First fix of spring

Hello you lovely people. Today I’m going to write about one thing that will most likely be a constant in all of our meanderings in the Andes… bicycle repair!

I took ol’ reliable out of the shed last week, after a few weeks in there. A few too many weeks honestly. I don’t think it was the best winter to try out winter cycling. But I did anyways: tried that is. I tried and I failed, because I feared. I was scared of the ice and snow and rain, even though I did have those awesome winter tyres. Is it going to freeze, has that car back there seen me, will I plummet to my death as a descent this slope? Plus the conditions were just brutal on my cycle: sometimes I would pedal and there would be no grip in the chain, it just spun round and around (I later learned this was my free-wheel), then it would “grip” again unexpectedly, and the chain got all nice and rusty-red even though I did grease it (a bit…). Top that off with my foot injury, and there you have it, winter is on its way out and I’ve done only JUST enough winter cycling to a. figure out that I don’t really like it because I’m scared and have bad instincts, and b. to screw up my chain, gears, back wheel and free-wheel system. Hurrah!

So last Wednesday was a lovely day of proto-springishness. So I braved the streets of putrefied melting garbage and rotting snow to cycle my way to work. But same problem as usual. My freewheel stopped functioning, right when I was just far enough for it not to be worth it to go back… Thankfully, I was able to get an appointment that very afternoon to see an expert at MEC’s cycling desk. Thank the gods!

Marc-Antoine and I had thought it was a toss-up. Keep the crap gears ‘till May/June in order to avoid the rest of the melting and saltiness of the roads of March and April, implying just a “quick-fix” solution to the present problem. Or replace all that needs replacing right away in order to be able to have my bike in working order right away, implying going to re-visit the bike shop before leaving in order to have a Tune-Up, which means spending more money, but being able to bike to and from work for the next 3 months (which saves 75$ a month…) I was hoping more along the lines of the last option, because I not only really missed biking, but also figured that on any given year in the last 8 years, I would have taken my bike out in March and April anyways…

So what did my cycling-guru say? He kind of looked at my bike with its pumpkin-colored gears with a blank expression as I explained that it wasn’t working. “Yeah, we’re going to have to change all of that.” So it was decided, without an if or a but. Well, not exactly, I mean Brock was really helpful as I explained our plans for the summer and the excess-load I would be taking on my bike and the usage I wanted to put my bike through, he answered all my questions to the best of his abilities. Oh, AND he fixed up my bike straight-away. I was completely taken unawares! I was sure it was going to stay there for a week! Yay!

So what he did is:

  1. Change my whole back wheel because the current one (though less than a year old!) was all rusted and a spoke was broken and it wasn’t really possible to fix it. Same will have to be done with my front wheel soon, but I’ll wait ‘till right before going because it’s still usable for the moment.
  2. Change my chain – a no brainer
  3. Change my back gear-system, including the free-wheel system. There must be a name for that. Oh well
  4. Helped me pick out front-loading pannier racks that will fit on my bike, which has front suspension.

 Total cost: 175$ including the handiwork

 So now, its all happy! So far so good, a week later. I’m going to have to change the front wheel, and the two tyres before flying to Quito. We’re looking to each buy some Schwalbe Marathons.

Marc-Antoine is going to write more about some technical gear soon I believe.


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