Fortunately, she was fine - but her bike was not. Her front wheel had come loose, likely because of the nut that should have been there, holding on one side of the quick-release system that keeps the wheel on the forks.
"Oh, this isn't good..."
We scoured the area for the missing piece to no avail.
We had two options:
- Walk for ~13 km (8 miles) to the closest transition area and drop out of the race, or
- Find a way to fix the bike.
I ride an old-school bike. Some people shake their heads at that ("What?!?! No suspension?!!? Side-pull caliper brakes?!?! You're CRAZY!!!), but it works for me. Nearly everything is held on with nuts and those nuts come in only two sizes. I can fix almost everything on my bike with a small, adjustable wrench. If I lose a nut, I can poach one from elsewhere on the bike (ex. take the nut that controls the height of my seat and use it to replace a missing nut from a wheel). That's not the case with these new-fangled bikes; there was absolutely nothing on any other part of the bike that would properly fit onto the tiny rod of metal that held the tire onto the forks.
Without parts poaching as an option, it was time to get creative. I took an inventory of the equipment we had on-hand. For the most part, the bike-repair tools were useless - but I had my adjustable wrench. Maybe I could use that for something...
Oh, and I have some duct tape! Argh! but I don't have enough for it to be very useful (more on that in another entry). No wire, no string, no rope, no twine. Do I have anything else that...
Aha! Surgical tape! It's a lucky thing that surgical tape was on the mandatory list of race equipment. Sure, it's for the First-Aid kit but that's exactly what we're doing, right? First-Aid on the bike!
Things were coming together...
Things were coming together and, with a little extra reinforcement from some velcro straps, the repair was complete.
I was worried about subjecting my teammate to my kludge, so we traded bikes for a bit. From time-to-time, I stopped to inspect the repair. Things hadn't budged. We swapped bikes again, stopping here-and-there to check on things. The repair still hadn't budged. So we raced for the finish (taking some modicum of care to avoid roots and rocks and other obstacles).
Racing for the finish!
It held the entire way.
Stay tuned for more Yukon Adventure Challenge adventures!