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Monday, 11 July 2011

CocaCola and The Art of Bicycle Maintenance

I'm still feeling underprepared for the trans-Scotland cycle but at least I have spent some time cycling longer distances both on and off-road with a bike set-up similar to that of the big trip. Things have changed, flat pedals to SPDs, lock-on grips to grips and bar-ends, thick tyres to skinnier tyres and shock pressure. One thing that hadn't changed in a while was the seat post. It had been firmly up my rear end for some time as I'd been peddling up hills and over a mixture of fire roads and technical singletrack.

Having moved to Stonehaven, I caught up with an old friend Doug Marchant who showed me some of the faster trails in Fetteresso Woods. Once we got up to the top I did the sensible thing and attempted to lower the seatpost. This is essential to prevent a painfull meeting between saddle and nuts upon landing any drops or jumps. This is when I realised the seatpost was seized.

Below are all the different ways I attempted to unseize the seatpost over the next couple of days. Some of these were tried after reading a really useful website from Sheldon Brown (see image!)

1. Soak in all manor of lubricant. I gave it a spray with chain lube as well as WD40. Although WD40 is not recommended for lubing bits of the bike, I was beginning to get desperate after 24 hrs of soaking.

2. Use a screwdriver to expand the gap in the frame where the seatpost enters and get some more lube down the gap. The problem with this is it does damage the frame a little.

3. Use a mallet. Most problems can either be solved or made emotionally less terrible by hitting it with a mallet. This didn't work.

4. Clamp the saddle in a vice and twits the frame. The best tool for levering the seatpost is the saddle itself. However, the flex that occurs when holding the saddle still in a vice and twisting the frame is a heart-in-mouth few seconds where I really wondered what would give first. Hopefully not the frame.

5. Sawing off the seatpost and sawing the post into segments to peel them from the inside of the frame... but no, I was saved from doing this with some good advice from Cycle World Stonehaven's mechanic, Joe. He advised what I have christened The Coke Enema.

6. The Coke Enema. This involved taking off the bottom bracket and feeding coca cola into the upside-down frame until happy that the seatpost is submerged in the sticky gut-rotting fluid. I then left it over night and with the help and strength of my 10 yr old daughter, hey presto, the seatpost was free!

This could have been a major setback to the trip as being unable to lower my seatpost would have made the steep, rocky descents very dangerous.

With that problem solved, it's full steam ahead in preparation for the trip which gets underway in less than a fortnight. Train tickets to Kyle of Lochalsh now booked.

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