I seem to have developed some sort of anti-Midas touch when it comes to bicycle maintenance and fettling in general. A few weeks back, my bike developed a bit of a squeak. I decided that this was a worn bottom bracket, so I ordered a new one. I took the old one out, and it was a bit grindy so definitely worth changing. However after cleaning out the BB shell I tried to install the new version to discover that it required a different tool – a big ring spanner thing, rather than the Campag cassette removal tool. So I ordered this spanner thing and reinstalled the old BB. I go for a ride and hey presto, no squeaking. I think the noise had actually been down to a tiny bit of binding in the dropouts.
Anyway, when the BB spanner arrived I went to work for a second time, cleaned out the BB shell, and installed the new bottom bracket. I reassembled everything, and then, hey presto, the indexing was out. Rather than sit back and think about why this had happened, I immediately started buggering about with the rear mech. And within seconds I had snapped the little cable clamp piece – the separate bit that the cable clamp bolt goes through before it screws into the mech itself. So, in order to cure a squeak, i had replaced an (admittedly fairly well worn) bottom bracket that was entirely unrelated to the squeak, fucked up my gearing, and then put the bike completely out of action. Great.
Luckily, the helpful people at Condor managed to secure me a new clamp, so I was only off that bike for a few days. I got the gears working again. Well, not entirely satisfactorily – I have failed to get the mech to attain the dizzy height of the innermost sprocket ever since – something I really should remedy before too long.
Anyway, today I decided to abandon my planned ride outside, as my legs were a bit tired still from a bit over four hours yesterday. And also it was bloody freezing. So I decided to do a turbo – but before that, maybe the bike deserved a quick wash. Halfway through the scrubbing I thought it might be worthwhile treating the chain to a decent scrub. I used Chain-L for the first time the last time I had given the chain a wash, and it’s been really bloody great. However, I’ve done about 800 miles since then, and the roads have been quite grubby recently, so it was probably about time for a wash and brush up.
Off came the chain and into a pot of degreaser, along with the links. I let it soak while I went to work on the rest of the bike, and then returned for some decent scrubbing. I then picked out the chain, dropped it into another pot of hot soapy water to rinse, and then flung the contents of pot 1 into the undergrowth, thinking how stupid it would be to do such a thing if one had been foolish enough to leave the Connex links in the pot.
Which I had. I found the first within about 5 minutes, but after another twenty, on my hands and knees in the muck, with worms crawling up through the soil on a mission to fuck things up for me even more, I admitted defeat, returned to the bike to rinse it down, and, hey presto, there was the link on the ground. I must’ve dropped it when lifting the chain from pot to pot.
All well again. Hmmmm. So I started washing the wheels down. The front wheel QR skewer seemed to have lodged solid inside the axle. I tapped it, squirted it with GT85, tapped and twisted it some more. Nothing. So I gave it a whack. And the end of the bloody thing bent. Whacked it again, and it knocked the bearing cap off. So I dismantled it, and now I am left with an Ambrosio axle with a bent bloody skewer STILL STUCK INSIDE!
I only wanted to give my bike a nice wash, not (nearly) destroy the drivetrain and smash my wheels to pieces. What a fucking nightmare. I put my Rolf Vector on the front instead and did an hour of turbo, watching Apocalypse Now – the only film that could compete in any way with my black mood. I then snapped quite unfairly at my girlfriend. (Although considering her callous breakage of a beautifully cut high ball glass later in the evening it looks like I was just about 3 hours early with the snapping…) I was left with only two options – either arm myself with a carving knife and go on a cat killing spree. Or stick up some photos of Mario Cipollini. Luckily for my neighbours, I decided on the latter…