Cycling is not a cheap sport.

Even when you try to be frugal it can charge “convenience fees” in very sneaky forms.

There are the expendables: tires, chains, chainrings, tubes, and the like. This year, I’ve replaced a chain, both chainrings, a few tubes and three tires. The last bit stings the most, mainly because I really like a tire that’s not the most affordable tire around – the Michelin Pro3 Race – but has such a lovely ride. They’re just not durable: I rode a new P3R threadbare in less than 2,000 miles. Sure, it’s a racing tire, and I rode it through a very wet spring, but that’s a short lifespan for a tire that’s not cheap.

The wet spring and early summer also did in my bottom bracket, a SRAM GXP Team model that was the loudest thing on the planet. Well, not really, but it made my bike awfully loud. That finally got replaced last week, and it’s bliss again.

Then there are the things that aren’t the typical “annual replacement” items – like wheels.

My Pedal Force has Neuvation wheels, and they’ve been great: light, responsive and durable. My rear wheel had a rim crack after 7,000 or so miles and, even though it was out of warranty, the good folks at Neuvation replaced it, no questions asked. I finally got around to transferring my cassette and tire to the new wheel the other day (having borrowed a wheel from a generous MABRA member from Maryland) and it was lovely: tight, true, quiet.

If only I’d been a bit more detail-oriented in setting it up last night, because after 2.1 miles of riding, it’s done for.

Y’see, I didn’t check the alignment of my derailleur to the cogs. Even though this is supposed to be a standard thing, it can vary from wheel to wheel, and I didn’t bother checking. So as I rode home, I managed to downshift to the granny cog in the rear and I overshifted into the spokes.

My chain locked itself into a recess between hub flange, spokes and cassette and was stuck really, really well. I had to have sprite come and pick me up, as there was no way the chain was being freed, and no way for the wheel to spin without causing more damage.

Once home, I removed the chain and cassette to investigate the damage: four spokes in need of replacement, and one hub gouged beyond repair.

Ugh. The upside: at least this happened close to home, rather than on the ride I’m going on this Sunday. That would’ve gone down in the Suck Hall of Fame.

So, if Steve is reading this: I need to borrow your wheel for a few more days. I’ve ordered a replacement wheel (a Campagnolo Record/Mavic Open Pro unit – glad I re-upped my Team Performance membership – though I’ll order another Neuvation later this year, as well), and I’ll be very careful to check my derailleur alignment and limit screw settings before I ride on it.

Penance paid – I’m a glutton for punishment.