Lament for Lapierre: Fondon’t report part 1

28 08 2016

Abandonné. Abbandonato. Abandonado. Abandoned.

No matter which language you say it in, the result for any cyclist is the same: misery, heartbreak and humility.

Today, it was my fate; 118 kms into the third iteration of the FR Fuggitivi’s annual Fondon’t, I got off the Lapierre and called for a ride.

The Fuggitivi looking pro, and optimistic, at the start of Sunday's third annual Fondon't.

The Fuggitivi looking pro, and optimistic, at the start of Sunday’s third annual Fondon’t.

It’s not that my legs weren’t willing. But my spirit was broken. So was a rear spoke. And that snapped spoke may have dealt a catastrophic blow to my beloved French mistress.

The rear wheel’s issues date back a couple of weeks when I noticed a curious pinging noise the day before the Cypress Challenge. A spoke was loose and the wheel a little out of true.

A few turns with a spoke wrench got me on my way, and a visit to the mobile repair guys at VeloFix prior to the Challenge seemed to correct the problem.

Today, early into our official season-ending ride, the ping returned. Again, a few turns with a spoke wrench seemed to straighten things out. But I was nervous.

I’m not a heavyweight, so I’ve never had issues with spokes before; but two wobbles in two weeks seemed a little odd, a portent of something serious?

I listened carefully for further problems. As I rode, I checked the back wheel incessantly. I dialled back my descents.

But it was on a descent, at about 72 kph, the problematic spoke finally snapped. I stopped as quickly as I could fearing a total collapse of my rear wheel. The twisted spoke clung at odd angles to the nipple, its wild flailing having inflicted a major divot into the top of a stay.

The damage to the Lapierre's carbon stay from a flailing broken spoke that snapped on a 72 kph descent.

The damage to the Lapierre’s carbon stay from a flailing broken spoke that snapped on a 72 kph descent.

Carbon fibre doesn’t take kindly to cracks and heavy blows. Any deviation in the layers of fibre and resin weakens the whole structure. Repairing broken carbon fibre is complicated and costly. There is a local shop that’s done some renowned work, and Lapierre will be paying it a visit for a thorough assessment.

With the offending spoke removed, I limped slowly, and somewhat wobblingly to a bike shop along our return route. As if the cycling gods were having a lark, it started to rain.

The shop fixed the wheel, the wrench said the damage to the stay looked worse than it likely was. But deep down I fear the worst. I called for a pick-up, my heart heavy.

Lapierre is bowed. Let’s hope she’s not broken.

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