Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bike Maintenance, Routine and Otherwise

 Our original plan had been to ride to Kanchanaburi on Tuesday, but once we remembered all the niggling maintenance items that needed attention, and since the hotel had a lovely, flat parking lot in which to work, we decided to stay one more day. Before we could even start on such things as oil changes and valve adjustments, the solid coat of India poop-mud had to come off. Colin had seen the shuttle driver and a couple of other hotel employees washing the shuttle van with a hose out front, so I asked if we could use it and was granted permission and an offer of buckets and rags as well (I think they were just embarrassed to have such filthy bikes in their parking lot). While I got to work with the hose, Colin walked out to find a some oil. He returned with oil and what looked like a toilet brush, which worked wonders on the undercarriage and engine fins! After several “lather, rinse, and repeat” cycles and a lot of “pthuhs” to spit what sprayed off the bikes and into my face out, you could actually see metal. We let them dry and walked down the street to look for some lunch while we waited.

Lunch was more soup, this time, the seafood variety bowl. At the bottom was a pile of thin egg noodles, topped with whitish and very firm meatballs, a white wonton-looking thing, a couple of wrinkly tan slices, and some ground stuff. None of it looked particularly appealing, but each item tasted fishy and slightly different from the others, and it was all surprisingly good. I'd order it again in a heartbeat.

We walked back to the hotel, saw our now blue again bikes were dry, and got down to business. First up was Colin's bike for a straightforward and hitch-free oil change and valve adjustment.

Next up, was my bike for the same jobs plus an “adjustment” (with the hammer) of the chain cover, since I'd heard some noise coming from the chain area on the way to Kathmandu, which typically means the chain rubbed the cover and bent it again. When Colin removed the chain cover, he realized that the sprocket was loose again, which was what left me sitting paralyzed in the middle of the road in Windhoek, smiling at oncoming drivers. We took off the rear wheel, and two nuts fell out. Yay. Colin took off the hub, and the two remaining nuts that hold the sprocket were also very loose. Before we put everything back together, we used a ton of Loc-tite (we used it last time as well, but does it have a useful life expectancy?) to hopefully keep it from happening again. Once we put the butt-end of my bike back together, everything else was easy. After all the maintenance was complete and the bikes buttoned up, we went to our room and cleaned up, 'cause we were nasty. As it was now dinnertime, and while we worked on the bikes they were setting up for the night market and it smelled really good, we wandered back over there for some nummies.
Having had soup of some variety for one meal each day since we arrived, we decided to branch out a little this evening. In addition to having food stands with seating areas, many vendors in the market sell food for takeaway. We decided to go that route this evening, so while I ran back to the room and grabbed our bowls and forks, Re bought us some rice and some of the most delicious pork I have ever eaten. Pork: it's the meat of kings. (you really must click this link) Re and I arranged to meet at the picnic tables in front of our hotel, but Re hadn't returned yet, so I ran over to the 7Eleven for some soda waters. I met her at the picnic tables, and she produced what was perhaps the most beautiful sight in the world. In addition to the sliced, grilled pork, she had two pork lollipops. Imagine, if you will, a 1/4” thick piece of pork approximately 2.5” x 4” threaded on a wooden skewer. It was marinated in a sweet sauce, so once it was grilled, the sauce caramelized to make a slightly crunchy and sweet coating. The price for such deliciousness? About 30 cents each. Yum! After eating our lollipops, we dug into even more delicious grilled pork and rice and a really good salad. Apparently, we weren't the only ones salivating over the smell of the pork, as we were soon joined by a rather pregnant cat circling our feet. My mom taught me it was good to share with the less fortunate, so we happily dropped some bits of meat on the ground for our new best friend. After dinner, we waddled back up to the room and spent the rest of the evening repacking our bags, because tomorrow, we ride to Kanchanaburi.

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