Across Continents

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Bicycle Repair Man

March 20th, 2009

Fair to say that there are few sights more scary than yours truly with tools – and they needn’t be the powered variety. Turns out that spanner I had was actually a screwdriver, and I never did get to meet the Welsh chap it belonged to… (Philips). So, achieving my City & Guilds Cycle Maintenance qualification earlier today is something I feel rather more proud of than I’d ever have imagined I would.  It’s also a pretty big testament to the teaching skills – and immense patience and understanding – of Dewi, my instructor at Cyclewales.net.  Handy really, as we had to resort to using a hacksaw to free one of his specialist tools from my expedition cycle…

This last week up in North Wales has been really satisfying, not just for the cycle technical skills gleaned, but being on course with other touring cyclists. Lots of hints and tips exchanged by all – many from one of my fellow students, Stephen Lord, author of the ‘Adventure Cycle-touring Handbook’ (published by Trailblazer), a genuine must-read for tourers. There’s also been a good deal of friendly banter and humour – always appreciated when building wheels – very satisfying when you finish one, but it can be just a teeny weeny bit frustrating at times.

However, most impressive of all this week has been fellow City & Guilds candidate Colin from Eire – it’s one thing to build yourself a bike from scratch whilst on course, but quite another to road test it by…. errr…. riding it home from North Wales all the way to Southern Ireland – gutsy stuff!

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Take a perfectly serviceable bike….

March 17th, 2009
In the workshop

In the workshop (Photo C Cahill)

Total concentration....

Total concentration.... (Photo C Cahill)

Serious overhauling....

Serious overhauling….

Six months to departure and what better way to mark it by taking a perfectly serviceable expedition bike – and pulling it apart… Irrational? Actually no, better to really understand exactly how it all fits together, and to do this in the relative comfort of CycleWales’ workshop in North Wales rather than attempting it for the first time in a tent in Kazakhstan… That’s the theory at least.

I have to admit that pulling a brand new custom built cycle apart with some pretty serious looking tools – like the one in the photo – does make me feel a little nervous, especially when the bike is worth rather more than my car.  To be fair, that’s probably more a reflection on the sort of cars I’ve driven over the years…

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