Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Takaka Hill

On Friday while cycling up Takaka Hill there was a curious squeak-squeak-squeak noise from round a corner, whence suddenly appeared this:

It continued to squeak all the way down the hill below us. It now has a flat roof over the top, prob. to keep the sun off though my spies tell me that it's a solar panel for power-assist. Even so I admit to being hugely impressed that anyone could have ridden over the hill on it. (Identified here)

One normally thinks of cycling over Takaka Hill as dangerous, and flying as safe, but since 239 people have vanished in the mystery of the Malaysian aeroplane all statistics have gone out of the window. For seventeen days the world has paused to puzzle over what happened. Warships have been diverted and aircraft are scouring the ocean for signs of wreckage. We're a wonderfully generous species in caring for one another. I can't imagine what the search for the dead bodies would have cost.

Meanwhile 4,000 children died of starvation today, and another 4,000 died yesterday, and a third 4,000 died the day before. Luckily they're all poor so they don't matter and certainly aren't worth the world's media making a fuss about. We're a wonderfully selective species in choosing what and who to care for.

Meanwhiler, we continue to buy more and bigger television screens which demand more and more power, and we now fit them to several walls of our houses to save the inconvenience of having to stay in one room while watching Top Gear, and the people who try to inform us that a quarter of the atmosphere's excess carbon dioxide has been released since 2,000 continue to be ignored by the world's businessmen and politicians and farmers and doctors and office personnel and road repair men and supermarket checkout-chicks and - well, basically, all of us. Serious analysis tells us that the world can afford for all of us to live like the Chinese, which means that we have to get rid of everything we own and maybe keep the fridge, a plastic washing-up bowl, and a bicycle or (while the oil lasts) a small moped if we're especially privileged. This means all of us wherever we live and it includes Germans, the French Finnish and Dutch; the Swedes, Danes, and Norwegians; the people of Israel; Tony Abbott  and Rex Tillerson ; and the worthy citizens of Dubai. (The English needn't: they're a Special Case.)

Naturally this perturbs me greatly, because I have just re-commissioned my lightweight Peugeot with a pair of 700c wheels I found at the dump, only one of which needed a couple of new spokes. I got the gears, cables, changers, levers, chainrings, cluster, bars and stem off the Bike Heap, though the chainring is from a MTB and has 175mm cranks which I don't much like. But with a 42/32/22 and a 14-28 I can climb Takaka Hill without my kneecaps popping off, so it's a minor inconvenience. And the whole weighs no more than 22lbs, as all good bikes should. 

 Yet another hack bike.

But that still means I have too many bikes. It was, admittedly, a free bike because someone gave me the frame but free bikes cost the following:
$69 for pedals (the old ones were knackered and didn't fit my cleats)
$140 for a saddle (no decent saddle ever comes off the dump. Good saddles are only bought by experienced cyclists and they've too much sense to throw them away.)
$40 each for tyres (good tyres are the key to easy riding. Always. No exceptions.)
$11 each for inner tubes. (I never begrudge paying for them. The bike shop has to make a profit somehow or it will go broke and I won't have a ready source of spares nor a skilled mechanic to offer friendly advice.)
So that's a total of $311, which isn't as free as I shall tell my wife. (Don't worry, I can say what I like here. Wives never look at your blog.)

Note cunning item 1: puncture repair kit rubber-banded to steering head tube, and cunning item 2: handbrake made out of interlooped rubber bands cut from an inner tube. This Hugely Clever Invention (I thought of it, though I 'spect quite a lot of other people have too) saves having a kickstand.

And never fear, I am very humane too, and shall cycle up Takaka Hill tomorrow and see if the elevation means I can help spot the wreckage of MH370.

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