P1030922-001At the end of my second week of painting corridors in a local school it was great to do some proper fettling last night, something requiring slightly more thought. The only major change I knew I wanted to change on the Marin for the ride was the gearing, something with a lower range for the mountains of Switzerland and northern Italy. A few weeks of scouring ebay and various cycling forums and eventually a barely used MTB crank set turned up for very little money. Perfect.

I’d been putting off making switching the crankset, aware that if it didn’t all go smoothly then I might lose a few days of being able to ride whilst waiting for a solution. Equally, from about ten days before the tour starts I wouldn’t want to make any major changes to the bike. So you end up with an ever smaller window in which to do  the work. Why not touch it within ten days of the start? There’s always potential for uncovering a major headache of a problem, something which would have been fine had it not been pulled around by an amateur mechanic, but that suddenly requires a lot of attention once disturbed. Of course it doesn’t always go to plan, I think Rob had to go and buy a new set of wheels two days before we started LEJOG last summer!

The only thing I was missing for the job was a 14mm socket spanner, so I rode round to my Grandpas house to have a rummage around for one. A short time later and we had found a socket set that he had bought for my Dad when he was about 12 years old, great. It took a bit of grunt to get the old bottom bracket out but other than that things went smoothly, the smell of grease and sounds of Toploader rising as the sun slowly fell in the sky. I find there is a very simple joy to be taken from doing this kind of work on your own machine. Credit should go here to a guy called Ian who has taught me a lot of the bicycle mechanics that I know, something of a cycling shaman to me since I fell in love with the sport in 2009. Also to my friend Ben, we fixed my bike countless times in his basement during my time in Sheffield, the Peak District chews up both rider and bike then spits them out again. I don’t know if they’ll be reading this but I’m still grateful.

17 days to go.

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