Friday, 4 July 2008

Troublesome Mech

On Monday I discovered that my front mech was stuffed. A tiny, but vital, piece of metal had broken off between me loading the bike in the car on Sunday night and getting it out in London on Monday morning. "Easy" you cry "just replace the mech". If only things were that easy.

I managed to get a new mech from Evans Cycles on Monday night. The expert in the shop looked at my bike, a Giant SCR 2.0, and sold me a replacement front derailleur. My Giant came equipped with a Shimano Tiagra triple at the front, nothing exotic, just standard kit. At least that is what I thought. However, it turns out there are two types of Tiagra triple braze-on front derailleur, a 4503 and a 4403. The inner plate on the cage of the 4503 is bigger than that on the 4403 which means that with the incorrect part fitted the cage jams against the middle chainring when you try to shift onto the large one.

Obviously I was not pleased about this, but it was a mistake and I felt sure the bike shop would correct it and send me on my way with a new derailleur. Well it took about 15 minutes explaining the problem again and again to various staff members in the shop before someone grasped what was wrong. Unfortunately they don't stock the part but offered to order it for me, which would take 7-21 days. Since it is my big race at Bournemouth this weekend that was no use, Evans agreed to give me a refund and sent me on my way, running to work.

Not to worry, at lunch time I could head to Cycle Surgery, where I originally brought the bike, where they were bound to have one. Or not as it turns out. Again, they were very helpful and offered to order one but that is no use to me, so back to the office I went. Time for Plan C.

Plan C was the Internet. Googling for the required part didn't produce half as many hits as I would have liked but I managed to find somewhere that had one and offered next day delivery. So I placed my order with SJS Cycles at 13:20, 40 minutes before the 14:00 deadline for next day delivery, and parted with the additional cash required for such fast service. Wednesday was spent nervously waiting for the mailroom to phone me telling me my parcel had arrived. A call to SJS at 16:00 confirmed the parcel had been sent the day before and they reassured me that it would arrive. Luckily, I am used to disappointment at work so it wasn't a great shock when it didn't turn up.

Wednesday evening was spent leaving snotty messages on answerphones and composing whining emails. To their credit SJS phoned me first thing on Thursday morning, apologised and offered to refund my postage and packing. Apparently, they had sent the parcel on time but the couriers had let them down. That was all well and good, but a refund wasn't going to change gears for me on Sunday. Thankfully, the parcel arrived early that morning and everyone in the office watched as I opened it. It's possible I may have mentioned my problem to one or two people and I think they were worried what would happen if I there was another problem. Happily, my order looks to be complete and correct. I say "looks to be" because I haven't had chance to fit it yet. On Thursday night I travel from London back home to Somerset so I haven't had chance to fit the new mech yet and I will not get much chance to test it out before Sunday which doesn't fill me with confidence.

Another downside of my lack of bike for the week is that I have run to work and back every day this week. It is not a huge distance, about 6.5K each way, but it is rather more running that I wanted to be doing this week. My legs feel quite heavy at the moment, if I get a chance I will sit in a cold bath for a while tonight. Big if though as I need to fit and test the new derailleur before 19:30 when I am being forced to go to a party.

No-one ever said life was easy, but does it really have to be so hard all the time?

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