Question: I was 10 miles from home when my cassette stopped working — the cogsspun freely without powering the bike. I had to hitch a ride. Is there a fix that would have let me continue riding? — Blake N.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Even the best equipment goes south occasionally, so it pays to know how to improvise solutions.
PAC Tour’s Lon Haldeman contends that you can find materials along 400 yards of any road in America to fix a bike sufficiently to get home. He calls this approach “the organic mechanic.”
I remembered Lon’s wisdom when my cassette failed last year. Sure enough, 50 yards away was a piece of baling wire in the grass. I threaded the wire through the holes in the largest cassette cog and wrapped it securely around the spokes, taking care that the ends didn’t protrude.
This converted the bike into a fixed gear and allowed me to pedal home. I had to ride gingerly so the wire wouldn’t ruin the spokes, but it was better than sticking out my thumb.