Of the 3,200 machines, there were 6 recumbents, and two armcycles. (the exact census: 1 Vision, 1 EZ-1, 1 Tour Easy (with zipper), 1 Bike-e, a Lightning Stealth (with coroplast bodywork), and a Ryan Duplex (this one from Alaska)).
Larry and I worked out of his 1967 VW bus (named "Aquarius"). It attracted almost as much attention as the riders did (including that of a state police officer, on the drive home. Driving an old bus below the speed limit [crosswinds made the posted limit inadvisable] at 1 am is grounds to stop it appears, and all present [not just the driver] are required to provide ID. He was disappointed when the cooler turned out to only hold gatorade). Larry's sister provided us with a wonderful bumper sticker (which I have to find a copy of) "Tool wielding apes on board". (yes, we did play 'dead tapes for the riders, until the curb depot tape deck ate the tape)
I used every cutting tool I brought with me (saws, files, taps, drills),
but the torch was idle this time. (tho the bike I brazed
back together last year, finished this year as well, with the "battle scar" very much evident). We had another "wheel from hell", this time it got whacked in shipping, and the bearing cups slid left about 1/2" (so the balls fell out). I got "strangest part replaced", the selector chain on the Sachs hub of the bike-e broke, and he got my spare. (the only recumbent needing work on the whole ride)
As always, much improvisation was the rule. I had to convert a (worn) look cleat into a SPD adapter for one rider, and a number of seatposts needed the help of a section of coke can. I forget what the baling wire fixed, but I came home with less than I left with.
The ride repairs got off to an "auspicious" start, while waiting for my parts bin to arrive the morning of the rides start, I was brought an "autobike", that the owners husband had tried to install the pedals onto. Unfortunately he didn't realize that they are handed, and that standing on the wrench wasn't required. The autobike (uses counterweights to implement a crude auto shift, heavily promoted in a late night half hour tv commercial) has a front freewheel crank (aka "not found in nature, or QBP catalog"). I chased the crank threads, and installed the pedals with loctite red. I hope they remembered to warn the crew boxing bikes at the end, that the pedals were on for good... Since it was a steel crank, the next step would have been to weld the pedal axles into place, if the locktite hadn't held. The locktite also served to repair a set of sunglasses.
At closing ceremonies, in addition to carrying in our usual "mojo" (ritual
object, basically a rim with parts broken by the riders
hanging from it, usually from spokes broken by other riders), the pit crews on the last morning gathered all the tires and tubes replaced, and knotted them into a very long string. (on the order of 100'). I took one of the "donor" hubs, and cut it in half to make a mouthpiece for a fork tube shofar, so it was a very silly bunch that marched into closing ceremonies. The chicken lady was there as usual, but no Jackie O this year. At least one elvis was spotted.
Lots of spokes were broken, tho (surprisingly) no bottom brackets this
year. Either the cheap Chinese ones are getting better, or the strong
dollar means that they used the shimano ones this year. There were
no lunched derailers, but one did drop a pulley Lots of people had bent
hangers -- Larry and I fixed at least 8. One woman who came in to
get her saddle clamp tightened, was found to have the seat post installed
backwards (by the shop). One rider took a fall, and filled
his STI shifter with sand. (I managed to clean it out with compressed air). We had a couple of broken axles, some trashed freehubs, and a bunch of sprung rims. There was a saddle with a broken nose. One rider did the ride left arm in a sling (think it happened before the ride) , but I didn't hear about anyone getting seriously injured on the ride. Despite all the destruction, every ride had a bike to finish on, and in only one case, was it not the one they started on. (they munched their bike badly enough on the last stretch, that there wasn't time to fix everything, so they got a loaner instead)
Larry (who plans to build a 'bent soon) is not a morning person (and that is an understatement). To help cope with that, he brought along a stovetop expresso machine (would you buy a pressure vessel labeled "Vesuviato"), and a camp stove. Unfortunately the first gallon jug of clear liquid he grabbed off the food table to brew with turned out to be gatorade without colored dye, and not the water its label claimed. Boy that was vile stuff -- we got a factory sealed jug of water, and tasted it before brewing the replacement batch.
On the ride out to the first pit stop, we passed a burning car (fire dept. on scene, making great gouts of steam that reduced on-road visibility to zero). The pre-ride rain dance must have worked, because the weather was just beautiful (its raining now). The pager they gave me was "bloody useless", apparently, the last subscriber that had the number must have been a drug dealer, as it kept going off at 15 minute intervals, with mystery messages....
CT was its usual hilly self, and it was the height of luxury to come home to flush toilets, and a bed I didn't have to inflate before using. Not to mention lights that I didn't have to go start (pull) a generator to use. I took monday off to catch up on sleep.
I had a great time, next year we will save all the tubes, and see if
we can get a string long enough to encircle all the crew. I encourage
other tool wielding apes to offer their hands and tools to the ride in
their city. It helps a good cause (without requiring you to raise
huge amounts of money from friends) and tool users are harder to find than
fund raising pedallers. Its also fun -- you have a bin of parts that you
didn't pay for, and a "MASH" ethic on repairs -- get it done quickly, and
safely, but some compromise in function is allowable. Its also a great
way to learn -- you see a huge variety of bikes (broken in rather creative
ways at times), and there is always another mechanic around to help with
things you aren't sure about.