Thursday, June 22

Handie Meh

That broken XTR Trail lever thing that happened moments before the last stage of the Trans-Sylvania Epic that had me riding with a glob of Gorilla Tape replacing the part that keeps my finger from slipping off the end?

It bothered me on a physical level as much as it did a mental level the entire day.  My chi was in a sad state.  Life was unbalanced.

It bothered me enough that the first time I stopped for gas on the way home the next day, I sent a text to both Donald and Bryan at Bike Source.

"Can you order please and thank."

After I unloaded the car of all my stage race paraphernalia, I went to work on the broken lever to see if first of all, I could remove it myself.  Secondly, would I be able to figure out how to put it back together?

It looked simple enough.

So, the new lever blade showed up the next week, and that evening I went about putting it all back into place after a long week of staring at my sad lever-less bike just sitting there.

The whole thing kinda has four pieces... sorta.  I mean, it comes out of the bag altogether, but when you go to slide the pivot pin back into place, you need to align the holes in the lever with the hole in the Servo Wave mechanism and the two tiny springs... which appear to be captured in place, but mebbe not.

It probably took me a half hour of struggling and most of a beer in my poorly lit bike room to get it all to agree to fit back together.

Now, if you've never fondled a Servo Wave equipped lever before, it has this little bit of play that allows you to pull the lever away from the direction of normal use.  All I know is that everything went back together and the brake actuated the pistons so whatever.

And then my next few rides were on my other bike and then I head to Kanawha State Forest and then I roll around in the parking lot and then I realize that something's wrong.


The lever is just flopping around in the resting position.  It still makes the brakes work, but something is definitely not bueno in the world.

Were we incorrect in thinking that there was no left/right specificity for the lever blades?

Was something else wrong with the brake?

Did I not put the blade in correctly?

Ding ding.  More than likely.

I end up thinking about it the whole ride, frustrated with myself for not paying attention when I took it apart, but also that I didn't bother taking the bike outside for a spin when I was done.

Back at the hotel, I was so tempted to take it all apart.  I had tossed the Topeak Ratchet Rocket Lite NTX in my messenger bag before leaving home, thinking that it couldn't hurt to have it just in case I needed it.
I also knew that this was our "couples" vacation.  I shouldn't be in the hotel room messing with something just because my anal compulsion can't bear occupying same space with a malfunctioning bike part.  That doesn't mean I didn't think about it every fifteen minutes tho.

A long, sweaty drive home in the Honda Fit of Rage, unload the car, fill the washing machine with dirty clothes, hear The Pie jump in the shower... grab a beer and head down to the bike room.

I stare angrily at the confounding brake lever blade, and shine a light on the left one that was assembled correctly looking for a clue.  Put things in, pull them out, in, out, in, out... putting the pin back in place and taking it back out again.  The entire time, I'm thinking about the whole "The definition of insanity is..." thing.

There was a point when I thought about taking it to the shop.  They were still open, and they would get a good laugh at my expense.  I also considered just letting it wait until I had time later in the week, but I just couldn't.

At this point, it wasn't about fixing the lever on a bike I wasn't going to be riding for a week.  It was about victory or defeat.  I didn't want to be beat by a stupid bike part.


And then the whole assembly fell to the floor and the springs that I thought were captured were no longer.  They went... wherever it is that things go when they hit the floor in my bike room.  The Shadowy Place.


On my hands and knees, now cursing the soul of the person who knocked my bike over twenty days ago, unknowingly busting my lever.  I've lost at least one hour in labor and a small bit of my sanity at this point.

I find the springs and now look at the old lever and do what I can to make the two look alike (aside from the broke off bit) without blowing the springs out of that one as well.

I make the assumption that if what I was doing was wrong, I need to do the ass opposite.  Orientate the largest spring differently, shove it in place... the alignment of the tiny bits is awful.  Fiddle, wiggle, poke...


And that's what it was all about in the first place.  I go about the rest of my evening, and every time I pass the bike still sitting on the floor, I can't help but give the lever a squeeze.

Perfecting the Seven Minute Breakfast™.  Finding a rogue sock gone missing in a laundry incident.  Sorting out the reason why my air conditioning didn't work on a hot drive home from West Virginia.  Fixing a fucking brake lever... a second time... but correctly.

Little man victories.  No podiums.  No high fives.  No champagne.

But there's always beer.  Always.


Ari said...

I have lost so much little stuff at the bike shop never ever ever to be found again. Where the bell does it go?????

Chris said...

rogue missing swiftwick socks are the WORST ... i emailed them once asking if i could buy a single merino sock ( no was the answer )

fletch said...


Anonymous said...

i was going to hate on your post . . . but then it ended well.