It’s been a funny old couple of weeks.
I started cycling to work to try and maintain some fitness and avoid having to have the front door widened. It was begrudgingly, unwillingly, and ungraciously done. But necessary, so I set to it.
It wasn’t as terrible as I remembered. Obviously the weather turned cold immediately. Because of course it did.
Within a few days of cycling I was going for commute Personal Bests, then, following my usual, somewhat exhausting, obsessive pattern, I had a whim for a faster bike. The next day I wanted a faster bike. Then I spent a week constantly searching the internet because I *HAD TO HAVE* a faster bike. I was looking at second hand bikes in my (budget) price bracket, reading the reviews, checking the brand sizes, the equipment spec, etc, etc. The curse of the internet is as soon as you start researching anything the reviews always say “that’s OK, but this one (3 times the price) is way better. And what you really want is the this one (over a grand dearer)”
I am thinking of maybe getting back on a turbo trainer and renewing my torture sessions on the Sufferfest (the online cycling thing) so I wanted a bike with a 9 speed minimum back cog. Basically the only game in town was the Decathlon (sports store) own brand Btwin Triban range. They are not as low a riding position as dedicated road/ racer bikes, but they are good spec and cheap.
I was looking at the basic Triban 5, which is about a year 2000 or so bike, so there’s a risk of stuff being worn out. I actually had one lined up but the guy who was selling it was taking at least a day to reply to each of my questions, and couldn’t arrange a viewing. While that was all happening I came across a Triban 520, which is a much better bike and they only started making them in 2016 (I think) so a lot newer. The Triban 5 was going for £150, the 520 was going for £270 but it had an option for offers. I put in an offer for £240 and got it! Yay! When I was looking on eBay the other 520s were over £100 dearer. Also, it’s hard to get a bike in my size. I take a small or XS, they are definitely the exception to the norm.
Anyway, I got it. It took me an hour to sort out the slack brakes, adjust the seat and handlebars, reposition the gear lever/ brake and pump up the tyres. I noticed a bit of a buckle in the back wheel and the handlebar tape was a bit of a shoddy job on one side. I got the wheel straightened and bars re-taped the next day for £17. Job’s a good ‘un.
Actually, that was before I had the handlebars rewrapped. He’s done it all in black, but at least it’s a decent job now. The thing I don’t like is it still feels too upright.
That was the compromise. Buy the cheaper Triban and get a “comfortable” riding position bike. I’ve ordered a longer stem which will push the handlebars another two inches forward. That should sort it. That’s the bike with the new tape, by the way.
To clarify, the reason I didn’t want to buy the much better bikes is I still only want to commute, and at some point get on the Sufferfest, a super-duper road bike would be overkill for that. And, let’s face it, bicycles are all about the engine. And mine ain’t worth a carrot. I had a £2.3K full-on triathlon bike and I was still slow and rubbish. A decent bike can’t fix that. As Eddie Mercx said, “Don’t buy upgrades, ride up grades.” Also, this is just me obsessing while I’m trying to recover from running injury. As soon as I’m running I won’t have the time or the inclination for pushbiking.
Another expense and hassle this week was the washer dying. I had to go and get a new one from Argos. The guy had a sack barrow so wheeled it out to the car and helped me lift it in. I had to get it out, drag it through the house, shove it in it’s hole, then drag the old one out, lift it into the car and get it out at the tip all on my own. The tip guy had a sack barrow, so he got rid of it really easy. I am *so* getting a sack barrow before I next hump some awkward big lump.
To add to the unnecessary expenses (OK, necessary, but not fun) I was getting out of my truck the other day and dropped my ‘phone from about 8’ up. Onto concrete. It has a rubber back thing on it, which saved it from smashing to pieces, but it has shattered my screen. On the bright side, I dropped it a few weeks earlier as well and cracked the bottom of the screen. At least I didn’t replace it then. I would have been a bit miffed paying twice. I need to tie it round my neck on a piece of string, like a kid’s mittens.
The big news though, is I’ve finally got there. There is nothing left to strip!
It was a massive faff, but I’ve split the cases and removed the gears and crank. As you can see I’ve found all the bits of smashed piston.
When I started cleaning up the crankcases prior to rebuild I noticed this.
That looks like a serious crack to me, but I’ve asked some of my Twitter engineer people and they say it could be a casting imperfection, don’t sweat it. I’ve got to strip my spares engine down so I’ll compare. I might just use the spares engine crankcase.
The only other news is the plague weakness is back again. Not sustained like the fortnight bout, but less than great. It makes you think you’ll never get properly better. Worse, Wendy has had a bad recurrence. We thought she was over it. Meh. Some virologist on Twitter was saying he’s had the plague, but he also had some other foul bug, and the effects of that wasted him for 9 months. Which: A, gives me hope this could end, at some point. And B, makes me wonder if virology was actually the ideal career choice.
Talking of Twitter, here’s a few tweets:
Boris Johnson announced that people were to be restricted to meetings of groups of six as, inexplicably, the governments policy of pubs and restaurants being opened with no need for masks, forcing people back to work, and sending kids into enforced covid death camps didn’t stop the plague. Then they held an emergency cabinet meeting to exclude toffs shooting animals from the ruling.
And the usual twitter whimsy.
And finally, a motivational sign for 2020.