Wednesday, 6 May 2009

He Says – The Ever growing list

He Says – The Ever Growing List...Part 1: The Wheels

Wow has it really been since February since I last sat down to this. In many ways time has flown, in many others is it creeping along at a paralysed snail with viral mononucleosis pace.

Much has happened, and yet nothing has happened. Well I will start with the wheels. I always knew that a weak point of the Africa Twin was the longevity of wheels and that one day I would have to replace the rims (at least). Well the “blizzard of 2009” all 4 cm of it was the death knell for the rims. Okay this is unfair, it was actually the 245,135 tons (metric) between 1 January and 16 February 2009 of salt (England only) that the government put down to combat the 4cm of snow (which if it had not washed in to the ground water would have probably much deeper then the snow ever would be).

The salt corrosion meant I could see the inner tube of the front wheel though the rim, so I had to replace it. Well while I am at it: "I mine as well upgrade the rear wheel from a 17” to an 18”. For the bike geeks: 18” tyre is easier to get outside the western world. Well a day on the phone and net, I found a place that was able and willing to do the job for me and better even they were local to me. Central Wheels. The head boss emailed me and said they could do it and the price was reasonable too.

So, I spend the weekend removing the wheels and cutting (yes cutting) out the hubs, on the 14 of March 09 I drop off my hubs to them, talked with the guys at the shop and made it clear what I wanted. They still said they could do it “no problem”. Only down side was that it was going to take two weeks. Okay not great turn-around time but I left a happy boy. Two weeks later I call them to see when I can pick up my wheels “Oh they wont be ready till next week”.. not so happy now but okay. The next week I call them again to see when I can pick up my wheels “Oh they wont be ready till next week”.. very not so happy now but okay.

Later that week, I get message to call them. Happily, I call them expecting to be told to pick them up. WELL NO! Now 4 weeks later they said “’cus the hub is 32 spokes that they can not do it” although I confirmed with them 2 twice now it is an issue. They also told me that I had to go back to 17” and it is going to cost me £100 more then their original quoted price. To add injury to insult it was also going to take upto 3 more weeks.

Confused I asked…”So you cant do what I want you to do and you are going to charge me £100 more to do something that I neither need you or want you to do.. Ahh no thank you”. I told that that I will not require their service and I will get my hubs back as soon as possible. The guy on the phone actually had the nerve to get snappy with me. If some one can please explain to me how this works that would be wonderful, because I cant see how they expected me to be satisfied with this

. …Not the size rims I want, more money, more time, 3 times more expensive then the best brand of rims, rude customer service… Oh I get it!.. no, no? wait that was gas.. nope still at a loss.

My wonderful wife went out that night to get the hubs, and they did not even know where they were. Nothing labelled, in fairness to them they did change the plastic bags I brought them in to them in.. a months work.. not bad… I think that this sums up their work ethic.

If it is true that it cant be done (which I do not ..believe see below), and it is not just a “oh that looks too hard let try and get out of it thing” why did it take them 4 weeks to figure it out. Surly there should be a “to do list and to order list that you look at WELL BEFORE THE JOB SHOULD START. 3 weeks of no bike because of them.

I spent the next day or so on the phone/net and found no one (in the UK), would do the 17 to 18" conversion and was forced to go back to OEM specs. Interestingly two guys in Australia and 4 in the USA would. Cultural difference?

A Italian company called SanRemo never got back to me, although an Italian speaking friend did get a hold of them, but they would never answer his technical questions. Africa Queens suggested that (although they sell them) San Remo rims would not be up to the overland trip. They suggest their rebuilt Honda ones.

I found that Talon Engineering (UK) was the cheapest place to order a set of OEM sized Excel rims and SS spokes. As Excel is known as the best and they were cheaper then the AQ set up I went with it. Talon did not have my preferred colour in stock and so it had to go out for anodizing. By Friday a week later, I had a big box with rims and spokes. The spokes were also labelled as to their position. Wonderful, that was one worry down (I had no idea other wise where they should go).

Saturday morning I sat down to lace them up. Following the directions I read off the net I completely screwed it up. Nothing fit anywhere. It was going horribly wrong.

Had I made a horrible mistake?

Talon would have built them for me?

