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  1. #1
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    We broke our bike

    Warning - Long Winded Story

    My wife and I recently completed a race called the Gunnison Growler, actually we only did the ˝ Growler (and yes, you get a beer Growler – empty though). I would rank the terrain is more difficult that most all of the other MTB races that we have completed. A fair bit of climbing (4500 ft over 32 miles), but no climbs longer than 300 ft or so, this made for lots of punchy climbs, making it less ideal for tandem. The reason that I am posting is because we broke our bike. Actually just the chain stay, but it cracked all the way through when we were about 3 mile to the finish (photos below).

    Luckily, we were not on a technical section of the course when it broke, although it had to have fractured somewhere prior to the actual break. We were just about to enter the Rattlesnake single track when we saw a friend of ours (who was offering neutral support at that point in the course). Just as we said “hi” to our friend, we heard a noise and the rear wheel began rubbing against the frame. It took some time before we were able to diagnose the problem because I had a Lizzardskin on the chainstay, so the break was not visible. Once the break was detected, we had to overcome an extreme sense of anger and disappointment. We were riding well and were stoked to be the first tandem to race the Growler and were looking at a respectable finishing time. Despite the mechanical, there was no way we weren’t going to finish, even if we had to hike the last 3 miles. Fortunately, our friend Ben put his engineering mind to work and fashioned a splint out of a Park rotor truing tool and zip-tied it across the break (see pics). I was skeptical, but it held if we rode gently. Bevin knocked her pedal against the splint with every revolution and the tire rubbed constantly against the frame. The field repair got us to the finish, but we walked most of the obstacles on Rattlesnake and Notch. We were riding very well up until this point, so it was demoralizing watching riders pass us as we were walking sections of the trail that we were capable of riding. One photographer even snapped a picture of me on the bike without Bevin descending down a rocky section of Notch. She begged him to delete that photo, but of course it already made it to Facebook.

    Race director and MTB Hall of Fame racer Dave Wiens appeared visibly concerned when we arrived at the start of his race on a tandem. I realize that tandems can be frowned upon if we are not capable or if we hold up other racers on single track. Even when we had dozens of off and on the broken bike, we were quick to get out of the way of the other racers. I think that we earned the respect out there and did not hinder the race in any way. We even got called out at the awards ceremony (no awards, just some props for racing a tandem and finishing on a broken frame). Apparently we were the first tandem in the 9 years of the Gunnison Growler. I am certain there will not be a tandem category in the future...

    A lot of people have already been asking me about the bike. Good news is that there are some awesome people in the tandem bike industry. Particularly, Alex with MTB Tandems | Website and Teresa and Sherwood at Ventana USA | Custom-American Made Mountain Bikes. Our bike broke on Saturday of the Memorial Day weekend, so we were not able to contact them until Tuesday. By Wednesday, they had a swing arm in transit to me. I will have the new swing arm less than a week from when I contacted my dealer and the manufacturer. I really need to say how awesome it is to do business with good people that stand behind their product. I don’t think we have enough GREAT customer service, so when you get it, you really appreciate it. I am, and will continue to be, a repeat customer!

    I’ve attached a few photos of the bike and us at the race.

    High fives on the short pavement section
    We broke our bike-growler-high-five.jpg

    Here's a view of the MacGyver fix to the chain stay
    We broke our bike-growler-splint3-original-format.jpg

    Yeah, it wasn't pretty - #Parktools
    We broke our bike-growler-splint-original-format.jpg

    A view from the inside of the chain stay. A lot of daylight there!
    We broke our bike-growler-splint-backside.jpg

    Race photos of BOTH of us are hard to come by (my wife is a ROCK STAR!)
    We broke our bike-growler-bike.jpg

    Although there was no tandem category, we got called up for some recognition during the podiums
    We broke our bike-growler-tandem-shoutout.jpg

    This is the more typical race photo of a tandem (my wife gets the short straw)
    We broke our bike-growler-action-shot.jpg

    This is the photo that my wife begged the photographer to delete as she is walking behind me due to our chain stay situation. Bummer is that we would have been riding that section if the bike were normal
    We broke our bike-growler-dan-only.jpg

    Oh yeah, I dumped us on the course. My wife got a good scrape on her knee...But she forgave me after Dave Wien's wife Susan DeMattie (also MTB Hall of Fame and Olympic medalist!) patched her up!
    We broke our bike-growler-bike-bevin.jpg

    EDIT - Just like that, one week later, we have our new swing arm!! Amazing customer service from Ventana USA | Custom-American Made Mountain Bikes and MTB Tandems | Website I can't say enough about how awesome these guys are!!

    Here it is!!!
    We broke our bike-new-swing-arm.jpg
    #gunnisongrowler #originalgrowler #mtbtandem #feedbacksports #madeinusa
    Last edited by ds2199; 06-07-2016 at 07:11 AM.

  2. #2
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    That is so incredibly awesome in so many ways. I mean, yeah, broken stay sucks at the best of times, and particularly so that far into a race. But in the end, you guys clearly have something that no broken part can take away and I'm not seeing any lack of smiles anywhere! Attitude is everything, and clearly you guys have it in spades!

  3. #3
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    Love the story and pics! Nice job. Wife and I are considering doing this as well. Keep at it! If you're not occasionally breaking stuff you aren't pushing the limits enough!

  4. #4
    PMK
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    Alex and Sherwood / Teresa plus the way these bikes perform and take the abuse, all 110%

    Good run, bummer it broke, no injuries is cool. Smile and enjoy it.
    Reps! We don't need no stickin' reps!

  5. #5
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    great fix, you rock!

  6. #6
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    Great story and thanks for the write up.

    I/we broke a KHS swing arm but, so far, our ECDM is holding up. (Better than its team....)


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    --Reamer

  7. #7
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    Nice story, I have to respect the decision to finish. I think a lot of that mentality is lost on some people, finish what you start. It seems others there also appreciated and recognized seeing you compete and finish. Finally, behind every good man there is a better woman, even if she doesn't get photographed. thumbs up!
    I don't know why,... it's just MUSS easier to pedal than the other ones.

  8. #8
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    So glad you are back up and going, sucks it happened. Always love the adventures you two have!

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