This past weekend we made a quick trip up to South Carolina to help a dear friend sort through some bicycle “stuff” that, well, let’s just say needed to be sorted-through.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, if you tandem cycle you’d better make sure you and yours have your affairs in order. You simply don’t know when, where or how God might decide that your partnership will end one chapter in the “Book of Life” and begin a new one. When that happens, there’s a lot of “stuff” that will need to be sorted out, from how you go forward with your relationship with the “tandem community” to what place cycling will take in your life and what to do with tandem bicycles and equipment that were accumulated during your years spent “on the bike” together. But, I digress….
We made a quick 2.5 hour trip to South Carolina from our home on the northwest side of Atlanta, Georgia Saturday morning and found ourselves in a little piece of heaven that two long-time tandem cycling friends built up from a one-room cabin into a lovely home buried in the woods of western South Carolina. Our primary goal in making the trip was, in addition to visiting with our friends, to go through 20+ years of bicycle and tandem “accumulations” of parts and accessories to ensure things still needed to support current bikes and tandems were separated from the “parts bin stuff” that most home mechanics and bicycle geeks tend to collect, as it’s always hard to throw anything away that might be needed at some point in the future.
We knocked that out in a few hours and after that headed off for what was to be a 30-40 mile tandem ride through the rolling hills and valleys in western South Carolina. As regular readers already know, I’ve acquired a coupe GoPro cameras so it’s the norm for me to fire those bad-boys up when there’s an opportunity to grab some potentially “interesting” video images to be had. Such was the case for this outing, where we’d be riding our tandem along side “Big Yellow,” a Co-Motion triplet with our friends Eric, Linda and Lisa aboard.
Regular readers of both our blogs may also recall I’ve been having some issues with getting our WiFi remote sync’d up with the WiFi backpacks and both cameras. Well, for Saturday’s ride, I thnk I had the WiFi issues resolved, but failed to recognize one of the SD card’s memory hadn’t been cleared of the video files I created on our previous motorcycle rides.
So, as we started out, the problems I was having with getting only one of the two cameras to record had more to do with an SD card being full than it did with the WiFi remote. Therefore, what you’ll see in the video short from this ride is just a single camera perspective from two mounting locations (down on the bar-ends) vs. four different views as originally intended, where the “premier video images” that would have come from the helmet-mounted cameras never had a chance.
Ignoring the camera issues for minute, there was also another “minor” issue that impacted our planned ride: about 7 miles into the ride our MSRP SRAM XO rear derailleur’s rear chain tensioning spring let-go inside of the rear derailleur housing on a fairly good climb. It took me a minute to figure out why our shifting had gone to s**t and the chain was “stripping” over the chain rings and cassette. However, once we came to a dead stop, I dismounted and inspected the transmission the problem was obvious: our drive chain was drooping several inches with zero tension on the rear cage assembly.
A quick visual inspection didn’t provide any real smoking gun; the spring had obviously “sprung loose” inside the rear derailleur. So, I ran the B-Screw in all the way to move the derailleur body and cage as rearward as I could and we had to finish the ride with a slack-chain system that demanded constant chain tension and a smooth pedal stroke to keep the chain seated on the cassette and chain rings. It wasn’t quite a fixed gear, but it was close. Both the front and rear derailleurs could be shifted, but it took a lot of finesse: if Debbie wasn’t smooth with her pedal stroke or the chain didn’t shift cleanly and engage the next ring or cog all Hell and the chain broke loose. I think we ended up with a thrown chain about 4 times all told on the ride.
It was still a great ride… really. The terrain out in western South Carolina is great and I’m sorry that our drive train decided to crap out as we would have enjoyed a much longer ride. However, probably best that we only pushed our luck as much as we did.
Once we were back at the house I put the Calfee in a work stand and pulled the rear deraillueur off the bike. The SRAM XO uses a retention clip to hold the rear hanger shaft in place — in other words, it’s a precision fit not a screw tension affair — in combination with a small threaded stop that keeps the cage assembly from over-rotating. Since everything was still where it should be, it meant the spring inside the rear derailleur decided to come un-pinned. The latter is apparently a common occurrence based on a quick Google search, nor is there an explanation for why it happens. We probably have about less than 3,000 miles on this rear derailleur so it’s not like it’s led a hard life. Moreover, it was rather easy to get the spring re-seated once the rear derailleur was off the bike. However, what wasn’t easy was figuring out why the spring popped. SRAMs site is of little help, as the lack of a direct link to Technical Support. “Contact your local dealer” is the default, so we’ll see. Since I’ve fixed the darn thing — at least for now — it’s hard to demonstrate that the sucker let-go, other than my video. So, we’ll see how this all washes out. Perhaps it’s just time for a transmission upgrade: Campy 11 anyone?
Anyway, here’s the 30 second video from the ride. Again, 1/2 of the footage that I’d normally include from the second camera that was on my helmet facing forward and backwards failed to be recorded so my apologies for the two ‘abstract’ views; they were intended to “add interest” not be the center of attention / focus for this video.