Free at Last

If you were a fly on the wall (weird), you would have seen me in my living room last night, wrestling with the near wheel of my bike wielding scissors and knives like some kind of demented surgeon. There was cussing, strange noises, and things breaking. What in the world was I doing?

Only trying to remove the dork disk, the world’s most harmless-looking, unnecessary, frustratingly difficult bike component. You’ve seen them. Maybe you even have one on your own bike. They are the dinner plate-sized plastic discs that bike shops are required to insert between your spokes and cassette, Trojan horses of goofdom that remain unnoticed on people’s bikes for way too long, sneaking home with you like a tick in your armpit. I’ll say it again: they are unnecessary. Sure, maybe your chain could slip off your biggest sprocket. A lot of things could happen. A childish ape could become president. But come on.


The dork disc had remained on my Jamis Renegade for way too long. I tried a few times to remove it, wildly attacking it with dull scissors, but I was unsuccessful. Since it’s my get-around bike and I don’t ride it too often, I was content to let the disc remain, though I was never happy about it. The risk of being judged by a fellow in-the-know cyclist while running errands or camping in a state forest was pretty low.

But in preparation for this weekend’s bikepacking trip, I decided the disc had to be demolished, once and for all. The scissors wouldn’t work. I would need another tool. What could I find in our sparsely populated kitchen drawer?

Dull butter knife, can opener, plastic fork. No, no, no. Then the epiphany. That little-used (quite frankly, terrible) Christmas gift from a couple years ago: super strength knife set. The kind you see on infomercials that can apparently cut through granite blocks or a human femur or whatever. I’ve never used them for food, and thought I gave them all to Goodwill before my last move, but luckily somehow one was still lingering in the back of the drawer. Bingo.

I began sawing through the disc, and sure enough, the knife worked. Damn, the infomercials weren’t lying, I thought. Halfway through, I ran out of space; the knife was dangerously close to the near derailleur cable, and I accidentally put a few saw marks into a spoke or two. So I turned to my other tool: brute force. That’s where the cussing started, as I tussled with the disc, sliding it around, finally breaking bits of it until I could get an opening to saw through the rest. Towards the end I just pulled until the plastic shattered.

Then, in a glorious gesture of triumph, I ripped off the last chunk, heart rate spiking. I looked at the pile of plastic, which now appeared so meek and fragile, like it was innocently saying “what do you mean, I caused you so much frustration? I’m just a little bit of plastic.”

But I knew better.

Dork-free, finally