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When a bike dies

I bought my Fuji CCR3 in June 2008. Sunday, it died.

I was about to head out on an ALC training ride, and I noticed that my rear tire had gone soft overnight. I unfastened the rear hub and started to remove the wheel. As I did so, I heard a ping! noise and saw something drop to the floor. I thought I had simply unscrewed the hub too much and sent a piece of it flying.

But when I picked up the piece, I quickly realized something was wrong. Very wrong.

There was metal fatigue on this piece. And on the surrounding frame, a piece of the frame was broken away around the screws. In short, one side of the apparatus that held my rear wheel in place had simply disintegrated.

That's the scary part. I discovered this at home. I was about to ride 45 miles, just as I had done the previous day. What if this failure had happened while I was in motion? I suppose I wouldn't have gone down immediately, but the potential for a serious injury certainly seems all too real. I'm trying to not think too hard about this, because it seems more than a little bit sobering.

Why didn't a bike shop catch this? Perhaps the failure developed quickly. And the area where the failure occurred isn't necessarily one that gets regularly inspected -- I'd previously not seen or heard of a failure of this type. So I don't think I can hold any shop particularly culpable; this is just the type of thing that happens, albeit quite rarely.

Warranty replacement? The Fuji warranty says that depreciation is taken into account. So, after riding 22,093 miles on this bike, it's doubtful I'd get any meaningful payback. Moreover, the shop where I bought the bike is no longer an authorized Fuji dealer, so I'd have to deal with a different shop, and it's just not worth the trouble.

Because I'm me, I couldn't go long without a bike. So within five hours, I had purchased and was already riding my new wheels, a 2012 Specialized Roubaix Elite C2 (just like this one, same color). The ride is smooth like butter, but it's got a compact double instead of the triple that I've used since 2004.

This in particular is going to require lots of readjustment on my part, as I discovered on a 46-mile shakedown cruise yesterday. But the highlight of the day was climbing Highway 84 between 280 and Whiskey Hill. Another cyclist had stopped behind me at the signal at 280, and he was one of those types who, just by looking at him, takes his cycling seriously (unlike me, of course). I took off and quickly found that I was maintaining 12-13 mph all the way up this not-too-bad hill. I already knew that I'd easily be setting a personal-best time for that part of the climb, but I kept waiting for Mr. Elite to pass me. He didn't.

We reach the top at Whiskey Hill and begin coasting to the four-way stop at CaƱada. He says, "That was quite a pace you had there; made it look easy." Well! According to Strava, that particular effort on my part ranks 204th out of 671 among all riders, 51st out of 160 in my age group (hush, you), and 37th out of 102 in my weight class (again, hush). It's not every day that I turn in a score like that! Perhaps the bike helped a bit.

We'll see how this new journey goes. Here's hoping it's longer than 22,093 miles.