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05/30/2003 Entry: "Route changes, mechanical news, and an update from Van Wert, Ohio"

Between route changes, good news about the mechanical issues, and the nice people we met last night in Hartford City, there is a lot to catch up on. Read on for all the news...

Route Changes
We'll start off with an update on our route for the rest of the trip. We decided to map out a simpler route for awhile before joining up with the Northern Tier route. Basically, we stayed on Route 26 going East all the way across Indiana instead of heading Northeast earlier. Now we are taking various roads that actually go in a more Northeasterly direction towards Lake Erie instead of doing the zigzagging North and then East as we would have done in the gridlike roads of Indiana. Tonight we will be staying in Ottoville, Ohio and tomorrow we will be staying in Fremont, Ohio. On Saturday, we be spending the day at Cedar Point Amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio courtesy of Josh's uncle Don. Thanks Don, we can't wait! After that we'll join up with our planned route through Rochester, New York, but our overnight towns along the way will probably differ from those originally planned. After Rochester, we will once again deviate from our original route. Instead of going South through the Finger Lakes and through the Catskills, we will be following the Erie Canal on to Albany. We will be taking Highway 9 through most of Massachussetts. At Worcester, Massachusetts, we will get on Highway 20 and take that into Boston. These are the current plans, but as always, they are subject to change.

Mechanical issues
Now an update on our mechanical issues. If you have been following our trip, I'm sure you are aware that we have had many problems with our rear wheels. We began breaking spokes on day 2 of the trip and at least someone has broke a spoke almost every day since. We're not just talking about a few spokes here, Mark broke 20 (that's over half of the spokes on the wheel), and I have broken 14. Everyone else has broke a few as well. When we started the trip, we didn't have the necessary tools to replace drive side spokes on the rear wheel. Since normally people don't break spokes at such a rapid rate, you can almost always make it to a bike shop to get it repaired. After breaking lots of spokes in the middle of nowhere, Seager and Mark biked over a mountain pass to get to a bike shop that would sell us a chain whip and cassette cracker. We have since gotten a lot of practice with these tools. On RAGBRAI, a new problem with our wheels arose. The rims started cracking around the eyelets. These cracks widened to a point where the wheels were dangerous to ride on. To see what I mean, click here to see a photo of my rim.

After we started replacing a lot of spokes, we called Steve Batten, the shop manager at True Wheel Bicycles in Council Bluffs, where we purchased our bikes. After all, the Jamis Aurora's that we are riding are advertised as being ready to stand up to riding "when fully loaded for the big tour." That's a quote from the Jamis website. Steve did a lot of calling the warranty deparments at Jamis and Ritchey. Basically, the warranty departments at the companies tried to put Steve off for quite awhile and hoped we would go away. Apparently Ritchey supplied Jamis with hubs and rims and then the wheels were made at the Jamis factory with spokes purchased by Jamis. At one point the warranty guy at Jamis said that they got a bad shipment of spokes and our wheels were made with those spokes. Anyway, neither Jamis or Ritchey wanted to take responsibility and do anything to remedy the situation. Finally, Jamis sent us new wheels, but they were of a different brand and made from parts of even less quality than our original wheels. We did not accept these because they would have fallen apart in a few weeks anyway. So Steve kept plugging away and finally got to some managers high up at Ritchey. Ritchey didn't want to do anything at all until we threatened put pictures on the internet of the cracked rims that were failing. I finally got ahold of the manager at Ritchey and threatened legal action if one of us got hurt because of the inaction of part of Ritchey regarding their defective products. The manager told me that those rims weren't designed to stand up to loaded touring and that they would always fail after any significant amount of loaded touring. The only thing Ritchey would offer to do is to send the same model rims to a bike shop along our route. We are tired of fighting with Ritchey and Jamis, so we accepted this and figured we could perhaps get some store credit for the rims at the bike shop.

