The Saga of a Broken Bike

“It’s great to see you, but I thought you weren’t in town these days Skander?”

It’s a common question as I’ve been in Portland for quite a bit longer than I expected when I originally sketched out the idea of being unemployed. For lack of any better adventures to tell about, and because I think I know how the story ends, I’ll add the “Saga of a Broken Bike” to the entries of this blog.

I flew back to Portland from Alaska on Monday August 1st, and immediately started searching for a touring bicycle. I had just sold both my extracycle and my road bike, so I had some cash to spend and wanted to find “the right bike” for what I planned to be a grand tour. That same day I rode a used Trek 520 and a brand new Surly Long Haul Trucker that were both in Portland. On Tuesday I drove to Seattle and rode a used TiCycles cyclocross bike, and drove to Anacortes to ride a used Fuji Touring bike. I bought the Fuji because it was a stellar deal and came with a set of good panniers, and a bunch of other extras. I took the Fuji on a quick tour, and came home Wednesday. The Trek still wasn’t out of my head, so I rode it again, and it still felt the best of the four bikes. I bought it, and put the Fuji on Craigslist.

The Fuji in Roche Harbor, while I was figuring out this bike was really too small for me.

After a few weeks of sweating, the Fuji finally sold, and I got the Trek dialed in and ready for a tour. Life was good. On August 28th, I left the Trek at a shop to get a new bottom bracket- a significant, but not worrisome repair. The shop called me back on September 1st to say that in the process of replacing the bottom bracket, they had found a crack in the frame. I got the frame shuttled up to one of the few people in Portland willing to try and weld it back together for me, but the prognosis was ugly. I was in Alabama at the time, and suddenly realized I wasn’t taking this bike to South America as soon as I got back. The opportunity to drive back from the east coast came up, so I took it because I knew I’d have some time on my hands.

Yup, cracked properly.

While on the drive, I contacted the original owner of the Trek, who immediately went to bat for me, and has continued to be most helpful in resolving the situation. He took the frame back to the Bike Gallery, and Trek agreed to replace the frame under warranty (to him, not me). Good news as I was driving across Wyoming, unfortunately with no information on how long the replacement would take, I got in touch with a contact in Bogota, and confirmed that I could buy a new bike there. I liked the idea of getting on my tour upon returning to Portland, and the thought that I could sell the newly warranteed frame on eBay for approximately the cost of a new bike in Colombia. While the idea of purchasing a bike in a foreign country with almost no spanish skills seemed daunting, it was decidedly better than waiting indefinitely in Portland.

Driving past the impeccable off-width climbing in Vedauwoo, WY wondering if I would ever actually get to bike tour.

I got back to Portland last Friday, September 9 and arrived to the question “they don’t make the same frame for that bike any more, you’ve got to go sit on the new frames and pick a size.” So my warranty had not started and one more step in the process. Bummer, but nothing else to do. Saturday I picked the new frame size, and hoped that Trek would get their butts moving. Monday, nothing- I packed gear, and planned to drive to San Jose on Wednesday (today), thinking I would have a friend pick up the new frame and store it, so I could get on with my life. Tuesday, just as I found someone on Craigslist that needed a ride to San Jose, I get word that new Trek frames won’t be available until November, but that Bike Gallery would strip the frame that I had sat on and rebuild the bike with my old components. Suddenly, for the first time in 3 weeks, it looked like I might have a functional bike on a predictable timetable. I realized it was awfully irresponsible to pawn of bike bitch-work on my friends, and after this much trouble, there was no way this Trek isn’t going to South America with me. So today I’m waiting, studying Spanish, toying with an alcohol stove, and hoping that I might have a bike on Friday and can drive to California on Saturday…

Killing time in Portland at the Widmer Oktoberfest really isn't so bad...

Good thing I didn’t buy a plane ticket yet. Thanks for following, and watch this space for more news!

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