Two and a half weeks now until Adi the ‘Vespa Chic ‘ heads across the Pacific to Portland for the start of her big ride across the US. She doesn’t appear nervous at all. In fact while I was out last week on one of my cycle rides I spent some time contemplating this and actually started feeling nervous for her!
I think she’s actually really looking forward to ditching me for an extended period.
There was a bit of a panic this week when hunting travel insurance for her. I tried the crowd we usually use and the quote came out at $ 500. Not content with this I tried again only to get a figure of $ 1400 ! Admittedly this was insurance designed for full on competition. Since the TransAm is not regarded by the organisers as a race and since the ‘Vespa Chick ‘ is not signing up for a race , we settled on normal travel insurance suitable for an unassisted solo ride across the States.
The final on-line order of cycle bits turned up at the gate yesterday so I spent today doing the full workshop service on Vespa chick’s bike. Her bike is only a year old but in that time she has done a fair number of long day rides and more than a few mini tours over the last summer. So I am replacing all consumable items on the bike. New tyres, tubes, cables , transmission bits , brake blocks, you name it . In addition to that I have greased and adjusted all bearings and checked that everything else is tight. I won’t be there to help her with maintenance so hope this will suffice to get her across America. She is under strict instructions to not let any bike shop touch her bike unless it is unavoidable.
It’s not that I don’t trust the work of other mechanics , it’s just that I don’t want them working on a bike that needs to run faultlessly for extended periods. I’m sure they are more than capable of fixing a weekend warriors bike. A bike like that falls under the category of sports equipment, such as a tennis racket.
Serious bikes fall under the class ‘ transport’ and need to run in all weather conditions and are depended on to get the operator to the next destination without assistance. There’s no room for ‘quacks’ to be working on these machines. It’s no fun to be 30kms from the nearest habitation on a wet cold evening and finding that some idiot mechanic didn’t tighten your cranks sufficiently.
Anyway to try to avert any unscheduled stops in the middle of nowhere ( and there’s a lot of nowhere when cycling across America) for the Vespa Chick I spent the day today servicing her cyclocross bike. It all went swimmingly I might say. In fact when I pulled the rear hub apart I discovered that the Chinese man or woman who assembled it a year ago lost count of the number of bearings that should have gone in the drive side and somehow misplaced one. Only a small error you might say and certainly not a sack able offence but one that could have had the Chick walking through Kansas instead of cycling. Some of those States are mundane enough even at cycling speeds, you don’t want to be reduced to walking through them.
I’m very pleased with the tyre choice. We could have used Continental Gator skins or such like , but that would have necessitated a tyre change and service halfway across. As previously mentioned I wanted to try to get the cycle all the way with no pit stops so opted for Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres. But narrow ones at 25cm. These tyres are heavier but I really wanted to minimise the chance of the chick having to fix flats. We will see, but I know these tyres will do the distance. They may be heavier but she won’t need to take a spare tyre and will need fewer spare tubes. ( Famous last words).
Tomorrow I’ll put the final touches to it and then it has a couple of weeks to settle down before a final cable tighten and nut check. Then we’ll have to partially disassemble it for the plane flight. I know that Vespa Chick can reassemble it as I’ve watched in awe as the disassembled bike has been slowly reassembled by her in the lounge with only the odd piece on backwards or not at all :# Niel “The Wheel”