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October 6, 2006

It's a hatchet job, but it might just work.

Click on image to play video (high speed connection advised).

LOCATION: Lhatse, Tibet
Longitude: N: 29.65°
Latitude: E: 91.13°
Miles from Singapore: 4440

Earlier today I took a terrifying taxi ride jammed in the back seat with three Tibetans ("hmm, is that Eau de Yak Butter you're all wearing by any chance?") 150 km back to Shigatze in search of a replacement rear rim. I wasn't holding out much hope and my thought was/is to work back to Lhasa if necessary, then fly in a new rim as a last resort. Taking a bus to Kathmandu and back is pretty much out of the question as I'd have to sign onto an expensive 4WD tour to get back into Tibet.

After a hour or so of getting bounced around town like a pinball, directed to one bike shop after another (that only sold bikes, not repaired them) I eventually ended up at a very basic repair shop up a narrow alley miles from where I started my search. The premises and its contents might have been rudimentary, but this was fully compensated by the ingenuity and 'can-do' attitude of the guy who ran it. In remote areas like this people are used to fixing everything because they have to.

The basic problem we faced was needing to marry my 32-spoke rear Japanese made hub (that holds the BOB trailer) to a 36-spoke Chinese made rim. As I would face the same problem in Lhasa I gave the go ahead for surgery, which involved an array of scary looking tools and implements such as drills and large hammers that certainly wouldn't be allowed into the high precision workshop environment of a more sophisticated bike shop.

I won't go into the boring mechanic details, but four hours later I found myself heading back on a bus to Lhatse here with a new wheel in my lap. On a quick test ride around town it looks like it MAY, just may, work. The Japanese chain seems to be shifting between the new Chinese cogs OK (something I was worried might not work well, if at all). Otherwise the only major difference seems to be that I'm now one cog short, which will mean harder work getting up these last four 5,000m passes to Kathmandu. But I'll have a better idea when I load everything up tomorrow morning and see how the new rims handle the amount of weight I'm carrying. I'm concerned about how strong the spokes are, being Chinese metal. But perhaps having 36 spokes will compensate? Tomorrow will tell...


Posted on October 6, 2006 4:02 AM


Oh blimey! Stay calm! 36 is a good number. News: been taken on by C4 as New Directing Talent - have been commissioned to direct a doc about blogs and blogging! Now I am in there - will have another go with x360. Take care and try to laugh when you can despite adversity.


Posted by: astrid [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 7, 2006 11:15 PM