We had the rims shipped to Project Bike Shop in Lafayette, Indiana. Luckily, the Cherry family that runs the Project Bike Shop is very knowledgeable and very nice. The Cherry family also runs Cherry Bicycles. John Cherry makes custom titanium and steel frames and makes custom bikes. He does awesome work and you should check out there website if you get a chance. His single speed mountain bikes have had a lot of success in racing and it was interesting to hear about the different racing strategies using a rigid single speed mountain bike versus a suspended and geared mountain bike.

Anyway, we were lucky to find John because he is an expert wheel builder. Mark, Seager, and I were all in need of rebuilt wheels. They credited us for the rims shipped in and John rebuilt 3 wheels in a couple hours. Very impressive indeed. After taking care of the wheels, we camped out in John's backyard for the night and exchanged some biking stories.

Here's a recap on the mechanical issues:
Thanks to Steve at True Wheel Bicycles for all his hard work dealing with the warranty departments. Thanks to the Cherry family at Project Bike Shop for getting us rolling again so we can get to Boston. As far as our rear wheels go, we don't know whether the problem was that the wheels were built using defective spokes, or that they were machine built and not prepped correctly, or that the rims used were not designed to hold up to loaded touring. We got conflicting answers from Jamis and Ritchey and neither company was cooperative when dealing with the warranty department.

Right now I would still say that the Jamis Aurora is a good bang for the buck, but I would get the rear wheel built by hand with a new rim before taking it on any extended loaded tour. Don't expect any help from the company if you have problems with it.

Hartford City
Last night when I rolled into Hartford City, I saw some folks outside The Wesleyan Church. I met the youth pastor, Tom, and he said we could stay inside at their church. Then I met Jake, the leader of a christian band called N-Deep. Both Tom and Jake were extremely helpful and provided showers at their houses and gave us some food. It was a good night, we had a roof over our head, air conditioning, and we didn't even have to cook dinner.

If you'd like to find out more about Jake's band, check out there website at They are organizing a benefit concert with the Red Cross and some other regional bands in order to raise money for those that need help after the recent flood.

We lost an hour today when we crossed over into the Time Zone so it's a bit late and I should get going. Hope you can rest easier now that we're riding on safe wheels.

Replies: Leave us a note! (4)

Hi Josh and everyone!

It was really good talking to you last night Josh and Amy. You guys are all doing a heckuva job on this trip. There are a lot of neat people in this world and you've met some of them. i hope everybody stays healthy the rest of the way. Amy and all the rest of you take it easy and make sure Josh does, does too.You're all doing agood job. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Go Atlanta Braves and Pittsburgh Steelers. Next to these bicycle Road Warriors you are the best!!!!! My love to you all. Onto Boston!!!!
Love and prayers. Josh's dad Jack

Posted by Josh's dad @ 08/03/2003 03:14 PM CST

Really glad to hear that you are on safer wheels! Do hope things will go better with the surgical repair job.
So much for reputable advertising,
businesses take many shortcuts to save a buck. Glad you got tough with these guys, but you should never have been put in the position to have to.
The great thing to hear is how many wonderful people who have come to your aid when you needed it as well as welcoming you into their homes for creature comforts!
Granny Carolyn

Posted by Granny Carolyn @ 08/02/2003 01:44 AM CST

Dear Guy's we were so glad to read your journal as we were hoping things were going good for you. My, you have had the problems but it will all be over soon. We were at Sandusky many years ago when we were living in Cleveland.It is sure a great place to visist.Good luck to all of you. Grandma Goodell

Posted by Patricia Goodell-Grandmother of Jesse @ 07/31/2003 09:24 PM CST

Hey guys, this is Morgan. Just wanted to say I'm sorry for all the problems you've had. I am glad there are still some nice folks out there. The more I hear about the trip the more I wish I was on it but it would be impossible with my knee. I am very thankful I was able to do the first half with you guys. I plan to ride across America when I am older and healed up. I hope to see you all in future years, and Jesse I am extremly happy you will be living in Omaha. Mike, hope you're feeling better. Way to take the pain. I am working on pull ups too. Well I'll write back soon. I will pray for tailwinds! Your fellow biker, Morgan Shumaker

Posted by Morgan @ 07/31/2003 09:06 PM CST




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