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End of the year: the wheel turns, sort of

31 December 2011

Holiday time, that’s good.

I’m having a compulsory 2 week Christmas break from my labours. Frankly working 6 long days a week in the heat is a pain, after 4 weeks it’s magnificent to be not.

Plenty enough for me to occupy my time with this website, the helpful cycle trails Australia, adding a few recently acquainted trails, rewriting, embellishing, adding some social links, etc. Just debating whether I should collate all the stray information about the Canning Stock Route even though I’ll never traverse it, guess I have to now.

What else can you do when it’s a cloudless 41°C outside, not as bad as it sounds, unless you hang out the washing in bare feet, the humidity is single digits, like 5%, ie, the dewpoint for those interested around -7°C, but it does tend to stifle contemplation of any major outdoor activity.

Another impediment to motion, not so much mind but matter, is the state of my long suffering bike. She’s in bits, only two actually, the bulk lassoed out the back to a strong structural member, the rear wheel at the doctor, the hub seized a few weeks ago while riding home from work.

I was happy enough walking while living close to town, it’s a much maligned means of transportation, not much used in this town of pot guts and smokers, a bit of a novelty initially, but now I don’t have those wheels and my proximity to anything useful in this town has expanded logarithmically, then, well, you can have too much of a good thing.

It might simply have been a case of replacing pitted cones, ball bearings no longer in the ball shape, etc, it appears the smaller 3/16th ball bearings of the XT required a higher level of maintenance than I subjected them to, ie, none. The rubber seals, dirt roads and lack of grease combined for the obvious result, ie, despair, but on the other hand it had the decency to decombust in a major, OK, minor town, ie, one with a bike shop specialising in mountain bikes. I attempted a look at the internals, 2 × 5mm Allen keys got me part way but the unique cones need both 15 and 17?mm cone spanners to delve deeper. One of the deciding issues: out here obscure replacement parts are in the same vicinity of cost as a complete new hub.

I researched the radical alternative of swapping to the DT Swiss sealed bearing hub, sounded a great idea at the time. The 240 cruises in at $440 and then you need new spokes and a $200 specialised tool for replacing the bearings, but it only comes in a 32 hole version. Made sense, or should I say dollars, if I was building a new wheel but not after spending a motza on the mighty 36 hole Rigida rims in Perth.

Ultimately from the x n possible options I’ve plugged for replacing the not-so-easy-to-service XT hub with the SLX, ie, Shimano’s touring version, standard 1/4 inch ball bearings, similar to the ever popular LX, able, and will be, self serviced at more regular intervals, ie, at least every second day for the first week or so. Remember GJ, grease is the word. Same hub diameter equals same spokes. And I can refurbish the old XT hub with parts from the internet to give me something else redundant to lug along.

In the end I’ll be bikeless for over a month all things going well in the repair department of the local, at the moment nameless, bikeshop. Sadly they couldn’t provide me with even a sad old replacement 26” wheel to whizz around town during the Christmas shutdown period hence the long distance daily legwork, 35 minutes each way, into town to relieve some boredom, stock up with carry on supplies, etc.

Let’s hope this is a truncated short story with an ending leaving everyone grinning, not one of those with twists and turns, able to provide sustenance for a month of blogs with the repetition of a you’re-not-going-to-believe-this type story.

The pressure is on, can they deliver?