Total Elevation Gain (ft): 2258.6
Weather: Sunny, Warm
Hillbilly Insults: 0
Roadkill: 7 (4Frogs, 3 Unknown)
Bugs Swallowed: 0
Mean Dogs Chasing: 0
Animal Rescue: 0
Falcon Day 1
Established in 1972 in Taichung, Taiwan, the Falcon Corporation manufactures millions of unexciting copies of Shimano derailleurs. They adorn bicycles ridden by Asian communists that cannot yet afford cars. In America, you'll find them on such recognized craptastic brands like Huffy, Schwinn, Next and Hollandia sold in Wal-Mart and Big Lots chain stores.
In most cases, if a bike has a Falcon derailleur, even if it's new, you're best off throwing it in the trash and putting a different model on. Even a $15 entry level Shimano derailleur is preferable because it will engage all the chainrings, at least. Falcon is so bad that no matter how you tweak it, no matter how long you hurl expletives at it, it will not work.
Tracy Doyle is The Man.
I suited up and left my filthy motel room above the town bar. Two blocks out of town my chain slipped. I tried the "shift to the big ring" trick to reengage it to no avail. My front derailleur came loose and was a mess. I can repair most nagging problems, but I''m not a mechanic and couldn't figure out how to get this pricey SRAM component reattached.
I coasted to a convenience store with my legs askew as if on a célérifère, which was very uncomfortable. A hitchhiking parasite in need of a truck, I spotted potential hosts: Tom and Martha were filling up a large pickup with an extended cab. I pounced and asked for a lift after assuring them I wasn't a vagrant or psycho killer. Fortunately, they took pity on me and got me to Doyle's bike shop for service.
Doyle's is a small shop and it didn't appear they would have a SRAM replacement if I needed it. The owner, Tracy, was busy but he fended off several calls to help me out. He explained why I probably couldn't fix the problem on my own, even if I had the skills to do so. The diameter of my expensive derailleur was too big for my frame. It was fastened with a plastic sleeve/shim that was long gone. Damn! I envisioned the efficiency hack in the factory that designed the gizmo to fit an imperfect component. Mutha...
Tracy fashioned another sleeve and took a wrench to the derailleur. I was right next to him when he reasonably torqued the bolt and pow! The aluminum alloy POS just snapped. I wasn't angry because he didn't murder the SRAM, it was more like an act of involuntary manslaughter. Either way, I was really in a pickle.
Determined to get me mobile, Tracy pointed at tubs of junk on the floor. One of the boxes had piles and piles of chintzy old derailleurs cannibalized from kids bikes and hobo machines. I started picking and we discovered another layer to our meta-lasagna problem. My SRAM was a bottom mount with a stubby cage and not a standard item. This eliminated about 90% of the parts in the rubbish bin.
Only artifacts older than Methuselah from mass produced toy bikes had a shot at working. Tracy pointed to...a Falcon. Heavens to Murgatroyd, No! Putting such rot on my ride is equivalent to putting a large festering boil on one's own face, but I had no option. Tracy's shop is the only place I could get help for a hundred miles on my route.
It took forever to jerry-rig the first Falcon in place. It held promise, but ultimately failed. Luckily, we found an older, shittier Falcon. It looked like it had been stripped off a torched WWI Royal Enfield, but the cage fit the bill. As a bonus, most of it was made of flexible steel that fit naturally on the seat tube. It could be argued that it has appeal over the near plastic alloy of the SRAM.
Nervously, Tracy and I got to work. We both got chain lube all over out hands and worked together to jam stuff here and there. A bit of creative bending with needle nose pliers got us operational. There's a bit of chain rub on the cage in higher gears, but I'm not complaining. It's good enough for government work.
If necessity is the mother of invention, then crisis must be the father of innovation. I work for corporations that believe they can overcome mediocrity by manufacturing novel advances in "idea incubators." They usually end up creating colorful PowerPoint presentations but no real advances. Experiences like the one I had today with committed blue collar practitioners is where you'll find true vicissitudes.
I got out the door of the shop and had fears that the Falcon would explode into pieces after a few miles. It held for 42 and I hope it can go the 600 or so to the finish. If so, I'm gonna leave it on my buxom beauty like a badge of honor.
I'm tracking the Falcon lifecycle with a new index at the beginning of each entry. I'm praying to Baby Jesus and all the Saints and demigods that it gets me through the Adirondacks.