...and now let me tell you about the time I made Roger cry.

...and now let me tell you about the time I made Roger cry.

Anatomy of a Photo: Top Dog

by / / 36 posts

I have it on excellent authority that life is good when you’re at the top. I myself am, of course, nowhere near the top but I felt a glimmer of it today, briefly savoring the unique palate of having some semblance of form in January. Which feels a lot like a victory over Christmas. And kicking Christmas’ ass feels pretty rad.

Then suddenly – and quite rudely, I might say – my rear axle broke, at which point the performance characteristics of my bicycle were diminished not unsubstantially. Our experience atop the peaks are brief; the journey we call life takes place primarily in the valleys and upon the slopes.

If life has taught me anything, it’s that you should feel free to grab the pompoms on any Marine’s hat anytime you please, particularly if you happen to be wearing a totally sick Molteni Alimentari jumper.

If you also happen to be Eddy Merckx and you recently had your sideburns oiled by your man-servant, then said Marines might not even celebrate your gesture by killing you.

// Anatomy of a Photo

  1. Sadly, nothing I’ll have to worry about here. Oh, there was that one time in 1990

  2. They’re French Navy rather than Belgian Marines, so he’s probably telling them how he made their entire country cry.

  3. ‘Repeatedly’

  4. I fucking love it. I have not seen this photo before, and it is pure tits! Eddy and RDV ooze cool like no one else.

  5. @Barracuda

    Sadly, nothing I’ll have to worry about here. Oh, there was that one time in 1990

    Ditto – except 1986.

    What do you think Eddy just said? “Hello sailor”?

  6. I too have a semblance of form, somewhat round that is. Thanks for the photo Frank, life can never have enough Merckx.

  7. @frank – is there a wee posting bugette that is not showing the last post or so? I see some posts in the Recent Posts column but when I go to the main topic the last post or so do not show. Tried on multiple browsers and both Mac and PC.

  8. @Teocalli

    Cannot even see your post, but there must be un petit erreur.

  9. @PT

    He’s showing them how to properly position their casquettes: “just so, boys, just so.”

  10. The posts in the main topic seem to be showing up several hours after they appear in the Recent Posts feed. How odd.

  11. Rear axle broke? While riding it? Did this cause a crash?

    That sounds potentially very bad. And wondering what would cause an axle to break?

  12. @Ron

    Probably just went clickety-clink all the way home. This serious violation of the Principle of Silence could definitely be described as diminished performance, but let’s not be too quick to place blame. If it’s a lightweight axle, I’ll give @frank a pass. But assuming he’s riding Nine wheels, they probably have steel (read, “not rust-proof”) axles, in which case further investigation of a potential Rule #65 violation is warranted.

  13. @Ron

    Frank pointed out that his form has been rounding up to a decent level, even for the post holiday, January thaw. When you have that level of power early, you don’t feel the pedals. But you do break things, such as axles.

    Chapeau, Frank!

  14. @Ron

    Turns out it wasn’t the axle but the inner bearing on the Chris King freehub exploded due to my crushing it so wicked hard. Bearings everywhere when Doug over at Branford Bike tore it apart.

    I’m sure its just due to wear, but some breakages just make you feel tough!

    Even if it was the axel, by the way, it really can’t go anywhere if the quick release is closed tight, so you just ride home. In my case the breakage did loosen the hub and freehub along the axle so the wheel could move around by about 1cm in either direction. Made for goofy handling, that’s for sure, but it was rideable enough. Like riding your cross bike in mud.

  15. What are they doing hanging around the “RUNNER’S WAITING ROOM”? ‘Cause we know Eddy ain’t no runner.

  16. Form in January? Lest thee be a cross specialist: “Small gears in January, big gears in June. Big gears in January, nothing in June.”

  17. @Joe Cline

    Form in January? Lest thee be a cross specialist: “Small gears in January, big gears in June. Big gears in January, nothing in June.”

    Thank you. Makes me feel better about my ride on Sunday!

  18. @Philonius

    “Racers’ waiting room.” Courir is to run, but faire la course is to race. Et quand-même, celui qui court pendant une course à vélo est un coureur.

    Ou tu plaisantais?

  19. @frank

    I’m sure its just due to wear, but some breakages just make you feel tough!

    Rule #65! I knew it! So busted.

    Although, I guess I can’t throw stones. I once had to call a sibling from a golf course payphone for a ride home on account of a broken chain. This was many years ago, when I was lad, before multi-tools including pin drivers of course. Plus the payphone reference should lend a hint of ‘back when’ that absolves me to some extent.

