The Butterfly in My Old Hood

My co-workers wanted to get me a retirement present. Of course, they know about my bicycling habit so they decided to feed my addiction. Kelly sat right outside my office. I convinced her to try bike commuting. Her schedule didn’t allow her to do it much but she was persistent. She even braved flooding on one of her commutes.

Kellyflood

We’re having fun, right Kelly? The waters receded. She survived.

Chip, Kelly’s husband, bought her a new bike for Christmas. About three weeks before I retired she asked me where to get her bike worked on. Knowing where she lives I recommended two places, Spokes Etc. in Alexandria where I bought The Mule, and Papillon Cycles in Arlington. When I lived in the Ballston neighborhood of Arlington, Papillon was the closest shop.

About 17 years ago The stem (the part the handlebars attach to) on The Mule kept coming loose. I had it tightened over and over again and still it came loose. So I called Papillon and explained my conundrum to Bailey, the owner. Bailey didn’t know what else he could do to help me but he referred me to Paul, a mechanic who at the time worked at CityBikes in DC. (Paul now works for Bicycle Space.) Paul fixed the problem in five minutes with a very thin washer. So because Bailey was so helpful, The Mule lives.

(Side note: the people of BikeDC are super lucky to have so many good bike shops. There are many more than the ones in this post.)

Kelly wasn’t really looking for a place to get her bike repaired. She was looking for a shop that I liked where she could buy me a gift certificate on behalf of my co-workers.

For the last few weeks the shifting on my Cross Check has been messed up. I’ve tried to fix it. And my local Spokes shop tried to fix it. It worked fine in the mechanic’s stand at the bike shop but didn’t work well at all on the road.

I was going to have Spokes replace the shifter cable and the housing (the black plastic casing through which the cable runs). On a whim I decided to take it Papillon to use my gift certificate.

John, the mechanic, greeted me and we put the bike up on a stand. He loosened the housing and examined the cable. It looked like it was brand new. He moved it back and forth through the housing. It moved freely. Next, he examined the teeth on the cassette (the gears in back) and the alignment of the derailler with the cassette. All looked good. Then he ran the chain through the gears. Once, twice, three times. We could barely hear the chain clattering a bit in the one offending gear. He released tension on the chain by dialing the barrel adjuster about 1/4 turn. Then he shifted it over and over again. No clattering.

I took it out for a test ride. I tried and tried to get the chain to skip. In every gear. It shifted properly up and down.

Happy face.

Mission accomplished.

Thanks to John, to sneaky Kelly, and my co-workers.

 

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