I usually stay behind Nikolai so he can lead the way with his bright light, but I don't stay behind enough. The big mistake that I made during the ride was that rather than staying in line directly behind Nik, I rode next to him so that my front wheel just overlapped with his rear ever so slightly. Why I did that, I don't know. Anyway, he thought I was far enough behind him and decided to merge. Because of my position, our wheels caught and I lost balance. I was a little bit scraped up, but it wasn't anything serious. My only concern was about the bike. Having just been restored less than a month ago, here it was, laying on the concrete after sliding to a stop. Much to my surprise, the bike didn't lose paint; however, the handlebar did turn sideways, allowing the front brake caliper to drag on the ground. I quickly adjusted the handlebars but found out that the brake nut had popped off due to the caliper tearing at the bolt, which itself was now bent.
I didn't have a front brake when we rode more than ten miles back home. My rear brake, however ineffective, worked better than I had expected. The front fender kept smacking the fork because that too was held together with the brake bolt. I got home at 11 PM and was obviously chewed out by my father. Nikolai recorded that we rode 29.2 miles, and adding the distance from my house to his, I probably rode 30. I never expected 30 continuous miles on my 3-speed to be so easy.
I repaired the bike today. My plan was to bend the bolt back so I could get everything off and replace it. Since the original brake bolt was too stiff to bend back even with my longest set of channel locks, I used the angle grinder to cut it at the bend.
I went to the hardware store and a nice lady helped me find the size of my bolt and I brought home a couple suitable hardened-steel replacements. It's nice that this bolt is the common 1/4" diameter, 2 1/2" long type. I know that the original bolt had a groove in it with a matching keyed washer to keep it from rotating, but I lost both the nut and the washer in the accident. I chose a nylon locking nut to make sure the brakes wouldn't slowly turn the bolt loose. I was surprised that I could get the spring back on with my own two hands.
Before piecing the brakes back together, I used a Duplicolor paint pen that I also bought today to repair paint chips. It costed about as much as I spent on spray paint for the entire bike. As it turns out, the fender and fork didn't lose any paint from smacking each other repeatedly last night. I still used the paint pen to touch up a few chips from earlier and the repairs are remarkably invisible. The touch-up tube was so handy: it had a pen on the opposite side of the brush and on the bottom of the pen was a clear coat applicator. It also dried very quickly.
On a separate note, I re-registered my bike with the University of Michigan Police to help prevent theft or permanent loss. I did do this last year but had to take the tags off before restoration. I'll also be registering it with the city of Ann Arbor as soon as I get back in town for school. I'd encourage anyone who cycles for transportation to register their bike with the city/cities through which it travels, especially since I lost another bike to theft earlier this summer.