My mom always says that bad things happen in threes.
I am not superstitious, and I don't believe that at all.
1. Friday night, one of my front brake pads disappeared.
What?! Disappeared?! I know for certain that the pads were not mounted backwards, and I've ridden many miles with those pads, so I really have no idea what caused one to fall off/ fly away/ disintegrate. I was cruising down Lake Street and squeezed my front brake... no engagement. I actually thought that I had snapped a front brake cable because the lever was so loose in my hand. I limped to the shop and changed out both of my front pads and everything was right in brake-land again. "Slight" on the Scale of Inconvenience.
I have cantilever brakes on my bike. The photo above is of my bike, but these are similar brakes on a different bike to help illustrate what I'm working with:
Except that instead of the post kind of brake (above) where you replace the whole post when your pads wear out, I have the cartridge kind, where you just buy the pad, and it slips into the shoe and is held in place by a split pin. These are the exact brakes I have:
2. Monday evening, my front brakes were sticking.
On the way home from work, my brakes were rubbing, BIG TIME. I rode into work and everything was hunky dory, but on the way home one brake arm was way too close to the rim. I just assumed that I didn't do a very good job adjusting them when I replaced the pads or something, pulled over, and screwed the barrel adjuster in to loosen the brake tension enough so I could limp back to the shop. Again.
I frustrated myself by trying to make micro-adjustments with the spring adjuster. (Sheldon Brown has a nice page on this type of brake, and a graphic pointing out the spring adjuster.) It seemed like nothing was happening when I would screw in one side. So I would unscrew it. Still, nothing happened. Grr.
Turns out the spring popped out from under the spring adjusting screw. I just couldn't/ didn't see it at first. Shoved the spring back under the screw, made a few adjustments, and was on my way again. "Moderate" on the Scale of Annoyance.
3. This morning, I noticed a scraping sound...
On my ride into work the birds were singing and I thought to myself, "It's Friday the 13th today! I'm going to be riding the Demonicat tonight, it is Friday(!), I had a yummy breakfast, and all is good in Lowrah Town."
I just toed in my brakes and got everything purring like a kitten. WHAT is that NOISE?!
It's been wet and gritty out there, so I figured some gravel had gotten between the pad and the rim. Usually that stuff works its way out. But this was different. I stopped and noticed tiny metal shavings on my front fork behind the brake pads. Uh ohs. I checked the rim with my fingernail and there wasn't a huge gouge so I didn't do anything major like shear my rim in half, which was good, but there was definitely something cutting into my rim.
Flipped my bike over, unhooked the brakes and took off my front wheel. With a knife I dug a shard of metal out of my brake pad that was tiny, but wicked sharp. I felt around with my fingers and discovered another piece of metal stuck in the opposite pad. Yuck. I must have ridden through something really nasty. (Totally checked my tires after seeing those metal shavings, too!) Wheel in, brakes on, roll out! I was only a few minutes late, and it's still an awesome Friday.