2009 October 14
"How long will you continue to ride on a rim, knowing full well there is a crack forming around an eyelet? Will you give up on the rim right away and never ride it again? Will you replace the whole wheel even though the hub and spokes are fine? Maybe you have the money and you’d rather not worry about even the slightest possibility of sudden rim failure. In that case, I’m glad you are so financially secure. Make sure your cast-off parts go to someone who can use them.
But maybe you can’t afford a new wheel or even a new rim. Or maybe you don’t believe in giving up on equipment that still functions, even if there is no way of knowing how much longer the equipment will continue to function. You’ll have to keep riding that cracked rim. Will it make you paranoid? Will you monitor the crack constantly to see if it gets bigger? Will you take it easier than usual, trying to prolong the life of the rim? Or will you push it to the extreme to truly test the rim’s integrity?
How far from home will you ride on a cracked rim? Further than you can walk? Further than someone would drive to pick you up? How much faith will you put in your damaged equipment? Will you count on a cracked rim to get you everywhere you need to go? Will your cracked rim change your ideas about where you need to go? Or will you put your rim and yourself out to pasture, relegated to a life of nostalgia and longing?
Will you try to save the rim with epoxy? Will you continue applying the epoxy even after it becomes evident that the crack cannot be stopped? What will you do when a nipple finally pulls through?
Frank Vandenbroucke’s cracked rim was in his brain. He probably did not notice the crack at first. How much did it grow before he became aware of it? Certainly he must have figured it out before we did. Frank pushed himself beyond the limits the crack in his brain could endure. When he showed signs of failure we were disappointed, but we pushed him harder. Selfishly, we demanded that Frank perform at the level we had seen him perform at before the crack was visible. We ignored Frank’s damage. Now Frank Vandenbroucke is dead.
A person is not a piece of bicycle equipment. Unlike bike parts, damaged human parts often cannot be replaced or repaired. When a human is damaged beyond repair, we lose them for good. So long, VDB."
[Editor's Note: This interesting analogy on the collapse of VDB was unlike any I'd read before. Whilst researching commentaries on VDB's funeral I discovered it, and thought it quite worthy of sharing with you all. I hope you find it a compelling read. The author is Braze-on Dropout, from the blog: whacksonville. Perhaps one day he will honor us with an official guest post. But until then, Pappillon will tempt him with fame and fortune, and his name in lights!]