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Adventuring 2.0 – Dangerboy Loses it.

September 1, 2011

I’d planned to get off-island this weekend and head to Tinian.  The minimalist in me, however, couldn’t see ponying up the $700 for a three day tour of an island with 3,000 people, one casino catering to the Chinese, and one gas station.  A day trip, maybe, but three days?

Nope.

I’ve been going through a cycling withdrawal in addition to motorcycle madness.  While the scoot worked well on pavement, it really took a beating off-road.  There’s a good bike shop on-island, but a rideable bike starts at $300.  Seems a bit much to spend on a bike to be used for a few months, possibly, so the Pheebs and I held off.

Meanwhile, I’m hellbent on losing weight again.  Gives me something to do while I wait to be with the Pheebs.  We have a fitness room in the apartment complex and it’s well equipped, but spending a half hour a day staring at a wall while I pedal/run just doesn’t get it for me.

I was in Kmart the other day buying something – I don’t recall what – and happened to walk thru the bike aisle.

They were marked down, a goofy homage to central office planning.  In the tropics, the best riding is from November to May – the time Midwestern HQ offices are socked in with snow.  The world looks remarkably like the view out their office window, I’ve heard, so if it’s getting cold one marks down the summer stuff.

Such is the case with bikes on Guam.

The locals know this – and there’s a run on bikes every September.  One week the rack’s full, the next – empty.

I’d eyed an urban bike, as it looked decent enough.  Closer inspection revealed it to be a clunky cheap-assed chinese piece of shit.

Pass.  Looked at a “Schwinn” which closely resembled the old Collegiate of my youth, save for it being a pis-poor copy of the real deal.

In the meantime, a local dad looked over a bike for his ten-year-old son.  He turned to the clerk and asked, “Can you put this bike in the right gear for my son before we leave?  I don’t want it to be too hard for him to pedal.”

WHAAT?

The clerk tried to explain the gears are easy to change – to no avail.  The guy bought a 21 speed mountain bike fully intent on never touching the gear selector – an indexed quick change unit.

Sheesh.

The dad wheeled the bike to the cash register, eyeing the gear cluster with deep suspicion.

It was my turn.  There was a halfway-decent looking mountain bike on the top rack – with a 20% discount, the bike would go out the door for under $200.  I can swing that, but the bike doesn’t have a markdown sticker.

“is that one on sale?” I query.

“Nope.”

“Are you sure?  I looked online and all bikes were marked down, according to the website.”

I get an eye roll from the clerk.  He gets out a ladder, climbs up, pulls the price tag off the bike and wanders off to check.

15 minutes later, he returns.

“Invalid stock number.”  He turns to walk away, as if that’s that.  Can’t sell something with an invalid number.  I’m not so easily dissuaded, especially when faced with apathetic service.  You’re gonna work now, whether you like it or not.

“Of COURSE it’s an invalid stock number – you pulled the wrong one,” I answered in an even tone,  “the RIGHT one is on the rear frame stay”.

A deep sigh emanates from the depth of the clerk.  He gives me a long look, heads up the ladder again, retrieves the tag.  Coming down the ladder, I get the look again.  I smile sweetly.

Fifteen minutes later, he returns.

“Yah.  It’s on sale.”

“Well – go up there and get it!”

Combination sigh and eyeroll.  The bike is on the top rack about 10′ off the store floor.  It’s been up there a while, as locals refuse to buy a bike for more than $150.  Rear tire is stuck in the rack; clerk’s frustration level is so high at this point he nearly dumps his ladder shaking the bejeebers out of the bike as if a threat of physical violence will cower the bike into compliance.  The bike came free.

I wouldn’t say he threw the bike at me – but it wasn’t handed over gently, either.  If it’s possible to do a lateral with a mountain bike from atop a 12′ ladder, that would be about right.

Clerk descends; commences storing the ladder . I get one more whack at this guy.

A slow smile creeps across my lips.

“Tires are flat.”  I was going to let him connect the dots.

“Yah.”

“Well – I’m riding it home, and I can’t do that on flat tires.  If you want, I’ll pump them up myself.”  I reached for a hand pump on the display rack.

“NO!  You can’t do that!”  He challenged.

“Well – they’re not gonna fill themselves up….”

If it’s possible to to put air in tires with malice, the clerk did so quite masterfully.

“THERE!    YOU HAVE AIR!”  Veins bulged on his neck.

“Umm….it’s not enough.”

I have to hand it to the guy – if the tables were turned, I would have lost it right then and there.  He took a deep breath, added another half dozen pumps to each tire, screwed the caps on, turned and walked away.

Paid for the bike and rode it home…

Two things you must understand.  First, Kmart bikes are assembled, I believe, by simpletons only recently introduced to tools.  Nothing is tight nor straight, and the operation of controls are sketchy at best.  The advertisement of Free Assembly is the functional equivalent of calling a stick of JuicyFruit gum a meal.  Second, the Kmart sits atop a bluff, and the elevation change from the parking lot to my doorstep is about 250′ in a quarter-mile.  On a bike, one may hit 40 MPH on this hill.

I’m on wobbly facsimile of a bike with untried brakes heading to the bottom of Dead Man’s curve.

Smart.

Well, I made it and was able to get the bike into the apartment without incident.

If you know me, you know that I can’t stand stickers, reflectors or poorly prepped equipment.  This bike had all three in spades.

So I set to work.

3-1/2 hours later, I’d removed:

  • 15 stickers
  • 8 reflectors
  • and a pound and a half of extraneous crap.

In addition, I’d  effectively torn down an rebuilt the bike, although I’ve not checked the shifters.

It ended up looking like this:

I got on the bike in the hallway, and discovered the frame was about one size too small for me.

Two trips to the bike store later, this was resolved, and the bike now fits – long seat post with micrometer adjustment, and an adjustable long handlebar stem make it work.

Its intended use?  Twofold.  One, to get some exercise whilst exploring, thus losing weight.  Two, to get into some of the more interesting areas of the island.

Wish me luck – and that the bike doesn’t fold like a cheap card table as it’s put though its paces.  If so, the clerk gets the last laugh.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. jeff permalink
    September 1, 2011 6:54 am

    when you get home you card hard tail that thing & re lower the seat 🙂

    • dangerboyandpixie permalink*
      September 1, 2011 7:08 am

      The locals love bikes like this – I’m gonna drill out a couple parts of the frame and components, call it a custom and sell it for $500.

      Took it for a short ride today (5 miles). it rode a lot better than I thought it would. Yes – it’s slower than a roadie with a bunch of carbon; but one may hammer curbs with abandon and not sprain a wrist or rupture a testicle.

      I’m gonna play with it and see where it lays out. Already cut 2″ off the handlebars; will black out the gear cluster and maybe do some strategic drilling over the weekend.

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