I honestly knew it would happen sooner or later. I’ve heard horror stories of friends forgetting they had bikes mounted to the top of the car when they pulled into their garage. Since we are frequently carrying all 5 bikes around on the back of our truck, I kind of forget they are there sometimes (check out this post for our configuration). Parking in downtown metro areas can be difficult as often the clearance levels are quite tall enough for us. Those don’t seem to be a problem though as I usually remember because there are signs saying “low clearance”. But what happens when there aren’t any signs?
It was a beautiful day in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We made plans with my sister-in-law to visit a local farm and pick strawberries. The kind where they hand you a box and set you up on a row to pick until you are done. Sounded super fun and the kids were pretty excited. Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication on timing and location and we ended up with a spare forty-five minutes.
While we were waiting we checked out the local off-road cycling track at Elm Creek Park Reserve. Since we always have our bikes with us, it was super easy to pull them off ride, load back up and head to meet my sister-in-law. We even had a spare bike for my mom to ride!
Soon enough we were at the farm picking plump, red strawberries off the vines. Not wanting TOO many strawberries (small fridge, remember?) we picked for about forty-five minutes and the kids had a lot of fun.
As we were driving out, the check out stand was located underneath a pagoda-looking structure. You drive in one end, stop in the middle, they weigh your strawberries, you pay and then drive out.
Turns out its on a hill.
We made it through the entrance, and then promptly crashed the bikes into the overhang on the way out.
I can still hear the crunch of metal bending awkwardly, and see the bikes hanging off the truck in my rear view mirror. I will probably have nightmares for weeks to come.
Had I been in a less frantic state of mind, getting a photo of the two adult sized bikes barely hanging onto the racks by their wheel straps would have been epic. Turns out, however, I was too busy trying to minimize even more damage and get them down off the racks instead.
The owner felt terrible, but there wasn’t a whole lot he could do. Since one of our cross bars was bent and two of the towers had ripped out of their counterparts, I worked on taking all the bikes and the rack off the truck. At this point I was grateful my sister-in-law was there in her mini-van as we loaded most of the bikes into the back of her vehicle, and the rack pieces into mine. Did I mention Sam wasn’t with us? I called him on the phone and we both kept pretty calm. Mostly I was just mad I couldn’t go ride those trails some more.
A quick assessment of the damage had dollar signs in my eyeballs, but once I calmed down and we made it to a local bike shop (which the farm owner had called and told them we were coming) it looked like one ruined High Roller Yakima rack, one bent cross bar, and a tacoed rear wheel on the mountain bike.
A quick replacement of the rim and a thorough inspection by the mechanic and the mountain bike was back in business. Somehow the mechanic even managed to straighten out our Yakima cross bar. Super human strength? I think so. Once the bar was straight I was able to put the towers back together and mount the bars completely. How they ripped apart and nothing cracked or broke is a complete mystery to me. We’ll definitely put that in the “tender mercies from the Lord” category and file it away. While they were working on my bike, the kids, grandma, and I camped out in the store and finally ate our lunch. The employees even offered us water bottles. Best bike store ever. If you need a bike shop in Minneapolis, definitely check out Trailhead Cycling and Fitness in Champlin.
Since the rest of the bikes were with my sister-in-law I had to wait until we got back to her house to check them out. The kids’ bikes were short enough they didn’t really hit anything and looked fine, but the cyclocross had a ripped seat (it hit facing backwards, seat first) and a pretty out of true rear wheel. There was another bike shop about 10 minutes from her house and with a sob story they were able to true it in about 15 minutes only having to replace one spoke.
In the meantime I had a little ice cream therapy.
We ended up having to replace two of our High Roller racks, but were able to find one at about half the new cost on Craiglist and ended up with a Yakima Raptor Aero for the other one. Cara’s Woombike is too small to fit on the High Roller anyway, so it will come in handy in the near future.
All said and done, the experience wasn’t as tragic as I had expected. We ended up only spending about $60 over our insurance deductible and decided it wasn’t worth the trouble of filing the paperwork. Should it ever happen again (which it’d better not), it looked like our personal property insurance would have helped covered the replacement costs.
On the bright side, we managed to get everything taken care of to ride the Watermelon Ride in nearby Shoreview which we found out about from a flier in the bike shop. Always need to look for the silver linings, right?