Mechanical Mayhem.

I was hoping to call this post something like “Serious Training” but the Trek Fuel EX8 mountain bike had other ideas. Each year I set myself a few riding challenges to make sure that I maintain my fitness, though now in my 60s(!) I’m maybe more keen to not let my abilities fade too quickly. One of this year’s targets is to ride 10 laps of the purpose built trails at nearby Healey Nab and to maintain a steady pace, reaching exhaustion as I cross the finish line. This may take 2 hours and involve over 1,800 feet of ascent.

Today I wanted to ride 5 laps in the muddy conditions to get some serious training in. I rode to the hill by a mainly off road route and climbed to the start of lap 1, around a third of the way up the main climb. It was going well enough until I reached the high point. As I began the long downhill I found that the freehub wasn’t immediately engaging when I stamped on the pedals. By the end of lap 1 I knew that i couldn’t carry on. I took the rear wheel out but realised that a trailside repair was impossible.

Perhaps it was just an accumulation of dirt in the free wheel mechanism but I thought it more likely that I was suffering from a problem which I’ve encountered before. Inside the freehub is a wire like spring which can break into pieces. This spring holds little hooks called pawls against teeth in the hub which transmits the power from the pedals but also allows you to free wheel.

I rode down the hill to find that I couldn’t pedal at all. After a short walk I managed to engage drive and kept the pedals turning continuously, using the brakes to regulate speed at times, and almost reached home. An unfortunate momentary free wheel had me pushing again for the final few hundred yards.

I opened the freehub back at home to find the pawl spring in several pieces, which is an easy enough fix. I was disappointed not to get a good training session in but will try to make amends on Sunday on a different bike.

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