Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Trust Rust Follow-up

I was not in the shop the day Famous Coach picked up his corroded Seven. I understand he acknowledged that he had no stem bolt, but took the bike anyway to go ride some group tour. He should be required to wear a jersey that says, "Keep back 50 feet" or, "Destruction Vehicle. Do not follow."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

In Rust We Trust

A renowned coach in a sport other than cycling brought his bike in yesterday to have a few things done. He has a Seven Axiom, a drool road bike of the mid 1990s. And he has treated it like absolute crap.

I don't worry too much how someone treats their own bike unless they're tyring to ride with me and their mechanical problems are slowing us down or endangering me. But when I have to work on a bike as a professional I receive a certain level of responsibility whether I want it or not.

Titanium is notorious for welding itself to to other metals if not properly protected. The cable adjusters at the top of the down tube are permanently set because of this. But that's minor.

The Coach said his stem was corroded in place. I love a challenge, so I removed the black electrical tape he'd placed over the top of the stem to see if I could work some magic and restore some of the luster to this formerly enviable bike.

There is no stem bolt. The crowning glory of this tour de force of abuse and neglect is that The Coach trusts his facial bone structure, and perhaps his very life, to RUST. His Time carbon fork has a steel steerer, which has bonded to the alloy quill of the handlebar stem. In all likelihood, it will never budge. But no bolt at all? And he's using aero bars, putting further leverage on what started out as an undesired chemical reaction.

What rust hath joined, let no one put asunder. But 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. Think of that superfluous bolt as your pre-nup. If everything goes to hell, it will limit your losses.

What say we hacksaw that bad boy right off there and let you start fresh?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Time Flies

Between the last post and now I was working extra to get ready to go to a cartooning workshop in Vermont, and then going to it. I started out to be a cartoonist, not a bike racer or a mechanic. Forget the decades that have intervened. Forget the skinned knuckles, black fingernails, hours on my feet and widely varying levels of thanks. For three days all I had to think about was cartooning, in the company of people who know their craft.

It was great to find out that even with all my years in obscure isolation I can hang with the field in a bunch of cartoonists. I may be a little ragged, but I wasn't off the back. Clearly the Cat Ones in the bunch were the real professionals, but they weren't out to stomp us.

When I got back to the shop I was exceptionally aware how tedious it is to have to get through a day of work to get to your own time, when you can do what you really wanted to do with the day. And you only have a scrap of day left in which to do it.

I was planning to be Jef Mallet. I even thought of it first (1979). But he showed up with the goods, while I was off having some other weird life. It all gets used at some point. No one is really on Easy Street. Step one: stay alive. Steps two through whatever: like nuts and bolts in a drawer. Sort 'em, stack 'em, combine 'em, or just et 'em rust. Every day you have to make the best choices you can. Either way, the day ends and another one follows.