Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Bad components and late departures

Ted and I had everything loaded before dark. We had plenty of room for stuff in the bags and room for more if I put the tent on top of the back rack. This may be what I need to do if we need to carry extra water at some point. A loaded touring bike is quite different than an unloaded bike because it weighs a lot. We have maybe 5o pounds of gear on each bike and they are ponderous. My steel frame is particularly flexible to the point where I thought I might have low tires (I didn't) because it was so cushy. When you wiggle the handlebars while you are riding the whole bike seems to bend. Ted's Klein, being aluminum, is stiffer but still can be wiggled a little. I read that moving more weight to the front can be helpful so I can experiment tomorrow.

Still, everything went well until my right shifter stopped working. Since I got the Bianci in the winter I have been watching this shifter because it was sometimes stiff and slow to shift. I lubricated it and that seemed to help but it comes down to the set of shifters are just old and of only medium quality. An STI shifter is a complicated thing as it contains a brake lever and indexed shifters in one compact component. Most say you can't work on them and, having tried to do so, I concur. Mine did their job passably well for probably 600 miles around town up until I took the maiden loaded ride this evening and the ratcheting mechanism just ceased working -- bad timing in the small picture, excellent timing in the big picture.

Fortunately Albuquerque has a lot of excellent bike shops and I will be able to purchase what I need tomorrow morning when the shops open at 9 or 10 am. Because I don't trust the STI setup at this point I am going to purchase simple bar end shifters. These are found on many high-end touring bikes for for same reason -- when you are 100 miles from a bike shop with a broken shifter it stinks. This entails taking off the handlebar tape, removing the old brake lever-shifters, cutting and removing the 4 cables for the brakes and shifters and reassembling everything with new cable housing and cables. Fortunately I just did this last month when I built the Klein so I won't be going through a process of discovery and it should only take an hour or two.

At this point it looks like we won't have an early morning departure. There is a funny part to this story. As I was tearing off the handlebar tape (in a great state of frustration) I realized that I actually had 22 days for this trip instead of the 21 days I thought I had so I haven't really lost a day.

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