Wrestling, corkscrews, tweezers, and the art of bicycle maintenance

cyclefucius remembers the following advice from a famous wrestling trainer (you’ve had so many? – Ed.): “never try to do anything you don’t know how to do”.

For years I thought this was “never do anything you don’t know how to do” which is kind of self-fulfilling (and rather defeatist). I think the human translation is “learn how to do it first”.

So readers may remember the unintentional “fixie” episode and despite – or perhaps because of – the dubious products from the pound shop (actually the 100-pesetas-or-more shop”) the problem returned. A bit of manual wrestling with the bare cable (see what I did there?) and a form of shifting could be done but soon cyclefucius’s shifters began to sprout bits of frayed daddy-long-legs-like cable. Something was definitely Wrong.

Local bike shop. New cable. Also asked for them to check the chain wear and, somehow lost in translation, cyclefucius is sold a *tool* to check the chain wear (but finds this quite karmic along the lines of don’t give him a fish but a fishing rod).

Now the famous wrestling trainer may have been right in his time – but these days the quote should of course be “never try to do anything you don’t know how to do or that doesn’t have an explanatory video on YouTube”. So there I am in the back garden of Fucius Towers surrounded by tools, bike parts, grease and rags, with a nice Canadian gentleman in the background calmly explaining what I should do next. (Business idea – some form of remote using hand signals only in order to pause YouTube when hands covered in bike grease.)

105 cable
Simply poke this out

So we get everything dismantled up to the shifter. “Simply poke the old cable through the shifter” says the man. Clearly he had been more prescient than cyclefucius and had changed it before catastrophic failure / application of dubious Chinese products.

So now starts the real wrestling. Shifting down to rotate the shifter barrel so we can actually see the little round bit. Poking around with other bits of cable from the back (warning – 105 shifters are really delicate and easy to damage – I am sure this gets worse as you go up the range and weight gets shed). Poking around from the front end. Turning the bike upside down. Turning the right way up. Repeat. Think “That calm Canadian in his pristine bike shop with all tools known to man has no idea.” Or words to that effect.

Finally we are done. The saviours? A corkscrew and some tweezers. The thing is poked out. Given the state of the cable, part of cyclefucius will be concerned for some time to come that some of the little daddy-long-legs bits are irrevocably stuck somewhere inside the cable and/or shifter, seriously affecting wattage. Or will use that as an excuse.

Putting in the new cable was actually fine and could almost be done in real time with YouTube man. Almost. cyclefucius has never before heard the words “fourth hand cable puller” and still believes that this is cheating.

So we are done. Even the chain was replaced before darkness fell. Handlebar tape will have to wait for another day. Will cyclefucius be carrying the indispensable corkscrew and tweezers around in case of emergencies? He certainly will not be admitting it publicly.

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