i don't really like cars. not just because they have a tendency to pull out in front of you as you freewheel at 25mph down main street, or because the battery dies just as you're about to collect someone you promised a lift to on a dark rainy night, but because there are just sooooo many things that can go wrong and which usually do.
i will admit to having had bikes in for repair over the year which seem to be emulating their four wheel cousins just a bit too closely, but my general point is that it's much easier to track a problem and fix it on a bike. and unlike many cars nowadays, they seem to be more robust, or at least the better components seem to be.
witness the colnago sitting patiently in the bike shed (it's absolutely hissing down outside). and while one would like to give the impression that museeuw and myself have the same constitution and tenacity, that's not to say it's true on a wet sunday afternoon. embarrassing though it is to admit, from one so well versed in zen and the art of cycle maintenance, the brake and gear cables haven't been changed since they were fitted to the bike in 1998. this could be seen as an excellent advertisement for my skills as a cycle mechanic, but to be honest, it's more of a reflection on the quality of the componentry et al that issues from vicenza.
however, we have been plagued with the usual wet, damp weather over here mixed with argyll and bute's road grit, and bits have started functioning less and less efficiently, despite my best efforts to persuade them otherwise. so now they will have to be replaced. and my palm pilot beeped the other day to remind me that it is time for the bi-annual chain replacement procedure. despite the rohloff chain wear guide showing nothing too amiss, last time i missed the appointed date, i had to replace the innner ring along with the chain - so i don't intend to let that happen again.
so even though ergopower levers make cable replacement a bit more than the five minute chore that it used to be on downtube levers, it's still a darned sight easier to do that replace a gasket on the distributor shaft where it enters the engine block. even for a trained motor mechanic.
and when it comes to re-using bits, cycles are tops. late last year the mrs decreed that it was time to get rid of all the potato crisped wheels sitting next to the bike shed. in the process of chucking them into the boot (trunk) of the aforementioned car, i found that one of them was built on a campagnolo hub, complete with qr skewer. the rim was trashed, but the hub seemed ok. so the hub was cut out of the rim, stripped down (not a mark on the bearing surface, and this isn't a new hub we're talking about), cleaned out, bearings replaced along with nice fresh, white lithium grease, and built into a new wheel. all on the damp sunday morning/afternoon that is still going on in the background. can you do that with a volkswagen (you probably can, but i don't know how to do that, so it doesn't count)?
the worrying part is that, despite the relative simplicity of the modern bicycle and its components, nobody seems to take the time or trouble to keep them running in tip top condition. most folks seem to pop the motor into the garage as frequently as necessary despite the number heavy bill that usually arrives sooner rather than later. bikes usually only get seen to when they lose the ability to move in a forward direction.
there's one of those appalling full suspension thingies sitting outside even as we read, which was deposited because the rear mech had been trashed and forward motion was no longer an option. after replacing with a new gear mech, i discovered that the rear wheel has loose cones, but the locknut and cone are seized solid.
despite standing on the 17mm spanner, neither would budge, and unfortunately the rear wheel still has a cone problem. and so has the rear brake. due to the rather convoluted cable routing demanded by a separate rear triangle that needs to bounce up and down, the cable has refrained from its mission in life to pull the v-brakes in towards the rim.
now neither of the latter have occurred in the week that the bike has spent in my temporary care, so one has to assume that these were not regarded as serious enough to warrant being fixed.
last week i was invited to one of the local primary schools to talk to the pupils about cycle safety, and in particular, the braking system. while i don't think the suspension thingy belonged to one of those i addressed, it concerns me that one brake out of two not functioning was regarded as of little concern.
because if we return to my opening statement about cars pulling out while freewheeling down main street, pulling on the brakes and only the front one working, results in the gardeners favourite. a face plant.
i have been asked to add the following link to the post by wheelygoodcause. they're a cycling club dedicated to arranging epic rides for charity and do not charge charities for the pleasure. They ride because they want to, and the next ride takes them from st malo to biarittz and then across the raid pyrenees. so i have. and here it is.
Remember, you can still read the review of 'the dancing chain' the utterly excellent book on the history of the derailleur bicycle by clicking here
any of the books reviewed on the washing machine post can probably be purchased from amazon.co.uk or amazon.com
as always, if you have any comments on this nonsense, please feel free to e-mail and thanks for reading.
this column almost never appears in the dead tree version of the ileach but appears, regular as clockwork on this website every two weeks. (ok so i lied) sometimes there are bits added in between times, but it all adds to the excitement.
on a completely unrelated topic, ie nothing to do with bicycles, every aspect of the washing machine post was created on apple macintosh powerbook g4, ibook and imac computers, using adobe golive 5 and adobe photoshop 7. needless to say it is also best viewed on an apple macintosh computer.