The Thule bike rack that does Lazarus proud
My old Thule bike rack has taken such a beating over the years that I now lovingly call it Lazarus.
The rack is as old as my car, which I think I purchased in August 1999. It’s served me well, hauling my various mountain bikes and road bikes hither and yon. No big deal ” that’s what they’re designed to do, right?
Well, my Thule has gone above and beyond standard service due to abuse and normal wear and tear. The abuse episode came early this decade during a fall that stayed insanely warm. The highway department closed Independence Pass as scheduled, although no snow had fallen and temperatures remained warm. Me and about a gazillion other road bikers took advantage of the car-free lanes. I was in such a satisfied stupor when I returned to my downvalley home that I forgot about the bike on top as I pulled into the garage. I slammed the brake as quickly as I could after hearing the sickening sound of metal screeching as it ripped and tore under ungodly strain.
The bike was toast, bent in ways that would do a contortionist proud. The rack also took a beating. It was bowed up in the middle, like a draw bridge starting to rise. The cinch mechanism for the back wheel and tire was stripped and ripped from the rack frame.
Miraculously, though, the front quick-release system for the bicycle forks survived. So after pounding the metal back in place, the rack was functional again if slightly bent and twisted.
The rack hasn’t been forced to pay for my stupidity again (I always block the way to prevent myself from pulling in the garage after I pull out with a bike). However, wear and tear over the years took their toll on the one critical bolt and nut combination that the rack depends on.
While bouncing along a rough road outside of Moab I heard an odd clunk and initially figured the padlock preventing the theft of my bike had banged on the roof, but I decided I’d better check. When I opened the door and started to stand up I got conked in the head by the handlebar of my bike, which had slipped down to a 90-degree angle. The constant jiggling of bicycles back and forth over all those years weakened and eventually sheered that critical bolt. When it gave way, the entire rack twisted so the bike was laying crosswise instead of standing upright. Fortunately this happened on a gravel road where I was going slow and could react rather than clipping along on Interstate 70.
I was forced to shuffle my gear and find room for the bike inside the car, and I was prepared to buy a new rack. Hat’s off, however, to the fellas at Cracks and Racks at the Aspen Business Center. They sold me the critical replacement bolt and for only $5 my old Thule was back in commission.
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