Not Safe For Work.

That needs to be in the bag!

I swear too much. Of this I am reminded quite often. Mostly by my youngest daughter who – despite being extremely articulate and well schooled – refuses to accept that ‘fuck‘ adds much richness as both an adjective and a verb.

Needs must though. Only Kipling assigns equivalence to triumph and disaster. The rest of us take one look at the cowpats strewn by the devils’ own satanic herd* and reflect soberly ‘OH FOR FUCKS SAKE’.

Exhibit ‘A’ is my newish but extensively campaigned full suspension bike. It really needs to be in that bag because Monarch Airlines are unlikely to accept it as hold baggage in its current state.

Yet it remains unbagged due to potential brokenness. Some of which Matt has fixed, and some of which I have fixed. I think you can probably work out where my concerns are.

We had a fantastic plan. Two splitters were upping sticks and decamping to Spain for a few days riding where skies are not the colour of gruel, and trails dance dustily above the water table.  For which a working bike is mandatory. A state Matt can bestow on even the most mistreated given enough time.

Of which we had loads. A week in fact. Sadly – like most great ideas – our plan did not survive first contact with the enemy. Or, to be a little more specific, a night testing ourselves against the strong ales of the Wye Valley Brewery.

Matt and I** had two simple tasks. True a wheel, bleed some brakes. An hour for the honed skills of my mechanical mate. When sober anyway. But even a full half day later stumbling drunkeness prevailed. Three hours later we’d conceded the wheel might last a few more days, and I’d narrowly escaped being decapitated by a brake piston exiting the caliper at high speed.

There’s a lesson here kids. Don’t fuck about with compressed air when you’re still pissed. Underwear can be replaced, eyeballs less so.

Relieved I dragged the alloy carcuss home to strip it back revealing the basic DNA required to stuff it into the bag-too-small. 20 minutes in and its apparent the expensive component on which the cranks spin were clearly somewhere beyond operating tolerances.

Checking the website, the marketing lies tell me ‘Our bottom brackets are born on the Vancouver North Shore. Built for endurance under the harshest conditions, professional riders rely on the performance of these class leading products‘. Only, I assume, because they get a box fresh one for free ever week.

Six months of a British Summer may not represent Sahara type conditions but it should not turn bearings square. The problem is standards. The joy of mountain biking is there are so many different ones to choose from. RaceFace decided to solve a problem no one had by oversizing their crank axles with the consequence of reducing the size of the bearings they spin on.

Not only that, all this requires new tooling to remove and refit what I’d call disposable components were it not for their ‘you could buy a car for that’ pricing. This whole ruin-ess enterprise is not helped by the fact that no OEM manufacturers have bought into the design fallacy, so you’re forced to hand over wads more cash to the very same people who dumped the problem on you in the first place.

As a professional Yorkshireman this rankles somewhat. But short of taking the fat bike, I was left with no option but to splurge cash at replacement parts. Which arrived with dire warnings re: incorrect installations. Ignored that and leant on spanners for a while until establishing a state of partial equilibrium.

Except the cranks didn’t really spin freely on the those brand new bearings. I considered taking it apart, but considering the effort and luck getting to this point, that scenario had frame breaking catastrophe written all over it.

Carol reckons I’m overthinking it. She’s keen to reclaim the floor of our sitting room. I’m a bit more ambivalent. Matt – knowing me well – feels it might be worth him having a look tomorrow night, some 12 hours before we’re flying.

Leaving stuff to the last minute has pretty much defined my career. The only proper deadline is the one a single sunrise away.  But when it comes to wrangling a bike into a bag and forgetting about it until it’s thrown carelessly onto the oversize baggage carousel, I’d be absolutely fine with a bit more latitude.

Fuck. I’ll sleep on it. The problem, not the bike. It’s not Smaug and the Hobbit. Although I feel the former may offer something if welding is required.

*thank you Richard Curtis and Blackadder. I have no idea what kind of mind comes up with such genius.

**Matt really. I just stand around trying to find tools strewn randomly on the floor of his garage.

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