Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Trip Report Sunday 23 March: Part Two

I met Freddy and Gumbo back at the Best Western where he had been camping out and reading. Since he had already eaten lunch, I hit the mega What-a-burger drive through for lunch. Freddy kindly offered to drive while I ate my lunch.
"Bad: surfboard floating on the highway. Worse: on the highway at 60 mph." -- Yakima Website
Freddy had been driving on I-37 for some time when it happened. We were listening to The Drabblecast at the time.

Thwap. Thunk. Thwang. Thunk.

Freddy and I turned to look out the back simultaneously. My board, my JP Australia X-Cite Ride 145, was flying through the air behind us. Noooooooooooooooo....

As I yelled at Freddy to pull over, I considered the Yakima StrapThang. You know, I though, I always felt a little nervous about the design of that board strap. The Yakima rack itself rocks. They way it attaches and detaches from my Honda Element in seconds really impresses me. The rack always felt rock-solid too.

But consider the little rubber straps of the Yakima StrapThang. They were very convenient, sure. You just put the board on the rack pads, throw the two straps over the top, and hook them over the end of the crossbar. Attaching a board only took seconds.

But would they hold up? When I got the straps about six months ago, I must have fallen for the bold marketing. Surely they wouldn't joke about surfboards smashed on the highway if they had any doubts about their product. Right?

Despite this, I was always careful to remove the rack from my car when it wasn't in use. I didn't want sunlight to weaken the straps. Likewise, I was careful to always take a look at the straps when I attached the surfboard. Despite my care, my board just soared down I-37. It had been lying undisturbed on the rack for hours of highway driving. Now it just flew off.

Once Freddy managed to safely pull over, I sat for a few seconds cursing up a storm. I pocketed my cell phone and ran across I-37.

As I walked along the median, I contemplated my board. Would it be totaled? More cursing. Maybe it landed in the grass. Or maybe a semi ran it over. My stomach sank.

As I crested a hill, I saw it laying on the shoulder about 100 yards away. In a panic, I started running. Could it be in one piece? Would it be possible to fix? I cursed the gods of roof racks.

As I passed a broken chunk of StrapThang, I scooped it up. Grrrr. Dumb expensive piece of garbage. I laughed insanely as my stomach churned.

Finally I reached the board itself. I couldn't believe my luck. It was in one piece. Yes, there were scrapes, dings, missing paint, and a few large holes. Some of the holes even exposed the foam core of the board.

But one piece. And nothing had run it over! Somehow it stayed in one piece even after surfing down the highway at 70 MPH. It even landed on the grooved pavement shoulder. JP Australia: you rock.

I tied the StrapThang piece to a board strap to use as a handle -- not that I trusted it. I lifted the board and started the long walk back to my car.

I suddenly felt foot shy in my ancient Teva sandals. Might I discover some dangerous critters with my tender toes? I wasn't sure which I was more afraid of -- an infested median or slaloming tractor trailers. Another curse to my failed StrapThang. I watched my toes and dodged trucks as I plodded back along I-37.

I finally saw my car again, and raced across the highway carrying my unwieldy load. As I approached, I thanked my lucky stars for buying a car with enough interior space to hold my board. I did not look forward to the cramped ride home.

At the car, Freddy helped me lift the board into the car. We placed the board alongside the passenger seat, nose down. Gumbo growled. He didn't appreciate the idea. I used some bungees and fragments of the self-destroyed StrapThang to anchor the board.

Freddy volunteered to ride under the damaged board. The adventure apparently had reduced his enthusiasm for driving. We both cursed Yakima for good measure, and I hopped in the driver's side. Freddy reclined beneath the board.

As I started the engine, my cell phone rang. Jason. Just as I opened the phone, he hung up. Simultaneously, his car pulled onto the shoulder ahead of us. He came running out to ask what happened.

We told Jason that we weren't hurt -- just terrified. We gave him a brief overview of the story, but declined to go into details. We were still too jittery to really want to talk on the shoulder of the road. We just wanted to get back to Austin. Jason wished us well, and we both started on our way back to Austin.

Freddy and I listed to Car Talk to calm our nerves. I occasionally laughed like a maniac at what a miracle it was nobody was hurt. Even if my board is totaled, I'm quite relieved the damage was limited to stuff. The only injuries were to the board, the StrapThang, and a small area on the roof of my car.

None of us had further adventures on the way home. Thank goodness!


dmlandry said...

Um. Crap.

WindAddict said...

You're telling me!

dmlandry said...

So, does Yakima have some sort of product warranty or limitation of liability that provides recourse (can you tell that I've been dealing with lawyers)?

Your description certainly sounds more like a manufacturer defect than an improperly affixed board!

Every time I mount our bikes on the roof of the Audi, I drive on egg shells imaging the sight of a mountain bike tumbling end over end right off the back of the car.

And now it's not just idle speculation!

WindAddict said...

Yakima does have a warranty. Part of it reads:


Their remedy seems to be a replacement of the StrapThang, a refund of the StrapThang purchase price, or a credit towards another Yakima product. Of course, that's only if they decide the StrapThang is defective.

Do the capital letters mean they won't replace my board?

WindAddict said...

You can see images of the failed Yakima StrapThang here.

WindAddict said...

You can read about a similar Yakima StrapThang failure here.

Unknown said...

EXACT SAME THING HAPPENED TO ME last Sunday the 29th! Just bought a brand new longboard in Dana Point. 30 miles up the 405, at 65 mph, the strap broke the same way yours did in the picture. Brand new, unwaxed $1000 longboard goes flying. Thank God it was in a board bag. $200 in dings. Could have been much worse. Could have killed someone it it had flown into traffic. I called Yakima immediately. They are processing my claim. In the meantime, they sent me some new, stronger straps for free. They wanted to send me a new strapthang and I told them I would NEVER use it again.