Had a bit of a quirk going home last night. As I stood on the pedals to power over a little bump and hill, I heard a crack down near the bottom bracket. I kept pedaling, and everything seemed to be OK. I glanced down, and the chain was still taught, no loose feeling in the bottom bracket… figured I’d look at it when I got home. Then I started noticing a grinding sound every second pedal stroke. I figured it was something with the chain, but I was still 18 miles from home, so I figured if I rode sitting down, there would be no undue strain on the chain, and whatever it was would work until I got home. The noise was nerve-racking. I found myself counting how many times I heard it… I would reach the mid 500’s and start again. I rode over the hills to home sitting in the saddle. I was a little slower than usual, but it was on purpose.
Once I got home, I looked at the bike to see what was wrong so I could fix it. At first I couldn’t find anything. Then I turned the bike upside down and turned the pedals. There was something with the chain. It looked a little out of whack on one link. I looked closely, and at first thought I had lost half the master link. Then I realized I had broken a link. One of the sides had disappeared, and it was being held together by the two rivets and the other side plate.
One more good reason for riding a fixed gear bike… since the chain line is straight, there is no lateral pull on the chain, so even missing a plate, the chain was able to stay attached. I rode it like that for 18 miles. Also, the constant pedaling meant there was no slack in the chain (not that there is much anyway), so the chain held together. Obviously I need a new chain, but I think this time, I will change it sooner than the 8000+ miles I had on this one.