Sweat, brought on by utter panic, running down my face. I decided that I had to strip it out and start again. This time ignoring the directions and going by feel, by instinct, by pure manly know how.

The work was slow, my back ached, my fingers bled.. but it worked, in just over an hour the rear rim was laced. The front rim was even quicker and even easier (so much for always read the directions huh?).

By Saturday afternoon, I was enjoying a barbi and looking at my not very round but laced up wheels. Ahh sweet look of partial success. Sunday I had lots of other things to do and only spent an hour trueing the rear, but I did get the rear 90% done, and the first 45 min or so was trying to figure out how to do it. I was not worried as I assumed that this will be a very slow process and take me a few hours each but I have saved a lot of money (over what Central Wheels where going to charge me) and I have gotten Excel wheels in the colour I wanted.

Well it was not till the following Saturday that I was really able to try and get them true. I started with the rear, and was not getting anywhere. So I gave up. I had a crack at the front. It took me less then half hour. Realising what I had done wrong on the rear I started over (again). This time around in about an hour I had the rim true. By the end of the day, there was rubber on both of them and Anubis had wheels again. It was not all that hard in the end. Yes I made many mistakes, but it was “a learn as you go” process and without any one to teach me I was very happy how easy it really was.

Right! Now I can start on the rest of the list.. there is only 157million things to do on it…. and no time at all to do it.

Part 2 The Ever Growing List.. Everything Else (the non-bike tech part).

Well the list of things to do now contains things from: “Sell everything we own” to “ fix a million things on the bike” to “buy everything we need”, to “organise world peace so Mum stops worrying” . Some of the things are easy like oil change to the far more complex like design and build tank panniers and a tank box, rewire this, fix that, invent a thingamajiggy to do a whatsabob. Every night I think of more things that need to be add to the list.

I have spent literally every weekend day working 12+ hours a day in the shed fixing/ bodging/ building something for the bike. Anubis has spent more time in pieces in 2009 then on the road. I have told my bosses that I will be taking a years worth of saved up holidays at the end of my contract. I was expecting a fight over this but there was nothing. Which knowing this man as I do, worries me, he is either 1) happy to see the back of me, or 2) is up to something. The latter is my fear and guess. So I have a month off! It is still not enough time!!! I have started to re-re-re-design the website…I have painted and polished the tank, built 2 more sets of panniers (I am up to 6 now).. I could continue like this for pages. I finish one job only to find 3 more. The list is truly ever growing.

I am in that stage where there is too much to do and not enough time to do it, and so I am more worried then excited. I cannot even see the trip. I know there is something that we are going to be doing but I cant see what. People are always asking me “Oh you must be so excited?” and to which I cant but truthfully reply. “No, not yet.. too much to do”. I know it look like I am just trying to be “cool” but it is the truth.

Panicked - Do I have time to get it all sorted?

- I ordered X a week ago.. Where is it?.. Will it come in time?.

- Which is the best Y to get to do Z?…

Worried - Have I done something wrong?

- Will Q blow up on us?

Nervous- Have I though of everything I need to do?

THERE Is not enough time!!! Ahahahaha……

Ted Simon once said “I am learning, as I make my way through my first continent, that it is remarkably easy to do things, and much more frightening to contemplate them.” That is exactly what I have been doing.

Deep breath!

Sometimes I can step back look at what we are doing realise that it is supposed to be fun, and if something goes “wrong” (and it is not life or death then) that is the point! It is supposed to be an adventure! It is the unexpected that make the best memories.

This trip has made me do things that are outside my “comfort zone” and we have not even left yet. I have dismantled and rebarrelled a lock cylinder, laced a wheel, designed a website, rewired a motorcycle, quit my career, invent a whosawhatsit, and many other things I never even though about doing! This entire trip is about getting outside our norm, our comfort zone, to see and experience new things. Amazingly, I have done a lot of this already. This is the point of travel to me, but I never realised that it can be part of the preparation as well. In many ways the adventure has already begun. Writing this blog entry I am seeing the trip for what it is I am getting outside the nitty-gritty and I am getting excited. So to those that ask:

“Yes, I am excited, I am nervous, I am everything that everyone who has done anything new is. I cant wait. Lets forget the preparation and just go!”