accelerate again, I heard an awful sound from my drivetrain, and after another half-pedal, my feet locked.  I quickly unclipped to take a look.

A piece of wet tissue/baby wipe had somehow gotten mangled into my rear derailleur, pulled in along the chain.  The derailleur had swung back and snapped off near the base that connects to the hangar.  The derailleur had been carried back through the cassette and forward toward the front derailleur, where it had jammed with enough force to twist the front derailleur around the seat tube 20 degrees or so, and of course mangle its cage.  Baby wipe-1, SRAM Wi-Fli Rival rear derailleur-0.
A wet tissue-jammed chain should NOT result in a metal fracture at the base of the rear derailleur.

Shredded rear derailleur, shredded front derailleur
It only took a few seconds to figure out that my ride had ended for today.  I said my farewells and sent the others on.  Then some work with the chain tool to get the bike to where it would at least roll to the nearest train station.  There are also some nicks on the large front chainring, but I hope it is still usable.  And also the chain jammed inside the rear cassette, so I needed to cut the chain in several places to get the rear wheel to roll ... and now will remove the cassette to dig out the remainder.

I enjoyed a ride on the 5AM Saikyo Line local train from Sashioji to Akebane, then the Keihin Tohoku local from there to Oimachi (standing room only, at 5:45AM on a Saturday morning!), then Oimachi line local home, arriving a bit before 7AM.

SSS - Next year!

UPDATE (August 2014):  Since the SRAM derailleurs are warranted for 2 years, and were within this period, I sent a note to Wiggle with photos of the trashed front and rear mechs.  They consulted SRAM, which while SRAM did not fess up to this actually being a warranty-covered issue with their gear, they agreed to replace both derailleurs and the chain that I needed to cut as a result of the accident.  Wiggle's and SRAM's customer service -- even for a mail order purchaser from another part of the world -- wins big.   This keeps me a happy customer.

I like the SRAM double tap shifting -- precise, nice and much better brifter ergonomic fit with my hands than the last few Shimano generations (though I think 9000/6800 is a bit better).  And this kind of customer service makes me willing to consider SRAM for the groupset on my next bike, whenever I should happen to be in the market!

1 comment:

TOM said...

real bummer...those wet tissues made of woven cloth are outright dangerous. Fortunately they are only few of these derailleur busters on the road. Better luck next year (wouldn't mind joining)