  20. @frank

    @Ron

    Turns out it wasn’t the axle but the inner bearing on the Chris King freehub exploded due to my crushing it so wicked hard. Bearings everywhere when Doug over at Branford Bike tore it apart.

    I’m sure its just due to wear, but some breakages just make you feel tough!

    Even if it was the axel, by the way, it really can’t go anywhere if the quick release is closed tight, so you just ride home. In my case the breakage did loosen the hub and freehub along the axle so the wheel could move around by about 1cm in either direction. Made for goofy handling, that’s for sure, but it was rideable enough. Like riding your cross bike in mud.

    Only time I’ve ever had to climb into the broom wagon was when my DTSwiss freehub exploded on the (somewhat inaccurately named) “Ride With Brad” a couple of years back. As I recall, whilst discussing it on this site, it was pointed out to me by @frank that there were two obvious causes of mechanical failure: 1) I was a fat bastard 2) I was riding in a sportive. @frank – given you weren’t riding a sportive what’s your story?

  21. @the Engine

    For me it was on the Jurassic Sportive summer before last. Terrifying high speed descent in a gale crosswind, near got blown off the road. Got to the bottom of the hill ready for the next up and had a totally free free hub. Turned out the pawl spring had gone on the descent. Was in the middle of nowhere (relatively speaking) took ages to get recovered and it was a tad chilly.

  22. @frank

    @Ron

    Turns out it wasn’t the axle but the inner bearing on the Chris King freehub exploded due to my crushing it so wicked hard. Bearings everywhere when Doug over at Branford Bike tore it apart.

    I’m sure its just due to wear, but some breakages just make you feel tough!

    Even if it was the axel, by the way, it really can’t go anywhere if the quick release is closed tight, so you just ride home. In my case the breakage did loosen the hub and freehub along the axle so the wheel could move around by about 1cm in either direction. Made for goofy handling, that’s for sure, but it was rideable enough. Like riding your cross bike in mud.

    I’m curious what you think of the Chris King hubs? I’m looking to pay off my student debt this year and want to start hiding cash under a mattress for a new set of wheels. Shop near me wants to lace some Mavic Open Pros to Chris King R45s. I can’t decide between that or the same rims with DT Swiss 240s or just being bland and getting a set of mavic Ksyriums of some variety. I’m not looking to carbone at this point in time.

  23. @PantaniForever

    @frank

    @Ron

    Turns out it wasn’t the axle but the inner bearing on the Chris King freehub exploded due to my crushing it so wicked hard. Bearings everywhere when Doug over at Branford Bike tore it apart.

    I’m sure its just due to wear, but some breakages just make you feel tough!

    Even if it was the axel, by the way, it really can’t go anywhere if the quick release is closed tight, so you just ride home. In my case the breakage did loosen the hub and freehub along the axle so the wheel could move around by about 1cm in either direction. Made for goofy handling, that’s for sure, but it was rideable enough. Like riding your cross bike in mud.

    I’m curious what you think of the Chris King hubs? I’m looking to pay off my student debt this year and want to start hiding cash under a mattress for a new set of wheels. Shop near me wants to lace some Mavic Open Pros to Chris King R45s. I can’t decide between that or the same rims with DT Swiss 240s or just being bland and getting a set of mavic Ksyriums of some variety. I’m not looking to carbone at this point in time.

    DT Swiss are the tits but it’s probably down to personal choice, aesthetics and budget

  24. Paying off your student debt? You’d better be a lot older, as that is a dream that won’t come true for quite awhile.

    DT Swiss just did me a solid yesterday. Couldn’t find the spoke nipples I was after anywhere in the U.S., called them and they agreed to sell them to me. Nice! 2nd wheelset in a few months and will get the steed to the shape/look I’m after. Can’t wait, been wanting to update this wheelset for 5 years.

    And wow, while breaking parts is never fun, at least a hub explosion that is rideable ain’t so bad, as it confirms your draft horse strength! It sucks when you think “Ahh, I have all the bikes in tip-top shape, can’t wait for months of focussed riding…” And then something blows up. Oh well, I guess it happens when you ride all the time. Stuff breaks. Even nice stuff, as demonstrated by a King hub failure.

  25. @litvi

    @frank

    I’m sure its just due to wear, but some breakages just make you feel tough!

    Rule #65! I knew it! So busted.

    Although, I guess I can’t throw stones. I once had to call a sibling from a golf course payphone for a ride home on account of a broken chain. This was many years ago, when I was lad, before multi-tools including pin drivers of course. Plus the payphone reference should lend a hint of ‘back when’ that absolves me to some extent.

    A pay whatnow?

    And it wasn’t Rule #65 violation, it was pure, unabated pooooowwwwwaaaaaaaaahhh!

