Friday, February 6, 2009

2/3/2009 - Continuing my Unofficial Tour of New Zealand Bike Shops

I actually DID get up relatively early the next morning. It is go time, and I have a fairly long day ahead (about 60 miles). As I start to push my bike, I notice something. The back wheel does not freely spin. Hmmm - I am pretty sure that "spinning" is high on the official list of "Things that Wheels Do". I leave my stuff at the backpacker's (Duke's is very nice and lets me put it back in the locked room again) to re-visit the fine young man who did the work yesterday. He is, indeed, back, but there is another guy there today as well.

At least we are on the same page today - he agrees that it should be spinning. After about an hour, with some consulting with the older guy in the shop, I head out. And immediately return, as it goes back to its prior state after a block.

Return again, and this time they REALLY get into the guts of the hub. The problem, as it turns out, is that the splines holding the gears are loose. They tighten it down, true the wheel, and off I go with my new axle.

The day is not the bright, happy, fairytale day, but more of a gray premonition.

IMGP1558.JPG"Greymouth" as only the sky can tell it.

The ride is nice and flat at this stage, and I make incredible time. I take back all of the negative comments about the bike shop I made yesterday. I am doing 17mph on the flats, and it feels great.

IMGP1559.JPGA shared train/road bridge. There were a lot of various dangerous crevasses and whatnot due to the complexities of having both run the same spot - there weren't even any train lights or gates. Darwin rules, baby. This sign seems to warn you by saying, "Don't ride a bike without a front wheel into a hole or you will leap forward and transform into a dog." It really does speak the international language of "What?"

Looking back, I think that a really good night's sleep at Duke's Backpacker may have been more the reason for my morning burst of speed. Suddenly, about 15 miles in, I feel a sudden deceleration and the rear wheel locks up. Getting just a bit too used to this sensation, I am out of my clips in no time. The culprit? You guessed it, the rear axle again. Twisted off, this time.

IMGP1560.JPGThe offending part. Or, at least, most of it - the rest was ejected somewhere in the last 100 meters. The disappointment in my face has less to do with the breakdown and more to do with the excellent rhythm that I had going for me this morning, now broken as well.

Nothing to do but hitch again. I really work the puppy dog look this time, a poor, lost soul who is NOT going to knife you, just needs a quick ride. . .

Yet again, it takes only 15 minutes. My hero of the day is a "reformed cyclist" who used to be overweight and depressed, but started biking as a way to cope with both. He now cycles at least once a day, has lost an incredible amount of weight, and owns two service centers (one in Hokitika, one in Greymouth). Really nice guy, we get on very well and he drops me by the bike shop. In Hokitika - I figure there is no gain in going backwards, plus Tenderfoot the Wondermechanic has not done me any favors back in Greymouth.

This new bike shop is actually the local fishing/hunting/bike/swimming/running/fixit shop. The proprietor is an older man in the back, and is obviously busy. I leave my wheel in his hopefully capable hands, and he asks me to return "later" to pick it up. I get to visit scenic Hokitika with my time, actually a very nice little town despite the gray of the day.

IMGP1561.JPGLook under his right hand and you will see where someone has spelled the town's name in driftwood. His left leg is made of driftwood as well. Actually a little creepy in a "hippy Terminator" sort of way.

IMGP1563.JPGIt was also a day of art, where people make the best artwork they can out of whatever has washed up on the beach. This was one of my favorites, though I'm a bit stuck on the symbolism other than the overly-concrete "don't step in any obvious mantraps on the beach, or you will end up upside-down and on display."

After a nice lunch and reading the paper, I return around 1:15PM. He hasn't even looked at it yet. Out again, I do some grocery shopping and return. This time, he has taken it apart, and formally proven what I had surmised - the last shop screwed it up. The true axle is too far on one side, certain nuts are too tight, and the dust cap is on wrong. This time, I hang around. By then end of things, he has removed the entire set of bearings, cleaned and set them, and re-greased and repaired the hub properly. It is just about 4PM when everything is back on the bike. NZ$48. Ah, well, at least I'm not paying gas money by biking.

It is about 35 miles to my planned target for the night. I decide to go for it, as it doesn't get dark until about 8:30PM.

IMGP1564.JPGJust out of Hokitika. Trivia question: Which direction do the winds typically blow? Show your work.

IMGP1566.JPGFurther on, as I get into trees. It really is pleasant at this point as some of the clouds have broken up. Traffic is nice and light, too.

The sun comes out, and I finally need sunscreen again. It is soon quite hot, and I enjoy any shade that crosses the road.

IMGP1567.JPGBack out of the trees, back to the cattle and sheep.

Somewhere along the way, the clouds reconvene and decide to spit some rain down. Nothing heavy, though, and it actually feels nice and cool. Before long, I arrive at Lake Ianthe at a DOC campsite (read: cheap, with pit toilets). The lake is amazing looking as I descend toward the actual campground.

IMGP1568.JPGLake Ianthe, as it turns out, the gateway to Black Fly Land.

Right as I pull in, it starts showering again, but I manage to avoid major puddles in the tent.

IMGP1570.JPGHoods are making a comeback.

Grab some dinner (again, as I left my stove in Masterton, it was PB&J) and crash for the night. My goal tomorrow is Franz Josef Glacier, another 60 miles.

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