11 May 2009
Arse of bike maintenance III: I never learn...
"This is my father's hammer. The head was replaced once, and the handle six times"
Old chinese proverb (or was it Polish? Australian? Who cares!)
When I first bought my bike, back in July 2006, I knew very little about bicycle maintenance. Strewth! It's not something I'd ever bothered with as a child - much as I spent idyllic summers on the saddle, worn chains and shot bearings were not an issue you worried about. Thirty years and 80Kg later, I know more but do almost as much - very little.
By the time I started practising to do the C2C for the first time, in early 2008, my gears were slipping so badly I had to be careful to start any pedalling very slowly. Needless to say, I paid for my lack of care, in cash - the good people of the Bicycle Boutique restored my bike for almost the amount of money I paid for it in the first place! Add kevlar tyres (bought from Prestwich's "Bike Factory Shop" - where I got my Tourismo from) and I'd invested quite a bit on the old thing.
Come last October, I had to do it all again - well, almost. New chain etc. To be honest, my bike worked a treat after this. But how many times did I clean and lubricate my bike between late October and now? Twice. And by 'lubricating' I mean only the chain - greasing hubs and stuff like that are simply beyond my poor skills.
So, should I be surprised when, having taking the bike to the Bicycle Boutique again, the bill came to an eye-watering £99? I guess not. I was shown the chain and cogs - which I myself never inspect, precisely so as not to be burdened by guilt - and they were visibly worn.
Special mention should go to the pedals, which I'd had since October 2006 and which I never ever lubricated - they had more play in them than my car's gear stick. I did consider not having the work done until after the C2C ride - after all, this is the bike I've been riding to work and back, 14 miles at least 3 times a week. Why would it break just because I'm cycling 150 miles in a weekend, including steady climbs over the Pennines? Why indeed... so on reflection I chose to have the work done - and enjoy the ride.
Bicycle Boutique were as good as before - I did have to remind them to transfer my recently acquired toe-clips to the new pedals! But they are true cyclists' cyclists and know far more about bikes than I do - plus they are in the right place for me, and I still think they offer value for money.