Thursday, July 1, 2010

And back again...

Well, it was up, up, up, then down, down down. Yep, day one was all uphill. Second day was coasting back down again. The escape was probably doomed for a several reasons. Mainly for lack of fully loaded practice ride I think. Problems started from lack of planning;

The danger of the large Go-Getters is that you can fool yourself into leave packing until the end, thinking that you can throw it all in the bags. And you can. However, the packing doesn't get that much scrutiny with this method. On checking during the inevitable repack on the road I found that I had things that should never have made it onto the bags in the first place -> metal files, spray tins of paint, large squirt gun tubes of glue, saws, more than once set of some tools, rolls of leather, etc. There were bags wrapped in plastic, that I wasn't game to open, for fear of what I'd find inside them.

With such large bags, everyone feels that you have space to carry - well everything. I had planned to take some back roads, figuring on about 4 days between towns. I had some pasta, soup, dried peas, sultanas for this. I stopped and repacked when it started to shower - as I'd just left bags sitting on the back rack. I ended up with over half of one Go-Getters filled with food! This is an insane amount for one person. Not only that, but some of the stuff was straight out of the fridge - damp - wrapped in plastic, in panniers, in the sun (when it appeared - always when creeping upwards), was making for a soup. I consumed way more than I wanted that night and next morning, trying to avoid mould, and to free up space. I don't think you can claim lightening of the load, when you eat it... I still had stuff that went back in the fridge when I returned.

The sun when it was out - I had a thermometer, it hit close to 40 before I noticed and put it under cover. Humidity was up there - I was a mass of sweat. The day was a mix of showers, sun, showers. I didn't bother with wet gear - was wet enough from sweating.

I think it is the chain tensioner which is causing problems. It had been behaving without a problem in test rides, but it didn't play well with the loaded bags. Something was slipping/jumping. I don't think it is the hub - as it has never skipped before, and has 3000km on it. If I pretended I had a single speed - the chain would not skip if I was travelling slow enough, no matter what the gear. Chain skip occured more in the higher gears than the low. The low gears, I had to be spinning crazyily to have it happen. My thinking is that at the faster speed, the road bumps gave the chain that bit more bounce, to press outwards just enough enough to jump a tooth or two. I've taken the chain guard off to see better what's happening - but that far back, its hard to see. I tried to simimulate the problem pedalling with the front brake on - but unless I go fast enough, there isn't a problem.  So, going to change the chain tensioner to the two wheel versions. This will cause the chain to hang lower, destroying my nice chain line, but such is life.

Update this morning: I went for a ride with the usual ride stuff on and had no problems - much as I tried. Returned and had someone sit on the back and watch while I pedaled, then we swapped. Me pedaling,  it would skip. Hard to tell what it is though. When I was on the back, it only happened a couple times. Neither of us could see the chain jumping  - but it is hard to tell. Feels like and sounds like its jumping a link. I do have a half link and a joiner link, but it can happen too often for it to be those two links - which are at the same spot. Need to be moving to have it happen. Going to change the tensioner, change the chain - remove the half link and the joiner link, change the oil in the hub. See what that gives. Hope it isn't the hub, but still think that it can't be - its given 3000km of trouble free usage, though admittedly, I've probably not loaded it with 80kg plus of weight.

There's no denying it was a heavy load. For instance, with all the food only in one Go-Getter, I could not pick it up one handed. Thats before adding on the tent, tools, junk and water. The bags fully loaded - were a struggle to even pick up. But I wasn't out of space to stack more stuff on if I wanted to.

How did it handle - like a dream (not the nightmare ones). Yes you could feel it was heavy - I used low gear lots - just sit and spin. Skipping chain helped with this - I had to resist my temptation to push harder gears. It bounced happily over railway lines and pot holes I didn't manage to avoid. It didn't feel unstable. There was no flex - standing an pedalling was - well, just like standing and pedalling on your bike. Better than my MTB with rack and gear - the rack used to sway. No sway here. Downhill speeds of just over 50km/hr didn't present any problems either - stable at speed.  A benefit of the weight I think is that semitrailers and B-doubles didn't blow me about.  The upright seating is a real bonus - much easier on my arms and shoulders. Though, for only two days that isn't saying a lot.

So, in the end I had the choice of pushing on for a small town to sit and wait for a different chain tensioner, or retuning to base (so to speak). It seemed a better idea to return.  It was it was downhill, I could off load the stuff on my family for them to use, and the local council helped with my choice. They were spraying from the camp ground up the road. I spent some time waiting for them to get away, but after pedalling up for a bit, I caught up to them. Then they stayed just infront of me.  I didn't want to breath poison spray all day following them. So turned downhill.

One nice thing - riding along, looking over the side into the water - saw a platypus swimming along.  Only got to see it as I was going slow along the edge of the road. No chance of any motorist seeing it.