Saturday, April 30, 2011

I spoil myself again

I bought myself a natty Gilles Berthoud handlebar bag as a birthday present last week to match the little panniers I bought a while back. (Bless the strong Australian dollar and Internet shopping.) After using a handlebar bag so successfully on my tour last year I decided I'd spend the money to buy a bag which would enable me to stash things like arm warmers and beanies while on the go and having easy access to snacks and camera et cetera. I was keen on the Berthoud because it sits low - below the level of the handlebar - unlike the Topeak bag I was using.

The Berthoud bag hasn't disappointed: it looks a million dollars and sits nicely on my Nitto front rack. It is certainly commodious. I did have to relocate my headlight onto the rack, but that was no big deal.

I have a a cold at the moment and I'm unable to ride beyond short jaunts up and down the driveway. Perhaps tomorrow I'll take if for a test on the rough roads between here and town. The only drawback with such a nice piece of kit is that all that French elegance makes the Crosscheck look a little shabby. Perhaps a new frame is in order. With the Australian dollar doing so well, it's certainly being considered.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Sometimes it's the little things.

I'd planned with Bicycle Tim and Benny to go for a ride on Saturday morning and for some reason was really looking forward to riding the Bianchi. After commuting on the Crosscheck all week the red racer makes a nice change of pace, so I was up early, switching the lightweight tyres for something more durable before I put the bike in the car for the quick trip into town.

Once there and unloaded, it only took a dozen pedal strokes to realise something was badly wrong with the gears. The right brifter was all, well mushy, and the gears at first changed sluggishly and then jammed. Bugger. It didn't take long to figure out the rear gear cable had snapped.

I've heard of this happening, but I've never experienced it myself: the cable had broken inside the shifter about an inch from the nipple and my attempts to change gears had only succeeded in winding the frayed remains further inside the mechanism. It looked to me like my plans for a ride were over.

Hoping Tim might arrive shortly with a spare cable (he did!) I unwrapped the double thickness of bar tape and took the lever off. There followed an hour or fiddling with improvised tools before I was finally able to coax the cable end out. Five minutes later, I was good to go, and we had an extremely pleasant 60km ride with a coffee stop in Cygnet. 

It was a bastard of a repair job and would have been almost impossible to do by the roadside, almost but not quite enough to drive a man back into the arms of simple, old fashioned and ever-reliable friction shifting. How close must this cable have been to failing during the entire Oppy? It had literally two or three more shifts left in it, finally giving way in the next 200 metres I rode. How lucky was I not to DNF because of a dozen strands of cheap wire?  Here's a photo of what is possibly the smallest thing that nearly ruined a Saturday for me:

Guess who will be making a point of inspecting and changing his cables more regularly now? And carrying a spare!

1690km so far this year.