Friday, September 04, 2009

Bikes, Cars and all that

I ride funny. Not in the sense of ha ha, he he, but in the sense of peculiar. For many years I rode an old bike. It wasn't a modern rugged mountain bike but a narrow wheel bike that we used to call a racing bike, but it's now called a street bike. The only padding on the seat was the leather covering so I often rode side saddle with one cheek on the bike to make use of my own ample padding. I rode in one gear and if I needed to change gears going up hill, I got off and walked.

That was partly because I was usually encumbered and partly because the gears slipped. Just as I was giving it my all to reach the apex of the hill the gear would slip nearly throwing me off the bike. Having nearly taken a header over the handlebars on more than one occasion, I just gave up on gear shifting and left it in the one gear where it would happily stay in place.

That was OK, it suited me. I'm not a speed demon, I'm not in a hurry to get anywhere, I'm riding the bike to get fresh air and take the bird for a ride. I DID say I was usually encumbered.

You don't do anything fast while riding with a macaw. At any moment something might startle her into spreading her 3 foot wingspan and totally obscuring your vision. Or she might decide that brake cables look like good snack food. Or she might just dig her claws in and yell in your ear. After years of riding with her I have learned that I have more control over her when she's on my forearm. Not only that, but I'm more likely to get home and still have clean clothes instead of a shirt with little birdie deposits on it.

Of course riding this way means that you can only change gears on one side of the bike anyway. So I have become accustomed to only gear shifting on the right. The old bike got demolished when I was hit by a car a few years ago and I was sans bike until I persuaded hubby that I was quite able to ride again. The new one is 18 speed. I'm not too sure what I'm supposed to do with the left gear shift never having had occasion to use it before, but the right ones have the familiar slipping problem. Well, not quite the same. These gears don't want to shift at all. After much struggling they go all the way one direction or the other, with nothing in between.

Lately, with the car in the garage, we have found it necessary to do most of our running around using the bikes. These trips were on busy roads and needed to be done as quickly as possible so Dusty has been left home. Long trips with both hands free have left me the luxury of trying different gears and with hubby constantly reminding me to change to low gear going uphill, I tried to comply, without a lot of success. The stinker is so stiff I can barely get it to move and my wrist is starting to give me constant pain from fighting with the gears. So the other day he took a look at my gear shift. Sure enough there was no way the derailleur could shift into high it just wouldn't go. After a few minutes of looking at it he realized it was missing a screw which he cannibalized off the old bike, but it still wasn't right.

He checked out a few videos on the internet and saw a really nifty stand that held the working bits of the bike at eye level so he built his own stand. He got my bike up on the stand and started adjusting the gears. Then the phone rang. It was the garage.

Initially they thought it was one of the fuel injectors which was going to run around $175. Ouch. We've had them changed before and knew we could get them for less. So we called around and got a price of $49. Much better, but it comes from a competitor's shop so we have to get the part first and they would install it. At least both shops are on the same street. This time they called to say it's not the injector, it's a faulty ignition module at $285. We've had them changed too and know we can get the parts for less. Considering the time of day we have to hurry by bike to get down to the parts store and back to the garage before closing.

So without making any adjustments to the gears we rode off to the garage. Three times this week we have gone the 7 km there and 7 km back all the while I'm fighting with the gear shift. My wrist started screaming at me every time I have to use the mouse from all the abuse it's taken trying to shift the gears. Rob's bike has Shimano gears properly installed and his move forward and back with almost no pressure at all. Conversely mine almost take 2 hands to shift. Last night he got the bike up on his newly made stand and adjusted the gears. They now move forward and back through the full range. They're still a little stiff, but much better than before.

This morning the garage called. The car's fixed.

In case you're curious, it wasn't the module after all, it was a burned out wire leading to it. So we took the module back for a full refund. We did replace the fuel injector, because if it's ready to go, better replace it now while the engine's already apart. And the PCV valve that Rob's had for years but couldn't face pulling the engine apart to put it in, and the gas filter he had, that's easier to reach with the car on a hoist. So in the end they did a good job and it didn't cost us anywhere near what we had anticipated and certainly a lot less than a new car.

Tatting? Did I hear someone ask about tatting? Who's had time for tatting.


yarnplayer said...

Whew! Hope all your transportation issues have been fixed and will stay fixed for a long, long time.

Ladytats said...

Congrats on getting the car fixed. and a pat on the back for dh who figured out how to fix your bike. you will enjoy riding it much more now.

Kathy Niklewicz said...

Hi Sharon! We're also having car trouble (both cars - big bills), so I'm totally understanding your situation.

I also am amazed at the problems you've had with your bike being difficult to shift. We found some bikes at a garage sale that are more 'touring' bikes (higher handle bars) and little shifting required. They were made in West Germany and are fabulous. Something about the gear ratios that makes them easily go up hills! However, I admit I'd do a double take if I saw you riding with the beautiful Macaw!

I'm also dropping by to let you know I completed the first round of the 25 motif challenge, so my name can go to the 'done' list - although I fully intend to do another round!

I have to thank you for inspiring me to have a renewed interest in tatting. I'll have new things to show soon.

Carol Lawecki said...

Your Macaw must love you for taking him out for a ride. I bet he loves the fresh air. I've never seen anyone take their bird for a bike ride. He is a beautiful bird.