Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The jab of frayed wire into my fingers reminded me that I had forgotten to replace my own rear shift cable before setting out for home an hour after closing time.

Having taken Saturday off to try to sell some cartoon work at the town's summer celebration and craft sale, I'd missed a day on which no repair work got done, and more was checked in.

Wednesday, the other mechanic didn't show up at all, because he'd stuffed it on his mountain bike the evening before, dislocating his shoulder and bruising a kidney so badly he was passing blood. We only found this out late in the afternoon when he finally called in after he got out of the hospital.

Health care in America: He went to the local hospital, blocks from his home, when he woke up at 4:30 a.m., racked with pain and painting the toilet red. Because he gets his care through the Veterans' Administration, the locals couldn't treat him. He had to drive two hours to Manchester. Good thing Marines are tough.

He was back at work on Sunday. But that left me digging out from the pile of rush jobs, starting with the Sewer Bike.

Racer X and the Sewer Bike

Racer X, well over six feet tall and 200 pounds, had crushed the down tube on his Jamis Dakar in a crash within days, maybe hours, of having some urgent work done last weekend. The cracked bike, half-stripped, hung waiting for me beside the Specialized Epic frame shipped in overnight to receive whatever organs could be transplanted. And hurry! Racer X leaves for the next Big Event tomorrow morning.

A new front derailleur hung on it, because the seat tube is a different diameter. But no one had noticed that the Jamis had an integrated headset and the new Specialized took a conventional one.

Pretty funny how the technoweenies have decided to stick the headset bearings inside the frame and move the crank bearings outside. How did we ever ride before?

I was able to appropriate a headset from a slightly less rushy job and order a new one, fast freight, to replace it.

When I pried the bottom bracket out of the old frame, the inside of the BB shell looked like a sewer pipe. A medium-sized turd's worth of brown glop flowed sluggishly out when I extracted the bearing unit. The smell that followed made me wonder what sort of sewage plant enduro this guy had been riding. We joke about bikes made of drain pipe, but we mean new pipe, not used.

Maybe he rides like crap. Or maybe, in the extreme of athletic agony, he...

I was glad to leave the old frame to dry, its stench dwindling as the brown faded to an ambiguous tan.

Fortunately, I was able to transfer the hydraulic disc brakes over without opening the brake lines.

I did take a 45-minute break to go get a crown put on one of molars. Then I went back to work until almost 7 p.m. I set out on the fixed gear in drizzle and premature dusk after discovering that the front derailleur ordered for the bike wouldn't work because it's that idiotic top-swing design. The clamp sat too low to clear the weld for the rear swingarm. I had to scavenge a traditional-swing derailleur off a bike on the sales floor.

I was back in the shop just after 07:00 on Thursday. I'd hitched a lift with my wife, who had to be at the dentist at 7, oddly enough. I rode from his office down to the shop to start in on Racer X's bike again. I had it ready just after 9.

I was supposed to ride 25 miles to Gilford after work, to retrieve the Ford from the mechanic, but the rain had intensified rather than moving out, so I let myself be talked into taking the trip in the car instead. Funny how I feel like less of a man when I don't ride, but the motoring public thinks I'm less of one because I do. No matter. I choked down the humiliation in the interest of efficiency and the pleasure of my wife's company.

I still haven't assembled my new BOB trailer. No time. It's been at the shop for more than a week.

Friday was another fixed gear day. Saturday I only rode from the car park to my craft sale tent and back. So Sunday morning I set out on the Surly again and first felt the sting of fraying cable.

Sunday evening, Monday morning, still I nursed that cable as the schedule kept me moving. I rode the bike to a conservation commission work session, shifting gingerly. I carry a cable with me. I've changed it along the roadside before. The press of business just jostled me along relentlessly.

I'd rather change a cable than fix a flat.

It's all ready to go, now. And I heard about an hour ago that the repair shop is completely in the weeds.

I miss Ralph.


Anonymous said...

I read the whole post, made me laugh and cry, but all I remember now is

"The jab of frayed wire into my fingers reminded me that ... I miss Ralph"

I miss you too man.

cafiend said...

Yeah, buddy...