  26. @Joe Cline

    Form in January? Lest thee be a cross specialist: “Small gears in January, big gears in June. Big gears in January, nothing in June.”

    Having form and riding big gears are two different things. I won’t switch from my 53×39 to my 66×54 until May.

  27. @the Engine

    Please see above.

    @PantaniForever

    @frank

    @Ron

    Turns out it wasn’t the axle but the inner bearing on the Chris King freehub exploded due to my crushing it so wicked hard. Bearings everywhere when Doug over at Branford Bike tore it apart.

    I’m sure its just due to wear, but some breakages just make you feel tough!

    Even if it was the axel, by the way, it really can’t go anywhere if the quick release is closed tight, so you just ride home. In my case the breakage did loosen the hub and freehub along the axle so the wheel could move around by about 1cm in either direction. Made for goofy handling, that’s for sure, but it was rideable enough. Like riding your cross bike in mud.

    I’m curious what you think of the Chris King hubs? I’m looking to pay off my student debt this year and want to start hiding cash under a mattress for a new set of wheels. Shop near me wants to lace some Mavic Open Pros to Chris King R45s. I can’t decide between that or the same rims with DT Swiss 240s or just being bland and getting a set of mavic Ksyriums of some variety. I’m not looking to carbone at this point in time.

    Friends don’t let friends ride Ksyriums.

    I love my CK’s – I’ve got a newish set on my V-Wheels, love them. These that blew out are very old, as in V or six years and other than this little mishap, they are still smooth as silk. The ratchet mechanism in their hubs is second to non, and the engagement is so quick every other wheel I have feels soggy on initiation. Both my main road bikes (the nine bike and the #1) have CK hubs, different models. I think the #1 below has 45’s.

    That said, I spun a set of DT Suisse 180 ceramics over at Branford and they felt so smooth it was like they were sitting on a magnetic field, not a bearing.

  28. One day I’ll sit down with Fabian and show him how to properly apply some power to the pedals.

  29. @frank

    Is that blackened, incinerated, by the Frank-V? Awesome.

  30. Talk of broken axles reminded me of this photo. Sucks when that extra-light bit gives up the ghost when you least expect it.

  31. @frank

    @Joe Cline

    Form in January? Lest thee be a cross specialist: “Small gears in January, big gears in June. Big gears in January, nothing in June.”

    Having form and riding big gears are two different things. I won’t switch from my 53×39 to my 66×54 until May.

    Winter training gearing.

  32. I’ve lusted after Chris King hubs forever but never owned them. My Bontrager carbone wheels came with Swiss DT hubs. The freewheel body has a sealed bearing in it and the freehub body comes off and goes on without tools! I suspect the hub body bearings are sealed too. It does not sound as cool as a CK hub or look as nice as it’s just black. That Bontrager chose them for their race wheels says something. Adequate and serviceable if one is adept at removing and installing pressed-in bearings.

  33. @chuckp

    Disk brakes. The horror.

  34. @the Engine

    @frank

    @Ron

    Turns out it wasn’t the axle but the inner bearing on the Chris King freehub exploded due to my crushing it so wicked hard. Bearings everywhere when Doug over at Branford Bike tore it apart.

    I’m sure its just due to wear, but some breakages just make you feel tough!

    Even if it was the axel, by the way, it really can’t go anywhere if the quick release is closed tight, so you just ride home. In my case the breakage did loosen the hub and freehub along the axle so the wheel could move around by about 1cm in either direction. Made for goofy handling, that’s for sure, but it was rideable enough. Like riding your cross bike in mud.

    Only time I’ve ever had to climb into the broom wagon was when my DTSwiss freehub exploded on the (somewhat inaccurately named) “Ride With Brad” a couple of years back. As I recall, whilst discussing it on this site, it was pointed out to me by @frank that there were two obvious causes of mechanical failure: 1) I was a fat bastard 2) I was riding in a sportive. @frank – given you weren’t riding a sportive what’s your story?

    Touché!

  35. Military uniforms can be a bit silly, but pompoms? I shudder to think what those dudes do when they cross the equator wearing those…

  36. @Bruce Lee

    Talk of broken axles reminded me of this photo. Sucks when that extra-light bit gives up the ghost when you least expect it.

    Exceptionally strong work in digging that up. I’d forgotten about that one!

    @chuckp

    @frank

    @Joe Cline

    Form in January? Lest thee be a cross specialist: “Small gears in January, big gears in June. Big gears in January, nothing in June.”

    Having form and riding big gears are two different things. I won’t switch from my 53×39 to my 66×54 until May.

    Winter training gearing.

    Yeah, but my winter bike doesn’t have such a sit up and beg position.

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