Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bicycle Maintenance 911

Having completely destroyed my bike at the recent Michaux 50 I had some work ahead of me in anticipation of the spring 2007 Grizvitational in Rothrock State Forest. What better time than the Friday night before a Saturday five hour ride to rebuild your bike? In the interest of full disclosure, during the intervening week, I drained my PayPal account ordering everything that could possibly be needed for the rebuild including: bottom bracket, cables & housing, grips, brake pads, pedals, lube, cleaners, and tubes - I even washed it.
So last Friday, the 18th, after arriving home late from work and seeing Michele, Thomas, and Henry off for a weekend with the Fisher family in Annapolis; I began the reassembly of my Moots. While many cyclists derive great enjoyment, even pleasure, from working on, building, fine-tuning, and tweaking their bikes - I am not one of them. For me, this is pure work and I put it off as long as possible.

Grips first, adjust the levers and shifters, so far so good; then, BLAM! I break off the aluminum screw that holds on my deraileur hanger. It broke off so there isn't anything to grab onto to remove the remaining piece stuck in the threads. I call my friend Chuck and pray that he is home. Chuck restores muscle cars, has a garage full of specialized tools, and is very adept mechanically. If he can't remove it - I hold little hope for others. After confirming that he is home, I throw the frame into my trunk and drive over to his house. He successfully removes the offending aluminum shard and after checking out his 'Cudas' I head back home.

As I turn onto King street, I can see my friend, Larry's Subaru wagon is parked in front of our house. This is a good sign, Larry is one of those riders who enjoys working on bikes and can help move things along. He is understandably a little nervous that it is pushing 10pm and my bike is still in pieces, but graciously agrees to help for a few minutes. We get the bottom bracket in, the new disc brake pads installed, drink a couple stouts, and agree on a departure time the next morning, 8:30am. I assure him that I will get some more work done after he leaves - I don't. As I go to install the non-drive side FSA carbon crankarm, it becomes apparent that it has delaminated and is totally shot. Hmmm, no other ISIS cranks in the house, my old Race Face square taper cranks use a 72mm BB shell and my Moots a 68mm, it appears that I am totally fooked. Wait! We have a late ride start in the morning because of turkey hunting season which ends at noon. My friend, Aaron, will be driving right by a bike shop on his way to the ride - there is still hope. I call Aaron and ask him if he would swing by and purchase a new set of carbon cranks on his way in - he says that he will try. After hitting that iceberg, my cruise liner was slowly sinking, the rescue boats had been notified, there was nothing left for me to do but clear the decks - so I packed up some junk and went to bed.

As you probably know, sleeping before any kind of big event is like trying to meditate during a Bob Hope telethon - always a struggle. Friday night, not knowing if I was going to be able to ride, it was especially tough. I awoke about an hour earlier than necessary so I went to the Butcher Shoppe to pick up some food, tanked up on gas, hit Starbucks, loaded the car, and waited for Larry to arrive. Larry pulled in on time and as we loaded his stuff into my car I broke the bad news about crankarm and explained my last ditch effort to salvage the weekend. He expressed amazement that none of my cables were even hooked up yet.

We drove to Rothrock on back roads through Huntingdon and Mifflin Counties. As we entered Big Valley (Amish Country) I received a call from Aaron. He was at Mt. Nittany Wheelworks in State College and they didn't have any high-end cranks in stock available for purchase. He put the owner, Frank, on and I explained the situation: FSA delamination, likely warranty issue, need cranks or at least a non-drive ISIS for a couple days. The reception was poor, breaking up, and alot of static; but as I hung up I was semi-confident that he understood the situation.

We stopped by an Amish roadside stand to purchase some moon pies, scallions, and Larry bought two whole pies. My goal had been to arrive at the Penn Roosevelt State Park at 11 am for a 12 noon ride start. Knowing that my bike needed some work and Aaron would be delayed by this bike shop diversion. R=D/T so T=D/R to decrease T one must increase R - so be it.

We pull into the parking lot at 11am. Folks are milling around, getting their gear together, and loading their bikes, their fully assembled bikes, onto their cars for the short shuttle to the Cooper's Gap ride start. It doesn't take long before they realize that Larry and I are somewhat distracted and that my bike is somewhat assembled. I explain the situation and that Aaron may be bringing the part I need. No-one is too annoyed, this is a resilient group of riders and we have all day to ride. Larry, Jamie, and I go to work on my bike setting the cables up. At this point, I am taking some good-natured ribbing for my lack of planning and maintenance ability, Jamie is working magic on my brake cables, and Larry has skillfully adjusted my rear deraileur. As he tighens the clamp on my front deraileur, he over torques it and breaks off the head of the screw. Again, the screw has broken off clean inside the threads, but this time Chuck is nowhere to be found.

I am trying to adjust to the idea of riding two five hour rides on a 1X9 as Aaron pulls in, and like mana from the gods, unveils a beautiful non-drive side Bontrager ISIS crankarm - I am saved. The 1x9 is no problem, I am in business now, screw it in, test drive, and I'm off to the Grizvitational.

Many kudos to Frank and the gang at Mt. Nittany Wheelworks in State College, they apparently took a crankarm off a bike in their shop to save my weekend. This is a great bike shop run by a great bunch of folks - well worth a visit anytime you are in State College.

1 comment:

kevin b said...

I still cant believe that bike worked so well for the entire ride