Monday, April 21, 2008

I don't Get it

Firstly, why I always get put in the hostel dorms with the man-child weirdo's with no concept of 'social conduct' that happens to me with such regularity I am starting to suspect that youth hostels is just where they happen to reside thus ensuring one to each dorm room.
I don't want to sound like an anti-semite or anything but the Germans sure know hospitality, I miss their hostels already and I've only been out for 2 days.
The second part I don't get for the past 3 days I've been cycling, from Dusseldorf to Emmerich am rhein, Germany to Arnheim to Ultrecht to Amsterdam to Gouda, Netherladns a 300km oddessey. The first thing I don't get was that in Austria I rode from Salzburg to Linz which is exactly 125 km in 1 day and Austria is full of hills, then it seems after that I haven't been able to cover more than 60 in a day, Bavaria that was understandable it is really hilly, but then once leaving dusseldorf I headed off at 8.30 in the morning, which is the earliest I had ever managed to get away (at that point) and had the usual mechanical which was too little pressure in my rear tire, but I fixed that. And I rode all day and suddenly I was in a race against the sun, before even hitting the Dutch boarder (but barely) and ended up just crashing into a cheap hotel in well...somewhere.
Then the next day my deflated ipod away I noticed an irritating sound, it sounded like the wheel every now and then was brushing against fabric, so I thought maybe one of the tent or saddlebag straps had got into the works but no.
And I stopped and wheeled it a while and the sound stopped, I couldn't locate anything fucking wrong with it the wheel spun fine even when I lifted it off the ground. It wasn't until a went soaring down a Netherlands bike road into a tunnel that I noticed all of a sudden my alternator lights where working, just barely and then I noticed that they shouldn't work because the alternator was popped up into the off position, except with my weight depressing the bike a little and the wheel buckled it was just catching it every now and then.
Hold that, my wheel was fucking buckled.
Now a wheel buckling is by far the most painful and emotionally taxing mechanical you can have.
Imagine hanging off a cliff edge by your fingertips, and suddenly your pinky slips off, and even though you are still hanging on, your pinky due to natural curvature is pushing against the cliff face almost like it wants you to fail when you are desperately trying to succeed. And furthermore you know that now the pinky is gone, it is only a matter of time before the ring finger slips off too.
Having a wheel buckle is worse than that, because at least once all four fingers go on that hand you can reach into your pocket and get out your mobile phone and call emergency services, really you should have let go before.
But a wheel buckling takes away what fixed gear riders pay for the priveledge of not having, it takes away momentum. If car drivers are frustrated by lights, bike riders who actually have to generate their own momentum and drive their own accelleration hate them more, fortunately its fairly easy to run red lights on a bike but a cyclist knows that conserving momentum is the name of the game.
When a wheel buckles it hits that brake pad every rotation and when really bad will force you to keep pedling even going downhill.
But the thing is, that depending on the state of the wheel getting it fixed is expensive, in either time, labor, parts or all three. and having done 955km Rosante was in particularly bad shape. by the time I reached amsterdam the spoke snapped, so I taped it to the next one knowing it wouldn't fix the buckle but at least got rid of the clack clack noise.
The next day I decided rather than wait for repair work in expensive Amstrerdam I would stubbornly gun for Rotterdam where I currently reside and get the necessary repairs there, where I could also peacebly chill out.
So I set out, just after lunch I had reached a place called Ter Aam, I wasn't going to train because the best thing to do here is ride the bike roads all over the country. Anyway just after lunch I heard the second load clunk and the noise from the buckle and traction got noticably worse, I was only 20km from Gouda so I decided to make it the fastest 20km of my life. Mistake, the extra strain caused a quick 3rd and 4th pop and then I had to dismount, 14km to go.
I simply could not ride Rosante anymore.
So I walked 14km to Gouda.
At the 9km to go mark there where disturbi ng noises, I started to get really worried that I soon wouldn't even be able to push the bike anymore. I heard more snaps and on closer inspection noticed that most of the spokes had broken away from the hub, meaning the rim would need to be replaced, not just a few spokes.
This made me very nervous because I knew Rosante would go from a convenient for pushing bike shape, to a major liability should the rear wheel stop spinning.
Fortunately it made it to Gouda, now I just need to get repairs.
But anyway if you are wondering why I went AWOL for 4 days, (probably not) its because I've been riding. And man it has been good.

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