January and February are pretty depressing months for me. The sun never seems to rise in the North West, and on those rare days when it does you blink and you miss it.
Struggling with a Vitamin D deficiency, I have to get my kicks elsewhere: I retreat to the garage… or the man cave.
I love my garage. It’s kitted out as an untidy workshop. It’s got a dartboard, a telly (used for digital radio most of the time), a bike stand, a tool box, a permanently charged mug of tea and plenty of light. At this time of the year, it’s a full-time bike shed as my trusty steeds go through their annual service. It’s also a time to contemplate upgrades and new builds, but more of that later.
This year, a new drive train is set to go on the Thorn Audax, while the Club Tour is due for a rear hub service, new brakes, a new chainset and a layback seat post to give me just a bit more room in pursuit of that ideal riding position.
Working on bikes gives me a deep sense of calm, equal to riding them. It must be an alpha brainwave thing, or because it is completely at odds with my day-to-day job. I love working with my hands, solving mechanical problems, the permanently dirty fingernails, the smell of bike oil and degreaser. It’s heaven.
A test ride soon confirms this, or otherwise, and it might be a case of getting the bike back in the stand for some more fettling until things are perfect, or as perfect as I can make them.
I’m a fairly competent mechanic, but am always keen to learn new skills. King of all for the aspiring bike twiddler has to be wheelbuilding and I hope one day to master this skill… this art. It’s all about practice and patience and is definitely a task for the man-cave.
And the new build? I’ve just ordered a Surly Troll frame to replace my Kona Dew Drop, which I loved but was not really adequate for some of the more technical trails near my home. Proceeds from the sale of the Dew are funding this new project.
The Troll is butt ugly, but incredibly versatile. There’s plenty of information on this steed at Cass Gilbert’s excellent and inspiring blog. I’ll build it simply at the start, using spares from the parts bin, with a view to upgrades over time and more deeply pleasurable hours fettling in the garage.
Bring it on.