Field Repair


We’d reached an intersection and the boys were paused. I dismounted to take a look. “Oh, man.” Gary asks if it’s a broken spoke and I say that it’s way worse.

The thunk is familiar from having a loose quick release. My rear wheel doesn’t have a quick release. Instead, two stainless capped bolts secure the axle of the Alfine internal geared hub. The non-drive side bolt is gone, lost on the trail who knows when back. Way worse.

There are grave looks all around, we’re far from a hardware store. Gary grabs some bailing wire, suggesting wrapping the axle to hold it on a little. I look around the bike for a part to cannibalize. Not many bolts on fancy bikes, certainly not that size. We’re trading ideas, Gary is willing to fish out his spare chainring bolt, I’m scanning and waiting. My view about it is that, once the problem is presented and understood, there’s aggressive nonconscious cognition being applied to it. So I wait some more, still looking over the rest of the bike in an undirected way.

My hand finds the brake lever barrel adjuster lock bolt, in retrospect I bet like touching the thumbtack box in the classic candle experiment. It looks too small but I can’t tell. I pull it off the brake cable, it threads quietly onto the axle. Gary offers a tiny pair of pliers. The bolt is feeble and will get loose, but it’s not horrible. Cass says maybe put another one to lock it on. I pull the other one off, twist it on. We ride off. It holds through a hard day and, I’m hoping, for days yet.