The seeds of my upcoming EuroVelo and WWOOFing cycle touring adventure, were sown in early 2010. As with most things I do, once I had the idea in my head, I began acting upon it. The first thing I did was research and purchase pannier racks and panniers. They duly arrived and as with any new purchase the first thing you want to do is try them out. Firstly, I set up and fitted the front pannier rack. All was going well so far. Then I turned my attention to the rear pannier rack and that's when the problems began...
When unscrewing one of the rack mounts on the seat stay the fixing began to rotate in the frame! The bolt had never been taken out before and had become seized. When I attempted to unscrew it, the frame mount gave way before the bolt. Bugger! My non-existent knowledge of bike manufacture lead me to the assumption that it should be "simple enough to fix, surely", so I was not overly concerned at that stage. A little frustrated, yes, but the new non-materialistic attitude I was trying to instill into my personality, allowed me to not worry about it too much. As the problem had occurred due to a lack of more frequent care and attention on my part, I decided to strip and clean the bike thoroughly the next weekend.
|Not the rack mount that broke but an example of the bolt screwed into the frame mount|
|The pesky barrel adjuster|
A few days later I was discussing the problems with a friend who was also my handy bike maintenance guy, so I took the frame along for him to have a look at. He was also going to give me a masterclass in setting up gears and fine tuning brakes etc. In all my years with bikes, I had still not mastered setting these things up and just left them to the bike shop when I took a bike in for a service or parts upgrade. As I was thinking about cycle touring though, I figured it was high time I learned how to do them myself.
The service lesson was underway. All new cables were prepared. First we did the brakes. That was relatively simple. I had always wondered what the little adjustment screws at the side of the brakes were for :) I should point out, at this time, the extent of my cycle maintenance ability was basically washing my bike! I could take off and dismantle the chainset and cassette for cleaning and reassemble them easily but the derailleurs and brakes were left well alone. I'd could also replace the brake pads but only when the limit was reached on the lever adjustment and I had grown tired of the grinding noise that would occur every time I applied the brakes. I was a bad bicycle owner it was safe to say!
Next up was the rear derailleur. It turns out that curious knob on the back of the derailleur actually has a purpose! Who'd've thought?!? So that's what a barrel adjuster is! I would now be able to adjust this myself. A revelation! Until now, whenever the rear cassette would not get into a certain gear or began clunking in certain places, I just chose another gear. And to think I had the cheek to call myself a cyclist! That was pretty much all my relationship with the bike was, I just cycled it!
We moved onto the front derailleur. This was going to be problematic though because of the broken barrel adjuster. Gripping the protruding bit with some pliers, we tried to twist out the seized up but. But to no avail. All we actually ended up doing was mashing it up so bad that a cable could no longer pass through the hole in it! But my friend had a plan. He could drill it out. Out came the drill. Two snapped off drill bits later, out came the Dremel. This had to work as it was our last chance because both drill bits had snapped off inside the seized up bit in the frame. It didn't work. Bugger!
My only option now, I thought, was the bike shop. I took it into the shop where I'd bought it and they said they'd attempt the repairs. It stayed with them for the next three months. Fortnightly phone calls to them became weekly phone calls. Eventually they admitted they could not repair it. Now what? They suggested showing it to an engineer as they would have more specialist machinery. I tried a couple in Dublin but none really instilled me with much confidence. Then I got made redundant.
Not long after moving back to England I was put in touch with a local engineer, who, I was told could "fix anything". I had nothing to lose. So I went to see him. "No problem", he said "I'll just drill that bit out", "I'll re-tap that" and "I can machine some of those". Excellent!
So finally, it was repaired. Not the prettiest of repairs in the world but repaired nonetheless and working the way it should once again.
|My drilled out, aluminium filled and re-taped rack mount|
|And my unique, custom built barrel adjusters|
|Brand new hubs and spokes on brand new 36 hole rims, built by myself I hasten to add ;)|
|Anti-seize on the freehub before installing the cassette|
|My impromptu work stand|
|Chainset on first|
|On go the brakes|
|And the wheels and tyres|
|Old bar tape stripped off and handlebars cleaned|
|Levers on, brakes and gears set up, new bar tape on|
So here she is in all her current glory. Not quite the pristine item that left the bike shop in Dublin almost 5 years ago, but up and running once again. Battered and bruised but hopefully fit enough to take me to all the places she still wants to show me. She had better be too! After all, she's got to carry me and about 50% of everything I now own around Europe for the foreseeable future.
I wonder what our future life together has in store for us...
Oh, and one final point. USE ANTI-SEIZE!