Friday, January 24, 2014

Chilly, NHL ride, and my pivoted tongues are in tip-top shape, thank you very much.

It turns out the Bashful Artist (aka Racer X) was all wrong. When my freehub started making dreadful, dying-animal-grunt noises during Sunday's Giro, I received two wildly divergent opinions about how to remedy the defect. Big Rich said my hub required servicing. X said I needed a new bike. While at first blush the latter suggestion was decidedly the more attractive, X's plan about how to accomplish said option (petitioning the purser-in-chief) seemed unrealistic and unlikely to succeed. I dropped an unsubtle hint that X might consider organizing a new-bike fundraiser, but days passed with no word about the formation of planning committees, the dispatching of site scouts, or any other indicia of a forthcoming charity event.

In the meanwhile I received further advice from Randy which comported with Rich's, and contained a detailed description of the cause of my problem, including the possible non-engagement of one of my two pawls. It is a little embarrassing to admit that unless you count slathering Simple Green on the chain and cassette, in situ, and then hosing down, drying, and lubing the drive train, the entirety of my experience addressing mechanical problems which beset my bike has heretofore consisted of rolling it into a local bike shop and negotiating for a quick turnaround. I did successfully replace my bar tape once, but I'm almost certain that doesn't count as mechanical. While I found Randy's comments interesting, I had no clue what he was talking about or what a pawl was. Here's what Merriam-Webster had to say:
pawl: n. a pivoted tongue or sliding bolt on one part of a machine that is adapted to fall into notches or interdental spaces on another part so as to permit motion in only one direction 

That didn't help me much so I did a Google image search for pawl, and it was instant recognition: Oh, sure, the little thingy that drops between the teeth of a gear which allows it to turn only one way. Of course, a pawl. Now that I knew what we were talking about I could address the issue. So I decided to take my wheel as soon as possible to the bike shop and request prompt hub servicing, and please, make sure to check my pawls.

Before I could get to the bike shop Rich kindly offered, conditioned upon my purchasing a Shimano cassette tool (Rich is all Campy), to show me my actual pawls. So with wheel and newly acquired cassette tool of the Shimano variety in hand I proceeded to Rich's house.

With regard to certain aspects of his life, e.g. the interior of his car, the dirt- and debris-free nature of his driveway, the alignment of logo-adorned socks, and everything whatsoever to do with bicycles, Rich can be fairly described as a tad fastidious. Actually, more than a tad, we're talking OCD-textbook-case-study fastidious. So I don't think it is in any wise an exaggeration when I tell you that as I handed him my rear wheel and he looked at the cassette, his face became contorted, in an almost unnatural way, in profound revulsion, much as you might imagine the countenance of a non-parent opening the malodorous diaper of a baby fed only pureed spinach for a week. As he removed each sprocket from the cluster, he would shake his head then hold it up in front of my face. "Look at the filth on that," he said. Over and over, the same thing, "Look at the crap on this thing." I had to cross my eyes to focus on the cruddy teeth almost touching my nose. He put me to work with degreaser, a rag, and a wire brush.

Not my actual pawls - generic Mavic pawls
Eventually, after many, many more look-how-grimy comments, my pawls were revealed to me. Rich declared them to be in fine shape and gave them to me to clean. He cleaned and oiled the hub body and put everything back together. The whole process took about 20 minutes, which, according to Rich, was considerably longer than usual, the extra time made necessary by the wretched condition of my cassette.

Thursday morning it was  44 degrees at KMSY at 5:00 am, technically a no-ride day pursuant to the Law of 45/15. But it was close enough, especially with my being somewhat buoyed by a freshly serviced freehub and sparkly cassette. Triceps Dave, Big Rich and I met Brian, Randy and Danielle, who were waiting in two cars, in the parking lot of Sno-Wizard at River Road and Oak.

My clean cassette

The plan was for the cars to ride, hazard lights blinking, behind the bikes for the mile or so to levee access near Causeway Blvd. It worked pretty well until a massive dumptruck came roaring around our escort just as Rich was turning into the levee access. He missed being squashed in the road by a hair, but the truck driver saved himself eight seconds. Dave and I went straight for another 50 yards to another access and climbed the levee without threat. It was a little scary.

Ray was at the playground. NHL. So it was a steady, if a little chilly, ride out and back interrupted briefly when Brian flatted. At ride's end, we just took the lane on River Road, which in daylight and congested with morning commuters wasn't too bad.

My freehub sounded smooth as silk. And it was good to see what my pawls look like, and to learn something about how my bike works rather than just dropping it off at the bike shop. Although Rich's garage is not unlike a bike shop, except he doesn't carry Shimano parts, and if you show up with dirty components, you may have to endure a lot of tut-tut-tutting, head shaking, and sternly worded admonitions.

 [Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]

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