Today we went to Portland’s Saturday Market, a regular open-air crafts fair downtown. Ostensibly we were going to pick up a replacement for the second French butter dish we have broken in about three months, but really we just wanted to ride around this beautiful day. The image is a still from a brief video clip of all three of us aboard Xtravois, on our way down Ankeny. The still is linked to the clip if you’re curious. Thanks to Eric, new fellow Xtracyclist, for manning the camera.
As you see, the bike carries my whole human household (and sometimes the dog too), so I try to stay on top of maintenance issues, particularly concerning brakes and wheels. I built the wheels myself, and they’ve been solid, but this is the first bike I’ve owned with disk brakes, and I’ve suffered a few accelerated learning moments. Imagine my horror and relief, for instance, when I replaced the brake cables and housing a month ago, and discovered that the front brake cable had been reduced to a single strand beneath the pinch bolt. Today, as we approached the river via an unfamiliar route, we stopped to get our bearings. And as we started up again, the front wheel wouldn’t roll freely. I heard crunching. A little inspection showed that the disk brake pad spring had deformed somehow and gotten caught in the rotor. I dialed the pads all the way out to free the wheel, and we turned around, walking the bike down the bridge approach slope we had ridden up. I didn’t want to rely on the rear brake alone.
Our new destination was River City bike shop. I bought new pads and installed them, but was humbly impressed to see what less than two years of service had done to the old ones. Tomorrow I’ll replace the rear ones too.
We continued across the river, got the butter dish, ate, strolled around, and rode home. It was still a good day, but I’m feeling a bit stupid to have narrowly escaped two catastrophic front brake failures when a more rigorous maintenance schedule could have warded them off.