A cracking time…

Posted by on 13, Jun 2023 in 2023 - Cathedrals, Europe, Tilly the Tandem, UK

A cracking time…
Oh dear… ????
Surgeon at work…
Alloy weld fix.
Back up and running.. ????
Soooooo tempting… ⛴️⛴️
And up another hill to get away… Before we change our minds..
Navigating the steps on the downhill cycle path hill into Dover
Battle of Britain Memorial
Yay… Sun is out and time for our first ice cream ????

Poor Tilly! 51,005km, 10 years 5 months 2 days old and the chain stay snapped completely through.

We think it’s been cracked for a while though as we’ve had an irritating creaking occasionally and despite removing almost every component from the bike, regreasing and retorqueing haven’t been able to find it. Everytime we removed a bit the noise stopped and we thought ha! Found it. Then a few km on it would start again.

I’d looked for cracks but hadn’t noticed anything (obviously didn’t look hard enough!) So we went over a speed table and the back wheel suddenly wobbled. We’d just come down to the sea front in Herne Bay on a steep hill at speed as it was a main road and we don’t like to hang about on them, but the speed bump was on a deserted promenade road and it was just like November in temperature, cloud cover and howling gale.

We wheeled Tilly to a bench on the sea front and phoned a local garage. He couldnt help, but a few minutes later he phoned back and gave us the number of an Aluminium welder who could.

As fate would have it we were about 300m from a van hire place who had one van left which would be ready in 10 minutes and 10km from the welder who said he could weld Tilly the moment we arrived, which he did!

The problem with welding Aluminium (we are told) is that it weakens the adjacent aluminium which will then crack in due course and you’ll end up welding the entire frame in the end. The welder didn’t subscribe to this view – he welded Alloy wheels and they will be under a lot of stress I’d imagine so perhaps he’s right, but our bike man and the welder who made our bike racks both said -“It’ll crack” but they thought it would last for a while. Neither would guess how long though so we were in a dilemma.

Do we give up?

Tilly is 10 years old, they don’t make her anymore but I saw one on eBay about a month ago for the first time in years. (I have an alert for them!) It hadn’t sold at the time so I dropped the seller an email and he still had it.

It looks brand new so we bought it and he’s arranging to ship it down to Ipswich where we will return with Tilly to do major surgery with a frame swap. It will be a week or so before Tilly’s new frame arrives in Ipswich so we decided to proceed with caution (don’t hurtle down the Cliffs of Dover Jon!) And Keep Calm and Carry On.

So we set off the next day from Margate down to Deal with Tilly purring along with only the occasional creak. Now is that another crack? A loose component? The bottom bracket?

We had a day off in Deal, 7 days riding for us is at the limit of our endurance, even if they are shortish rides and we slept like babies for 12 hours, got up, had breakfast at lunch time, then ventured out about 2pm for some lunch and had a breakfast!

After stuffing ourselves we then carefully inspected Tilly’s frame and fortunately couldn’t find any sign of other cracks. That’s a relief!

So, Tilly checked we embarked onto the hilly bit – Dover. Our friends Matilda’s Musings once told us about the categorisation of hills for cycle competitions. There are 5, but we’ve simplified this somewhat to 1. That doesn’t look too bad, 2. Oh shit and 3. Where’s the station?

Dover is our category 2 hill. Twice. And with the added take it easy the bike frame may fall apart at any moment problem, we didn’t have the benefit of rolling down the other side and going ‘weeeeee’. Mind you coming into Dover there really wasn’t any chance to roll as the path for bikes (if you don’t fancy going on a main road) was walking only, with steps and was extremely steep.

But we reached the port and both looked at the ticket office and each other and thought long and hard about bailing out and going to Europe…

But with our current frame issues decided to plod on toward the next hill out of Dover instead.

We actually managed to cycle up all the first hill and nearly all the 2nd one, hopping off when it got up to 10% which was just too much for us.

We got overtaken by 5 mountain bikers in all the lycra and no luggage but to their surprise, caught them up at the Battle of Britain memorial site.

We said hello, as you do, and immediately got a lecture from one of the ladies about not wearing a helmet. Apparently her or a friend’s life had been saved by a helmet and she had been converted to the Evangelical arm of the Church of Helmetology.

Now if you want to wear a helmet that’s fine with us, go for it. But don’t tell us to. We hate them for various reasons, not least of which is I love my big brimmed hat and factor 50 to protect me against the sun and aren’t going to look a right muppet in a brimmed hat and helmet.

Anyway, the lady who ranted at us both just turned her back and walked off as we explained why we don’t wear a helmet and that Cycling UK are currently actively promoting not wearing a helmet… leaving her poor hubby standing there agreeing with us and a bit embarrassed. What a twat.

We stayed at the BoB memorial site for lunch with a spitfire and hurricane standing behind us and then carried on to Folkestone which was lovely. Almost continental with a gorgeous sea front park to cycle through.

It was then sea wall for much of the rest of the day and after about 30 more Kms we overtook the Helmetologists and waved but they blanked us. Really? Dear oh dear how sad..

But we enjoyed our helmet free cycle on to Rye on some lovely back roads after we left the sea wall and were a touch disappointed to find we’d booked a hotel at the top of yer another hill. Bad planning.


  1. Like your hill level 3 description!!!!

  2. I just can’t understand why some people feel they have the right to pontificate to complete strangers about helmets ( or anything else) !!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.