Chainrings Ripped My Flesh

Damn but on my rides in to work and back home today, the bike’s rolling tight. With everything battened down it travels like new without making a sound. Small consolation for the pain I endured Sunday getting it to this point.

See first, I re-greased the stem and got rid of the snap-crackly sound that had slowly returned to bug the crap outta me. But even more important, I swapped out the back-up set of 170mm cranks I’d put on last weekend for a set of 160s that were still on the remains of The Phoenix, but not first without the wrench I was using slipping off the right pedal and sending my left hand downward upon the empty chainring where a couple of its teeth gouged out strips of flesh on the back of my middle and ring fingers.

Pretty gross, actually. I’ll spare you the pix I took in the midst of cleaning it out.

The funny thing was that the moment before the wrench gave way I looked at where my hand was positioned above the chainring and wouldn’t you know I was in the middle of thinking that might not be the best position to be in when whoops and the next thing I’m jumping around, holding my profusely bleeding digits and hissing “I knew it!”

So inside I went to the kitchen sink to wash the wounds and dress them and Susan brought the hydrogen peroxide and the band-aids and did her best to straddle the fine line between staying out of my way and helping me, all the while trying not to worry too much or roll her eyes in too big a circle. Thankfully the cuts were mostly superficial. Mostly. So in a few minutes with some makeshift bandagings, I was back outside and on the job.

The really cool thing was when I looked at the chainring and saw the 1 1/2-inch long strip of already-sundrying skin that had been plowed off my middle finger and was left dangling from from the teeth.  It looked a bit like jerky. And there was an ant on it already.

Really gross, actually. Quick bastards. So I plucked it off and pitched it into the trash (greenwaste bin of course) and got the rest of the task completed without further injury.

And speaking of further injury, my efforts — though bloody in the short term — may very well have saved me worse hurts down the road. See, when I put the spare 170mm cranks on  (after the bottom bracket incident last weekend) I only put one chainring on it. Trouble is, it’s a crank designed to carry two chain rings (similar to a 10 speed) and though I tightened the solo ring as much as I could, the gap presented by that second ring meant there was a measure of looseness there — a looseness in the chainring bolts that I noticed had grown markedly worse having  pedaled it to work and back the previous five days.

Had I opted to leave the 170s on there was some risk that the ring could have come off, say, while cruising across Venice Boulevard at 20 mph, or trying to barrel up some hill. And while not a catastrophic failure guaranteeing a fall, it’s decently probable that one could happen.

So in mounting the 160mm cranks (also a two-ringer) I went ahead and put an inner ring on it. Gap? eliminated. Ride? tight.