51.40 miles (Total: 2156.84) Avg Speed: 9.2mph Max Speed: 15.5mph
I woke, ate, packed, then went immediatley across to the auto repair store in town with my spare spokes. I walk up to an old guy and explain the situation and what I need doing to my spokes. A bizarre request maybe but he just takes the spokes and leads me to his workshop outback. He gives me a pen an I draw a simple illustration of what I want. At this point he has barely spoken a word to me and just whistles to himself. He knocks the head off then takes a blow torch to loosen the metal before bending it perfectly and dunking it in cold water for the temper. It looks amazing, I take it back to my wheel and we thread it through the back-end without taking off the cassette. It would have worked perfect except it barely screws in at the other end, just a little too short. I go back and have the spokes blow torched and twisted again, we can only manage one bend to have the necessary length. I thank him, but he simply goes back to laying underneath a truck with his tool box.
The spokes hook on and screw in, we check to see if the wheel spins straight and its pretty good! After finally heading out we only make it a couple of miles and I hear one of them has came out, the other is still in. Its a shame they weren’t quite long enough with the original S-bend because I’m pretty sure I could have went to Oregon on them. The other just about stays in and we make it Eads. I’m riding very slowly and cautiously so were not making good mileage. We find two dutch women biking the TransAm then a guy from Virginia, alas none of them have the tools to fix a driveside spoke either, nobody does.
We head out of town only another few miles and come across Tom. He was born in Iowa, where he is cycling too but lives in Hawaii and is a cycling accessory vending machine. Every gizmo, gadget and spare you could think of. We attempt to remove my cassette with his special lockring tool, but the thing is on so tight it basically just breaks it. Then two fellow englishmen turn up heading east, they ask how we are but are reluctant to head over and join the roadside workshop. Eventually one of them comes over, they don’t have a chainwhip but have another lockring. So we try again, 6 guys at this point with wrenches, lockrings & rags everywhere, nobody can get the thing off. “Somebodies bloody swung on that thing is what they’ve done” said the other guy still stood across on his bike in a cornish accent.
I end up buying two fiber fix spokes from Tom, essentially a piece of string that hooks round and screws in to add tension and stability to the wheel. The English guys look on sheepishly and tell me I should head back to Eads and try fix it. Eads population, 12. Where am I going to take it, the invisible bike shop? I didn’t respond in this way but they are very different riders from us. They ride in matching monogram jerseys, they don’t have a single story to tell becuase they are too busy concentraing completing each map panel and all they did was moan about the wind in Wyoming. They would go back to Eads, not me, I need to get to the bike shop in Pueblo tomorrow so will push on towards Haswell tonight.
I’m not sure how much of it was pshycological, but having what felt like a full set of spokes on the back wheel gave me confidence and we made it to Haswell. Ordway was the original destination but this is what we were dealt, a basic city park without an open store in sight. We setup tent and ate the last few scraps of tuna and bread we were carrying, breakfast could be had in the morning when the store opens. Its 90 more miles to Pueblo, I think I can make it. I figure its a reasonable size city with most of the traffic from now on heading that way so if something does go wrong I will just have to stick my bike in somebodies pick-up and hitch in. To end the night I spot a jagged outline on the horizon, I tell the others. It was out first glimpse of the Rocky Mountains and it got us all ready for some exciting dreams in bed.