Sunday, 7 March 2010

Swifty's bike is like Paddy's shovel, and a cure for insomnia.

At the beginning of the week we had seven adults' bicycles at Swifty Towers. Five, I look after, and are used for different types of cycling. (You don't actually need this many bikes, but you know how it is....).

The sixth bike is my daily workhorse, and the seventh is the sixth's twin. The first five are maintained so that they are reliable when chosen, but six is the most used, gets lots of misuse and receives no TLC. Whatever the weather, I use bike six; and with its chain guard, hub gears and simplicity, it doesn't ask for much attention. Since I last serviced Bike Six I've done the same mileage as four Tours de France, and the pros are only half the weight of me, my bike and luggage.

(The next paragraph is fascinating only to people like me, and if you are a regular person it will send you to sleep, no matter how alert you were before reading so far. So if you want to cure insomnia read on, otherwise skip the long paragraph, and read the short summary after it. Back to the story of bike six maintenance.....)

But six has been clanking ominously for over a year, the chain had started jumping, and it had become so bad that I had to act. First, I gave the chain a good oiling, then I moved the wheel back to take up the slack. I then found that I had five broken spokes (yet it was still plenty true enough to ride) and I had no spare spokes to fit, so I swapped with the wheel from bike number seven. Then I had to change the tyre and inner tube. The chain was still jumping, so I scrapped six's worn chain, and used seven's. But I couldn't get the tension constant, so I checked the bottom bracket, and found it extremely worn, even by my "let's get the last scrape of marmite from the jar" standards . At this point I decided it would be easier to jump horses and use frame seven and its chainwheel, axle etc. So more stuff was transferred, including pedals. But one of seven's cranks was slightly bent, so I used one of six's. Then I had to get seven's brakes working, the lighting moved from frame six to seven, and the panniers moved over too. So what started as an oiling of the chain became an all-day epic, especially as the test ride showed that bikes 6 and 7 weren't quite twins, as one crank caught on the frame's chain stay. Hitting the frame with a hammer at exactly the right point to make a tiny dent in the tube, we now have a fully functioning bike.

So what was expected to be half an hour's maintenance, turned out to be a day's tinkering, and bikes six and seven are now one. Yes, we were all at sixes and sevens. Bike six has had so many changed parts it's like paddy's shovel, with almost nothing original. And the bike collection's size after today? Now we are six.

A small pile of scrap parts, and a "new" workhorse, now in service and likely to be left to fend for itself for several years. It feels good to have had the last miles out of the old steed; hopefully there's many more miles left in the rider....


  1. Hullo from snowy Aviemore Senor Swifty,

    You should check out Coast Kids blog via my site - he's a real bike nut too!

    After reading this I'm a bit confused - are you riding six, or seven, or is it now a kind of Frankensteins' 'monshter'?

    reminds me too of the story of my trusty axe - very old, it used to belong to George Washington. Over time I've replaced the head and the shaft...............


  2. Hi Al,glad to hear from you from Aviemore. Yes, my blog was a bit confusing, so I've revisited it and put in a couple of mildly funnies. When telling my tale of spanners, spokes and chains I forgot that my blogging is supposed to be part of the entertainment industry.



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