I’m not quite sure what it is, but my nerves are jangling. Maybe it’s the sunnier, longer and marginally warmer days we’re having in these parts as a nasty winter slackens its grip at last. But more likely it’s my inner biker emerging from a gloomy winter of hibernation.
Through the cold months I’ve actually been questioning my biker side – staring forlornly at my partly dismantled Cagiva with lots of cruddy bits that need attention, inwardly lamenting my lack of proper workshop facilities at home, juggling working on the bike with family life, and even asking myself whether the bike thing is worth my time any more.
I ploughed my way through the winter on my folding bicycle, a veteran Dawes King Pin from the 1970s that someone on Freecycle gave me. I’ve been riding it partway to work and back each day, and actually I’m hooked on cycling now. I even got to put some of Trent’s know-how on wheelbuilding into action by replacing five spokes and truing up the rear wheel. All this pedalling must be doing me some good too, because despite my age carving a deep furrow through the upper 30s I just bought a pair of the same size Levi’s as three years ago.
Anyway, the more I think about it, the biker side is definitely stirring again. I’m getting twitchy about that freshly powdercoated swingarm sitting on the floor of the spare room, that brake caliper bracket that is not going ANYWHERE NEAR the swingarm looking so grotty, that rear wheel that needs the Autosol treatment, all those various brackets and fittings around the bike that I want to strip back and recoat, all those nuts and bolts that I want to upgrade to stainless or plated.
Our garage nights have been intermittent during the winter, but the other evening Pete and I did get some way along with fitting new rear linkage bearings and partly shooting an episode about it. It was fucking cold in that garage.
The swingarm pivot bearings still need finishing off and I need to line Pete up to help me do this. Hopefully I’ll get my caliper bracket cleaned up with a DIY soda blaster we’re going to try out. Trent found some plans on the net and our Twitter followers will know that I’ve bought 5kg of baking soda, a duster gun and some other bits for the project – stay tuned, or as we say, stick with us, to see how this turns out!
I could do the swingarm bearings myself but wouldn’t be able to film the process. So I am hopping up and down with anticipation, waiting for Pete and my other garage mates to surface from their winter goings-on.
I have managed to bleed off some of my tinkering energy by fixing Lenny’s and my car, which broke down pretty comprehensively at a terrible time for us. We started shopping for another used car, but I got pissed off at the whole process and decided to dive under the Vectra’s bonnet one last time, braving the mysteries of fuel injection and modern car electronics. I was sure it must be one of those pricey oxygen sensors or throttle position whatsits I’ve heard about.
After a few hours I nailed it. The car’s problems were completely old-school. The spark plug leads were worn out and causing cross-firing between the cylinders (as night fell I could see sparks flying all over the cylinder head). And the alternator was shot. It reinforces the mantra: check the simple things first. The feeling of triumph I got from fixing the bloody car wiped away all the stress and frustration of it breaking down in the first place.
I’m keen to get back on the bike too, but to be honest it’s the spannering rather than the riding that has got me preoccupied right now. I want to get the rear end back on my bike more for the sake of seeing a job done to my liking than for the fact that I’ll actually be able to ride the thing again.