I just turned 33 this month, and I happened to have my birthday off of work. So I was trying to determine the proper endurance sport birthday celebration. I finally settled on an idea that seemed to fit with my athletic identity: I’d climb 100 feet for every year of my life, or 3,300 feet, on my mountain bike.
The morning of the ride dawned, and I loaded up the back of my jersey with stuff. I took off on a gorgeous morning and rode the local hill—750 feet of elevation behind me. Then I took the paved descent to the bottom of the steep side of the hill and began climb number two.
That’s when the oddest thing happened: My chain, instead of transferring power from my pedals to the rear hub, was suddenly bouncing off my chainstays and my seatpost. I’d somehow snapped a chain.
Fortunately, I was a mere 2.5 miles from home at this point. No big deal. So I started to walk/coast my way home. It didn’t take long before that grew tedious, so I switched to a skateboard-like thrust followed by a brief coast. Bikes, it occurred to me, are much cooler than skateboards. “Why?” you ask? Because when you coast on a bike, you can actually sit down. I s’pose you can do that on a skateboard too, but it makes it pretty difficult to push off again.
I knew that at home I had a bunch of KMC Missing Links, but I also knew that a bike shop manager had, at one time, told me they’d be incompatible with the chain. The more I thought about it, the more I found myself wondering if he was just telling me that because he wanted me to buy more stuff. After all, I thought, I’d bought those links specifically because they matched the chain size.
When I got home, I pulled one out, grabbed my chain from my pocket, threaded it through the chain line and—snap—put the darn thing back together. Shock and amazement: the link fit perfectly. Still does, in fact. Well, I’ll be darned: the bike shop owner was pulling my chain … rhetorically speaking.
Yes, I paused for a moment to eat some chocolate birthday cake before I left again for my ride.
Back at the hill, I quickly remembered how much I LOVE climbing on a mountain bike. There’s something about weaving your way up a steep gradient that just tickles my fancy. I love it, particularly when it goes on and on and on.
So that’s pretty much how the rest of my birthday ride went: up and up and up. Then I went home and spent the balance of time with my daughters, as it should be.