A Cy­cling Power Be­yond Wattage

Clair­voy­ance and the bike

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CRANKOLOGY - By James “Cranky” Ram­say

I’m psy­chic. It’s true. I can read your minds and I can see into the future, at least on mat­ters con­cern­ing bi­cy­cles. To prove my first as­ser­tion, right now I know that you’re say­ing “No you can’t. That’s non­sense!” But I know that you’re skep­ti­cal about the sec­ond part: my claim that I can pre­dict future events. I un­der­stand your skep­ti­cism. To con­vince you, I have three com­pelling ex­am­ples.

About 10 years ago, I had been in­vited to a train­ing week­end at a cot­tage north of Toronto with a group of friends. We planned to start the trip by rid­ing north from the city. This ride was go­ing to be a long day in the sad­dle, and one of my friends had con­vinced his wife to drive the sup­port ve­hi­cle.

The night be­fore the ride, I packed my bag. Along­side my cy­cling and civil­ian clothes, my badger-hair shav­ing brush, two decks of play­ing cards and a bot­tle of pep­per­mint schnapps, I as­sem­bled the fuel, the tools and equip­ment I would need to cover ev­ery nu­tri­tional or me­chan­i­cal even­tu­al­ity. Laid out on the floor were my full tool box, mul­ti­ple spare tubes, a pair of spare tires, a frame pump, sev­eral CO2 car­tridges and a pile of en­ergy bars. The list went on, right down to a spare set of cleats for my cy­cling shoes.

As I drifted off to sleep that night, I felt con­fi­dent that I was fully pre­pared. I re­call think­ing, “There’s noth­ing that can go wrong that I can’t fix.” And then I had a cu­ri­ous thought: “Un­less one of my ped­als ac­tu­ally snaps right off my bike, I’m cov­ered.” I dis­missed that as ridicu­lous and went to sleep.

The next day, about an hour into the ride, we faced our first steep climb. I was feel­ing great. I stood up on the ped­als and gave a mighty push to main­tain my speed as the road kicked up­ward. There was a sud­den loud crack. My left foot was now swing­ing in the air, no longer an­chored to my bike. Think­ing I had twisted out of my pedal some­how, I moved my foot to clip back in, but noth­ing happened. Then I looked down to see the bare crankarm below me and the pedal spin­dle pok­ing in an em­bar­rassed fashion out from the in­ner edge of my shoe.

This was crazy. In 10 years of rid­ing, this had never happened to me or any­one else I knew. But I had fore­seen this. I was both alarmed and in­trigued. When I told my friends about my pre­dic­tion, it was clear they thought I was nuts. I can’t blame them. I was lucky that one mem­ber of the group is able to fix just about any­thing. He some­how man­aged to re-at­tach the spin­dle to the bear­ing as­sem­bly. It kept com­ing loose, he kept fix­ing it, and I made it all the way to our des­ti­na­tion with­out hav­ing to get in the van.

That’s the first ex­am­ple, but it doesn’t end there. I used to carry one spare in­ner tube on ev­ery ride, un­til I was leav­ing the house one day and thought to my­self, “What if I get two flat tires?” And sure enough, about 65 km away from home, that’s ex­actly what happened. I had to bor­row a spare tubu­lar tire from some­one, mount it loosely on my clincher rim, and ride home at 15 km/h so it wouldn’t roll off.

Just re­cently, I was out rid­ing a lo­cal loop in my neigh­bour­hood when, for some rea­son, I sud­denly re­called the episode of the bro­ken pedal. “What a crazy story,” I thought to my­self. “What are the odds of that hap­pen­ing?” About 10 sec­onds later, I heard a squeak­ing noise com­ing from the left side of my crankset. I stopped and got off the bike to in­ves­ti­gate. I dis­cov­ered that the bear­ing on the left pedal was start­ing to seize up. I jumped back on to head for home, but af­ter a few pedal strokes, the bear­ing had seized fully. The pedal un­threaded it­self from the crankarm. I was left to fin­ish the ride with one leg. I learned that it’s very hard to climb hills on a fixed-gear bike with­out us­ing both legs to do so.

Now, I’m nor­mally a pretty sci­en­tific­minded per­son and don’t put stock in flaky claims of clair­voy­ance. But I’m con­vinced. The only other rea­son­able ex­pla­na­tion I can see is that by think­ing things, I can make them hap­pen. Be­lieve me, I’ve tried that in all sorts of sit­u­a­tions, many of which are not ap­pro­pri­ate to dis­cuss in this col­umn, and it hasn’t worked yet.

So there you have it. I am psy­chic. And of course, I have to tell you: I knew I’d con­vince you in the end.

“Un­less one of my ped­als ac­tu­ally snaps right off my bike, I’m cov­ered.”

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