Thursday, 6 August 2015

On a good place to have a mishap and other tales of T.O.

In hindsight, I probably should have done something more about front rack as the wear around the top securing bolt was significant. At the very least, a few washers should have been deployed. However, that idea had been had been put in the wrong mental file.

Instead, after a morning of riding on the Waterfront Trail and the bumps it generated as it went from street to trail and back repeatedly, I was approaching Bathurst Street in Toronto on a bike path in a park when the sheet metal in the front rack around the top right securing bolt gave way, causing right bag to get in the spokes. I braked but not quickly enough as the "U" of metal joining the two sides of the rack came into contact with the tire and became jammed. This damn nearly threw me over the handlebars as the front wheel stopped. Thankfully, the weight of my rear bags kept Leonardo from bucking me off. While was happening, I couldn't uncleat my shoes fast enough which added to my fright.

I extracted myself from the bike stood back and audibly asked "WTF just happened?" No one else had witnessed the event which was either a good or a bad thing. Or possibly both.

I took a minute or two to allow my heart to slow down and for the adrenaline rush wear off. I then examined Leonardo to assess the damage. The front rack was definitely toast with the "U" clearly bent. I began by removing the front bags, then deflated the front tire. I then unbolted the front rack. I spun the front wheel to see if it was okay. I wasn't sure but I thought there was a shimmy in it. A casual glance revealed no obvious spoke damage.

Now what? I could roll but no longer had a front rack. What did this mean for the trip? Was it over for now and what would that mean for the Parents? Would they ride to Montreal without me? I then calmed myself by pointing out that the breakdown had happened in about as perfect conditions as imaginable. I had more than 48 hours to get Leonardo into shape in a large city full of cyclists and shops catering to them. More to the point, I knew where one of the bigger ones was and it was within blocks of me: MEC.

I bungeed the front bags onto the rear ones along with the front rack. I then set off gingerly to MEC. I boldly rolled Leonardo into the store and to the bike repair bay. I gave a semi-coherent account of what had happened to the guy in repairs and asked him if he could give the front wheel a look. His impression was that it was a bit out of true but that it should get me to Montreal. He said that if I wanted it trued, they could get done within 24 hours.

Time to think. "Do I leave Leonardo here and navigate my way to my cousin Cathy's house with all my clobber?" I didn't relish the notion. Nor did I like the idea of riding any more without a front rack and gear. So instead, I bought a new Filzer front rack and installed it then and there in the store. One of the staff members admired the hex key I was using. I smugly revealed that it was from Ikea! (I made a post about my "discovery" years ago.) He enjoyed my idea and said he would add an Ikea hex key to his tool kit.

The Fizler rack is sturdier and more complex than its predecessor. Consequently, it required what seemed like an hour to install. (Note to self: see if you can get a PDF of the instructions for future reference.)

I made my way to Cathy and her husband Mike's house following the Toronto bike map. I let myself in using a key code Cathy had provided me with and said "Hello" to Ella the housekeeper and Bella the quiet Westie. (She is quietest terrier I have ever encountered.) Ella showed me to the room assigned to me. I dumped the bulk of my clobber down and made an "excursion" selection of gear. As I did so, I noticed a text message from Cathy regarding my arrival and that of Mike later that evening. I replied that I had arrived but was about to leave again due bike repair issues. There followed an exchange on the matter as she suggested another location which was closer than MEC. However, it might have been busy and I didn't know exactly where it was. On the other hand, I knew where MEC was and that it had the time. I went back to MEC to hand Leonardo over to their loving care. I was given a card to pay at the cash, but first decided to do some shopping for an assortment of bike munchies and other bits and pieces. By the time I had been to the cash, Leonardo was ready! I don't think it had been 24 minutes, let alone 24 hours!

I returned to the house and settled in. By the time Mike arrived, I was bathed and relaxed. This was a good thing as Mike is a very intense man which is something I hadn't really appreciated before. He strode into the kitchen looking a mite like Richard Branson and proceeded to whip up a very nice supper of lamb, potatoes, Greek salad and grilled zucchini from scratch in less time than I would have thought possible.

We chatted on a number of topics ranging from the upcoming election to the role of librarians in the Information Age and much else over wine and supper. He gently chastised me for using his water glasses for wine, the main difference being size.

The next morning, I went out looking for the bike shop, Cathy had referred to. I found it and another one close by which I visited out of curiousity. These proved to be relatively close to the house I really remember living in Toronto so I went to have a look-see of the place I learnt to ride a bike. The rest of the day was spent chasing my tail looking for a new watch, books and bits.

Cathy was home when I returned. She informed me that her father Han would be there for supper as well as Melody, his significant other. It was good hear as I hadn't seen him since his wife's Mary's funeral a few years ago. At the time I had been concerned at his appropriate grief. My parents arrived a little after six, with Pappy wearing a stealth T-shirt.

Cathy and Mike's daughter Alison also joined us for supper. She was quite quiet and almost seemed out of place amongst the old fogies. Melody seemed a good fit for Han though nowhere the strong personality Mary was. This may have been a deliberate choice of Han's or simply a result of few people having a personality as Mary! ;-) (And I say that with all due love and respect.)

Today, I spent looking over maps with Cathy and Mummy, cleaning and prepping Leonardo, finally finding a suitable watch and mailing a box of surplus bits to Montreal. That and writing blog entries.

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