Posted by: Mark Wollemann: On the move | June 1, 2016

Nobody said this would be easy

That’s the kind of headline you’d expect to read after the first week or so of this cross-country ride. But it works for the prelude, too. (By the way, we’ve built a website to document the ride. You can see it here.)

Less than two weeks ago, I suffered a mechanical failure when the left-side pedal (crank) mysteriously separated from the bike (though remained fastened to my foot, thanks to the toe clips).

busted crank

The remnants of a well-traveled crankset. New one was awesome — and expensive.

That threw me for a loop. After a little finagling for a ride (see photo — thanks, Amidei!!), I was driven to a bike shop 25 miles from home (but, luckily, just a few miles from the breakdown and just around the corner from Amidei’s house).


If you’re in Lake Forest, Ill., please visit this guy. He’s a saint with a green thumb.

The fellas at the Trek shop were great. The original crank set was shot. I opted to “trade up” with a new crank at considerable expense. This came about 3-4 weeks after I replaced the rear wheel, which had suffered a fatal crack. That happened a couple of months before a complete tuneup, where I replaced the chain and had the bike in tip-top condition. Or so I thought. (This is kind of a reverse chronology. Sorry if it’s confusing.)

Anyway, back to today. A few rides after I got the new crankset, I noticed a “clicking” sound on the downstroke whenever I was peddling hard. It was more annoying than anything, but it seemed like something I should get “checked out” before we headed out to Oregon. Since we’re leaving Tuesday (June 7) to drive to San Francisco (for a film festival) and then up to Oregon on June 12/13, it seemed like NOW would be a good time to get it checked out.

Welllllll … let’s just say it’s a good thing I stopped by my friends at Trek Highland Park. They’re not Felt (my bike brand) dealers, but I figured they were good to me before so I would stop back in and see if they could troubleshoot for me. Turns out, that “clicking” sound was easy to diagnose. Broken frame. Total loss. Panic. Fear. Loathing. And a few moments of relief that I didn’t “learn” of the broken frame while racing downhill in the Cascades or something. Yikes.

broken frame

It’s hard to see, but the frame broke right at the weld, just above that copper-colored thing-a-ma-bob here. Remarkably, it didn’t come apart during the past few outings, including Sunday’s 50-mile ride in Northern Wisconsin. Could have been ugly.

Where does that leave me? Well, bike-less for today. And tomorrow. But my Trek friends located a great Felt dealer, so I raced downtown and brought the bike in to Mox Multisport. Troy took a quick look and helped me sort through the options. He said as long as I had the original receipt, it’s possible Felt will come through with a new frame. Great bike manufacturers, both Troy and the fellas at the Trek dealership said, usually warranty for structural failures such as the one I experienced.

The receipt, though. That could be tricky. It had been a while since I bought the bike at Boehm’s in Saint Paul. I’ve had a great relationship with that bike shop for more than a decade and I was hopeful they hadn’t undergone any recent computer upgrades. I was in luck. Mike at Boehm’s located my receipt in minutes. He quickly emailed it to me and I got it into Troy’s hands, who in turn sent it on to Felt. Now we wait.

But, of course, there’s not much time to wait. I’ve got a few days before we leave. If Felt comes through, Troy said he’d piece the bike together with the many solid components off my old bike — including the $400-plus crank set and $300 rear wheel. I’ll add some new shoes and clips and a new aerobar. But at least I get to salvage something.

And, I guess, if it all turns out, I’ll be starting the ride with what will essentially be a new bike. I’ll be a little poorer, to be sure, but that’s a far sight better than hurtling off a broken bike in the mountains of Oregon.


  1. Not sure if it works this simply – that I can hit reply and send a comment?

    Just saw the video where Paul deepness some advice: “Stay home and get a job!”

    Now I know why you ride like ride – you look good in your black skull cap.

    Ride on, Ride on, Ride on

    And may Felt follow Spike’s advice and — Do The Right Thing!


  2. Wow! I get the feeling that a great part of the new adventure will be the new people you meet along the way when new glitches crop up! Life’s an adventure and this one is going to be primo!

  3. So sorry to hear about your mechanical setbacks, Mark! I’m relieved nothing too serious happened while you were ON your bike, though — and that people are coming through for you, too. This person in Minnesota is wishing you sunnier skies this evening and willing you on.

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