A smooth, silent bike is a wonder to behold. When every component is working in harmony the bike is a stunning product of expert engineering to be enjoyed and celebrated.
Yet sometimes - something like this happens...
It all goes wrong, something stops working and you're left with a clunking, spluttering, lump of carbon/aluminum/steel that causes you nothing but frustration.
There's often a last ditch attempt to fix your unhappy bicycle there and then - but more often than not you'll end up rolling away from the group ride in need of some tools and a YouTube video, or the help of a trained mechanic.
Here's the chain of events that often leads to extreme bike frustration....
You're rolling along comfortably, happily, and then suddenly you notice a 'clunk' that you weren't expecting...
Unfortunately, you can't take the same course of action you would with your car. The noise continues - often getting louder or more persistent as the miles tick by.
At first, it seems like the best idea is to pretend you can't hear it.
Maybe there's just a twig stuck in a spoke or something. Or perhaps it's not your bike making that constant clacking noise, and it's actually someone else's problem... Someone who is riding in close proximity to you at all times.
Other people start to notice the noise... suddenly everyone is a mechanic
They've all got a diagnosis. Bottom brackets, rubbing chains, bent derailliuers and loose cassettes or headsets are all suggested causes.
You say 'it's ok, I'll soldier on'
You realise everyone around you is getting quite annoyed by the tickety-tick coming from your machine, and your inability to change gear without all of the swearing is probably getting a bit tiresome too. But whatevs. You've been looking forward to this ride all week (apparently not enough to maintain your bike in advance), you're not going home.
You're going to have to stop to check it...
This is unbearable. You might as well try to fix it. Obviously everyone present wants to be the hero who succeeds in solving the problem.
There's a hopeful moment when you think you're going to be able to fix it
Ah - it's nothing major - your headset just needs adjusting, or you've left your quick release too loose (oops!)
Except nope - that didn't work. Someone suggests some sort of bodge to get you home...
It usually involves duct tape, zip ties or elastic bands. You hang your head and realise you're going to roll to your nearest bike shop.
By this point you're starting to feel a little bit embarrassed about your poorly maintained steed.
You get to the bike shop, and explain that you had a go at fixing it, but...
You realise you've probably done more harm than good, and that the bill has doubled with every failed attempt made so far.
You part with basically all the cash in your bank account
Well, you're going to need a new chain, cassette, derailliuer - and that rear wheel could do with being replaced. Oh, and all of the bearings.
You leave the shop on your bike, hours later, much poorer
But man, it feels epic. The silky smooth transition is the epitome of silent excellence.
You promise yourself you will look after your bike much better in future
You'll follow that Total Women's Cycling guide to cleaning your bike, and repeat the process every single week, carrying out basic checks as you go to ensure you spot potential problems.
Looking after your bike and giving it an MOT every couple of weeks will help prevent avoidable mid-ride-mechanicals.
Check out these posts to get you started...