On Persistence, Listening and Folklore

3-times-bad-luckBy Colin Robinson

In my experience, Murphy’s Law has a corollary (or at least a close cousin) that means there are times when a number of unrelated things in your life break down in sympathy with each other for no apparent reason, leaving you wondering about fairness, justice and who you have offended recently.

Well it turns out that my cycling life is not immune from this effect and, as a bonus, the rule of threes applies (if you don’t count the broken seat post clamp). So in case anyone might derive benefit from my learnings:

shiny new rivetsFirst, I managed to tear the front derailleur mounting plate off my bike frame when the chain jammed. Three bike shops all advised “must send back to factory”, “cannot fix”, “need new bike”, etc.  My own inspection showed that I had sheared two of the three rivets that hold the plate to the frame which did not look that scary but everyone, it seemed, was scared of carbon frames. Enquiring further afield, including of the original retailer in Beijing, produced the answer I wanted – just re-rivet it, the carbon will be fine.  All I needed now was a bike shop that agreed or a bunch of tools that I have at home but not in Singapore. The suggestion of Valley Cycles struck gold and within 24 hours my days of riding sans front derailleur were over! Worthy of note for all who have similar arrangements on their bikes, ‘cos the rivets, it turns out, can and do corrode.

wet garminNext problem: my Garmin which, it transpires, is not equal to the soggy charms of the weather on Taiwanese mountain tops. [OMG don’t get me started on the total #crapgarmin #wetgarmin #nocustomerservicegarmin #poorqualitygarmin #uselessgarmin its for use on a bike folks, it gets wet! Fix your rubbish products Garmin.  Sorry! Ed.]  ……….A couple of days in the aircon had it showing signs of life but still not completely healthy. So my wife gently suggests filing it in a bag of rice for a few days, with the assurance that there was no rice on the menu during that period. It worked. The Garmin came out without fog under the screen and ready to play – in all aspects except talking to satellites that is.  It would happily track rides from home to Rats but after that satellite service was suspended.  What to do lah?ricefixphone

Garmin in Singapore helpfully suggested sending it to Taiwan (the original cause of the problem if you recall). Garmin service desk in the US helpfully suggested deleting and resetting a bunch of files which sounded good, wasn’t difficult and won me an extension of service to about halfway down Orchard Rd. My friend in the US then helpfully concluded it needed repair which cannot be arranged on-line, no other choices given.  Back to the Taiwan option.  At this stage a new 520 is looking good, faster to obtain and not subject to the vagaries of the modern postal system.

Dejected, I dropped a note to my engineering student son who, from his shared house in Melbourne, was obviously in a good position to help. “Dad, why not take it outside, disable the auto-off function and see how long it will talk to satellites while sitting still (or just buy a new one)?”  I didn’t see how that would help but it could be interesting. Lo and behold, the Garmin is as happy as Larry and would talk to satellites all night if I let it! Soooo – is the problem motion, or is it the auto-off function?

I now have a functioning, rice-dried Garmin that only turns on and off when I tell it to!

dollarbillfixWe’re getting there. The third event was a close encounter of the third(!) kind with unidentified road debris on a dark West Coast highway morning resulting in an instantly flat back tyre. No problem there, I know how to deal with that without waylaying the group. One new tube, 500m down the road and bang, another flat tyre.  A dawning thought – maybe the tyre did not come through the initial encounter unscathed. And sure enough, it has a nice hole torn in the sidewall that I’d missed in my first inspection.

Roti-Prata-Braddell-Singapore-7726Now I’ve heard the $2 story a few times and I do carry two tubes and some money – time to put the folklore to the test. And I am very pleased to report that a S$10 note ( turns out my last $2s had been donated to the roti prata man at the foodcourt on Sunday, in another worthy cause) makes a worthy and capable tyre reinforcing pad, although I do admit it would also nearly have got me a taxi home.

I am now a functioning cyclist again who, in retrospect, may have missed out on a new bike, a new Garmin, and a taxi ride home. Fortunately, Fathers’ Day is in the offing.

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