Or wagon wheels as this new niche/the emerging standard/the ONLY wheel size you need – delete as per your standing in the internet-blowhard wheelsize jihad. All of my bikes seem to have a difficult birth, and – unsurprisingly as Random’Al was left in charge of collating all the bits – this one was no different.
However some things were exactly the same. Firstly my protestations that a busy man has many better things to do than build bicycles, even if that means occasionally riding them. Result being a desperate husbanding of likely looking parts being carefully thrown into a box before being presented to a wary bike mechanic with a breezy ‘all there Nic, everything you need, absolutely no issues whatsoever, really can’t see a problem. Pick up at lunchtime?’
Things didn’t go smoothly from there. Although almost fifteen minutes passed before a bemused Nic telebonged me with a polite enquiry on how exactly he was to transfer the donor headset from a bike of entirely different dimensions. The ugly stick, in a last act of defiance, disgorged bearings and the like with it being built to a set of measurements clearly translated from English to Chinese by a man with only a vague understanding of both languages, and a specialism in camel selling.
I left Nic to serially problem solve the many other issues my desperately time poor assemblage of possibly useful bits and pieces had left him with, to motor across the county with strict instructions to return only with a part best thought of as unobtanium. Amazingly, skills honed on long winter nights* presented me impatiently at a counter manned by a nice man called Dave who opened about a thousand boxes before an Alan Partridge ‘AH HAH‘ signalled success.
Back in the car, and back to Ross for a second time having taken in the lovely environs of Hereford’s world famous Saturday Traffic Disaster, I presented Nic with my find in the manner of Darwin – recently de-beagled – stunning the scientific world with a slightly bonkers theory on why Church Building may not be a wise investment. He took this opportunity to regale me with certain ‘issues‘ my motley part collection had caused during what should be a simple build.
At times like this, I find it best to nod apologetically and wander off to Lunch before to avoid being roped in to any actual work. Returning an hour later, a bike shaped object was more than taking shape even if my choice of BFFT** demanded a micrometer to measure the gap between front mech and rubber nobble. Still with trail conditions being essentially dusty right now, what can possibly go wrong? Failing that, I’m firing up the dremmel and customising Shimano’s finest.
On my THIRD trip to the bike shop, I reflected on an approach which selected parts by colour and shinyness probably needed some work. The bits I’d left out I now shamefully handed over, and the bits that were wrong we silently replaced. But at the end of this painful process – well for Nic, I’d basically spent the day with Jess making jokes and eating cake – the result is something really quite pleasing. Even if it appears to be missing 50mm of fork travel that’s clearly been lost in the wheels.
A quick spin down the road confirms it has the ride characteristics of ‘a bike‘. There’s definitely something odd going on with gyroscopic effect which makes me wonder if I should have fitted a speaking tube ‘ENGINE ROOM, ALL AHEAD FLANK‘ – that kind of thing. But what’s done is done, even with the rider that the remains of the ugly stick nestle malevolently in the rafters above my head in case the clothes of this new emperor are entirely fictitious.
Tomorrow I’ll go ride it. It’ll be an experience similar to lying face down in a muddy puddle for four hours, so empirical data to support the big wheeled apologists is likely to be lacking. On the upside, it’ll be riding a bike in the sunshine with my friends, with beer to finish. That’s significantly more important than what you are riding.
Lance was right about something. It’s not about the bike. Of course it isn’t. It’s about the beer. Bloke was clearly an idiot 😉
* that’s surfing the Internet for bike bits. In case there was any doubt.
** Big Fat Fuggin Tyre. I’d rather be slower uphill than upside down in a tree. Grip over Weight every time. Probably a life statement right there!