Today my bike broke. About 20 miles into my ride and 10 miles outside of Portland, I heard a sudden cracking which I believed came from my chain. So I pulled over to put my chain back in. It took about five minutes before I started cussing myself for not learning how to properly fix a chain. Gosh, why do I have to be born right-handed, with two left hands. It took me another five minutes to realize that it wasn't just my chain causing me problems, but rather my entire back derailleur, which broke off my bike. Start walking Mario.
About ten minutes down the road, I truly hated myself for not bringing my cell phone. Having my iPod on me really didn't help me much in this situation.
Lesson # 1 - Bring a cell phone.
Fortunately, I ran across a bus station. Even though, I had forgotten to bring any money, I was confident that I could talk the bus drivers into letting me come along.
Lesson # 2 - Bring some money.
I didn't even look at the bus schedule, as I wasn't carrying a watch anyways.
Lesson #3 - Bring a watch. Or use the one on your cell phone.
After waiting at the station for about 30 minutes, I did look at the schedule. Great. No service on Sundays.
Lesson #4 - Look at the darn schedule before you wait for a bus.
I started walking again. What the heck. Only 9 3/4 miles left. Soon thereafter, another cyclist stopped to offer me his cell phone. This would have been a great to time to call a friend to pick me up. The only problem was that I didn't remember a single person's phone number here in Portland.
Lesson #5 - Have a girlfriend who can pick you up when needed. And remember her phone number.
About 3/4 miles into my trip, a cycling couple pulled over to ask if they could help. I told them that my problem was pretty much unfixable and that I'd just have to walk back to Portland. Surprisingly enough, they didn't believe me. Their names were Joe and Lisa, and Joe was apparently a bike mechanic.
Lesson #6 - Never give up hope.
Joe's plan was to completely rebuild my chain, take off all derailleurs and turn my bike into a single speed to get me back to Portland. About an hour into Joe's work and Lisa's and mine conversation a car stopped by. The driver's name was Ryan and he offered to drive me back to Portland. I felt bad for Joe, since I thought he'd be disappointed to not be able to finish the job. I was wrong. Both Joe and Lisa waved happily, as Ryan and I drove off towards the sunset.
Despite the fact that I now owe half of the Portland bike community a dinner, I walked away meeting some nice people who I am sure will play roles in my life down the road. Now let's just hope that REI will stay true to their customer satisfaction guarantee and fix my bike.
Lesson #7 - Every bad experience comes with a good opportunity