Sunday, May 04, 2008

It's official. I can't fix bikes.

Date: May 4
Mileage: 29.2
May mileage: 132.7
Temperature: 39

How much time have I wasted on a shifter cable? Enough that I really should have left my bike at the bike shop for three weeks, and given them a few hundred dollars just to keep it away from me for that long. Because if I spend any more time tightening and loosening cables and screws and staring intently at the nubbin pulley wheels on my rusted-out derailleur, I am going to throw my entire bike off my balcony and hope the devil's club grows thick enough to prevent me from ever trying to retrieve it.

I know, I know, I know. I need to learn this stuff. But people like me shouldn't be teaching themselves the procedures. That's like telling a dyslexic person they should teach themselves how to read. I have a genuine mechanical learning disability. Only because someone held my hands and guided me through every excruciating step did I learn to change a tire or put a quick link on a chain. Simple stuff baffles me. I thought the cable replacement would be easier than simple. So I browsed Sheldon Brown's and Park Tool's Web sites for a while until I got sick of trying to decipher Sanskrit. Then I propped up my bike, oiled the cable, and threaded it through the only possible places for it to go. Then I spent hours adjusting the tension and tweaking the derailleur screws just to get the thing to shift smoothly. I came close a couple of times. But then I'd try to execute a hairline tension change, only to end up with the chain skipping all over the place. In the end, I stripped the threading for one of the screws and mangled the cable, and gave up with an adjustment that is about as choppy as it would have been if I had never bothered with it all. I didn't replace the old housing, and maybe that's my problem. But it doesn't matter. I am done. Done. Done. Done.

So my new plan is to wait out this bike shop backlog by ordering a new derailleur online, and then taking the whole setup into the bike shop to have it replaced properly after things slow down. In the meantime, I think I will just slash the cable and accept my bike as a clunky three-speed.

Or put it in the basement. I thought about that. I really like riding my new mountain bike. It rides so comfortable, so smooth, and I've been making a genuine effort to keep up with the cleaning and maintenance to keep it that way. My only problem is the mud-specific tires I bought for it, which put up more rolling resistance than studs on pavement. This time of year and this location require a lot of pavement riding, so I'd be subjecting myself to much frustrating slowness if I use the Karate Monkey for every ride. At the same time, putting slicks on a mountain bike limits my trail riding options; plus, slicks on a mountain bike is just sad. And I'm not going to switch tires back and forth. I am the world's slowest tire changer. Did I mention my mechanical disability?

Too bad Ibex Bikes is sold out of all of their Corridas. Despite Roadie's problems (and they're mostly my fault after years of lax maintenance), I really like this bike. For the price, I think it's a great touring/training/commuting bike. It just needs a little TLC. And an entire set of new components.