I had a weird disaster today; a stray coat hanger may have destroyed my bike =O Pull up a chair and grab a cold one, and I'll tell the tale...
So there I was, near the end of one of my usual rides, a little 28-mile jaunt around Thousand Oaks, and I'm cruising around 20mph, and I run over a coat hanger. (Actually I thought it was a stick.) I hear it sort of banging around in my back wheel, and suddenly the back wheel stops spinning. I fishtail to a stop, look down, and see that my rear derailleur has torn off the back of the bike, and is now dangling from the chain just behind my bottom bracket. Closer inspection reveals the coat hanger wrapped around my back axle, inside the chain, and also intertwined with the chain and the derailleur. Must have gotten sucked in there in just the wrong way so as to cause maximum damage.
What a freak accident, I could run over that same coat hanger 1,000 times and not have anything happen. Weird.
So I had to be rescued by my daughter Jordan - the bike was not capable of forward movement :( - and once I got home it took me 45 minutes to cut the coat hanger free and assess the damage. The derailleur is most likely irreparable (see pic at left), too bad, since it is original equipment on this 10-year-old bike, and has seen about 40,000 miles, but not a disaster. The really bad thing is that the back tang of the frame to which the derailleur attaches is badly mangled (see pic above). The tang is a piece of aluminum which is bonded into the frame, and I'm afraid the frame itself will have to be repaired to replace the tang. That means carbon fiber work.
The rest of the rig seems to have survived; the wheel is undamaged, the cassette looks okay, and the chain looks okay (although it was tweaked rather severely and I'll probably replace it when I replace the derailleur). But I no longer have a working bike, and the frame repair is going to be expensive and time consuming if it can even be done. Worst case, I may be looking at buying a whole new bike. Yuck.
Not only would buying a new bike be expensive, but I love my bike. Oh well, it is what it is... stay tuned for updates. And watch out for coat hangers on the road!
[Update: Well, all's well that ends well; this story has a happy ending, and there's a lot to it; please click through to weird disaster recovery for links to all of it...]