Sunday, 25 September 2011

On chuckles, trials and tribulations

A little over a week ago, I was in my gym in the midst of doing some bends when I realized that my ride in the Eastern Township's Challenge that I had completed the week before, covered nearly exactly the same roads as had been ridden by an old friend of Margo's back in July.

She had contacted Margo looking for ideas for a three day bike tour in the Eastern Townships. Margo then passed on the request to my mother and me. We provided her with a suggested itinerary and as well a place to stay for a night (my mother very kindly offered Margo's friend the use of her house despite the fact my mother was in Newfoundland). Margo's old friend took up our advice and my mother's hospitality and seems to have had a great time.

The route was Stanstead-Compton-North Hatley-Magog-Stanstead. Shift that one notch and you get nearly the same as the longest version of the Eastern Township's Challenge, i.e. what I did. Only, I had done it in one day, whereas she had done it in three!

This thought gave me the giggles to the extent that I had to stop my exercise for a bit.

It is not a fair comparison as I was in "go fast mode" on a lightly-laden bike whereas Margo's friend was out for a sight-seeing tour with clobber for three days. As well, her route was probably a bit longer and took in some less well-surfaced roads. Also, there is the age factor as she is about Margo's vintage.

One morning last week, I was getting my bike ready to go to work when one of my neighbours commented that "Y'a pas personne plus en forme que toi!" ("There isn't anyone more in shape than you.") I demurred out of modesty and the fact that I have body image issues. However, I later reflected that given my performance at the Township's Challenge I should think of myself as being in very good shape.

Trials and tribulations
On the same Saturday as the chuckle event, I took Leonardo in for a tune-up and wash prior to going to Australia. The guy at the bike shop embarrassed me by pointing out one of the bolts on the rear rack was missing, and that others were loose.

In addition to pointing out a few things I wished them to look at, I also asked them if they would sell me a spare derailleur hanger. As the bike shop isn't a Devinci dealership, the guy suggested I try Le Yeti (another bike store and one which I patronise from time to time) instead as they would likely have the piece in stock. I did so, but as Leonardo was being tuned up, I was riding die Fledermoose. Unfortunately, it seems you have the exact bike on hand to figure out which hanger to use, even though I knew I had a 2006 Devinci Destination. I wasn't overly impressed.

The following day, I took my iPhone to a Bell Boutique hoping to get it unlocked by them so I would be able to get a temporary phone number in Australia. The people at the store told me that Bell didn't offer unlocking services, but directed me to another store nearby. This was something of a storefront operation. The guy made a comment I didn't understand about the iOS of my iPhone being too up to date. What I did get was that it would be more expensive than if it had an older version of the operating system. In any case, I left the phone with him overnight.

After work on Monday, I picked up Leonardo at the bike shop. The tune-up had just been finished. The person I dealt with had been doing the work. He observed that threads on my derailleur hanger were a bit damaged and suggested that it should be replaced. As I had already noticed this the last time I had reassembled Leonardo and was already going through the motions of getting a new hanger, I think I was very well prepared for his observation. I did, however, verify with him the the proper procedure for replacing a derailleur hanger. ("Remove the rear wheel, unbolt the derailleur, unbolt the old hanger, bolt in the new hanger, bolt on the derailleur and replace the wheel.")

After bringing Leonardo back home, I set off to get my iPhone. The person I had dealt with the day before wasn't there, so it took a surprising amount of fiddling around by the shop people to find my iPhone. Not very impressive. A quick examination of the device showed that it had been wiped. "No big deal," I thought, "I can restore it by plugging it into iTunes." This was definitely not the case. Three hours later, at least five attempts at restoration and a lot of sweat and anxiety later, my iPhone wasn't working at all. I phoned Apple to see if there was anything they could do about it. After taking my particulars, I was instructed to take it to make a Genius Bar appointment at my local Apple Store. Fortunately, you can do that on a Windows computer, and I made an appointment for after work the next day. However, as I was of two minds as to the legality of what I had asked to do, I was rather scared that I might have turned my iPhone into an expensive paperweight. I called James to vent. As usual, he was able to calm me down and I admitted to him that this was possibly a good time for something bad to happen as I have a comfortable amount of money in my bank account.

Riding to work the next morning, I was crossing Sherbrooke Street when I heard and felt an alarming clunking from die Fleddermoose. A quick check revealed that the back tire had been pierced by a screw. This happened at the same spot where this had happened to me last year! To add further insult, the tire so pierced was the Schwalbe Marathon that I had bought to replace the tire damaged in the previous incident!

Already upset by the iPhone situation, I was very agitated. I attempted to get a taxi. I wasn't sure if I wanted to go home or to work. I eventually decided to replace the inner tube and ride carefully to work. I had phoned my superior at work to let her know that I would be late. Actually, I had phoned my superiors as the first time I called, I dialled my old superior by mistake.

At lunch time, I wrote up a problem history for my iPhone and tried to make it clear that I had done what I did in good faith. I printed out a copy and took it with me to the Apple Store. It may sound nerdy, but I knew I was under stress and that I communicate better by writing than by speech. Also, the Apple Store is fairly loud. In any case, the guy at the Genius Bar at the Apple store read my document. He then took a quick look at my iPhone and then my file at Apple. Luckily, I had gone for an extended warranty and he interpreted my actions being in good faith. He therefore simply replaced my iPhone, free of charge.

My relief was very substantial. I had (and have) a lot of warm fuzzy feelings towards Apple. In fact, I decided then and there to get an official Apple World Travel Adapter Kit. The latter has the various bit you will need to plug your iPhone into the wall in most countries. I had been debating between various recharge options.

The session at the Apple Store was over quickly enough that I was able to get to a major bike store just in time to buy a 700x28C Continental TouringPlus tire before the store closed. I am very sympathetic to store employees not being happy by customers coming in at the last minute. On the other hand, I was there to quickly buy something very specific and not entirely inexpensive.

In case, you didn't guess, this last purchase to was to replace the tire that had been pierced in the morning. A case could be made that I might have been premature in replace the Schwalbe, but as the screw had pierced the tire substantially (I'd had trouble removing it), I felt there was no percentage in keeping the tire. The structure of the tire had probably been compromised to the point were it was an accident waiting to happen.

On Friday evening, I went up The Main on Leonardo, first to Schwartz's and then to Le Yeti for not one but two derailleur hangers. Earlier today, I replaced the existing hanger and then gave Leonardo's wheels and mud deflector a scrub.

I spent part of this afternoon re-entering phone numbers into my iPhone. This has resulted in at least one person getting a blank e-mail from me. If you got one, please accept my apologies.

It hasn't been an easy week.

When we were in Newfoundland, Margo commented that the saddle on Leonardo was looking a little rough around the edges. I had been thinking the same thing. As well, I had found the saddle wasn't as comfortable on the first few days as I should have. The root of that problem is that the saddle on die Fledermoose isn't the same type as the one on Leonardo. At one point, they had been the same, but time and weather meant that I had to change die Fledermoose's saddle to another similar but not identical saddle. All this to say that if I get a new saddle for Leonardo, I have to get one for die Fledermoose. In fact, I have chosen and bought new saddles.

However, I don't want to go through the saddle breaking-in process for both bikes right now. My trip to Australia is three weeks away and I am simply not going to get enough riding on Leonardo in. Instead, as Leonardo's old saddle now has a finite life expectancy, I have put it onto die Fledermoose in order to get my bum into the proper shape.

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