Serendipity

June 19th, 2008 by becky

Throughout this trip, we have had many instances of pure chance luck which I am putting down to serendipity. Several times rain has fallen just as we found a place for lunch and stopped by the time we got back on our bikes. This might sound planned, but the places to stop for lunch were few and far between, so would could not have planned it.

The thunderstorms that plagued our trip all, except the first day, occurred at night when we were either safely in our tent or in some other shelter. When we were staying at Tim and Heidi’s in Rochester, the thunderstorm occurred after we had packed up our stuff while we were visiting with Tim (inside the house).

The severest of the weather was always on the other side of us. As we road west out of Rochester, everything east of Rochester was under a tornado warning. The day we left Scarborough, Toronto was hit by hail (we missed almost all the rain that day, and what we did get was spitting rather than down-pouring).

More serendipity occurred when we stopped at the Port Darlington Marina Motel. Scott was reading the wrong listing and thought there were several hotels in the area; fortunately, we got a good rate and decided to stay there. Moments after questioning stopping early, I discovered my lost Croc, and we had time to go on a croc hunt before the thunderstorms hit — and we found the missing croc!

Finally, I lost a screw in my shoe cleat. You may ask, “how is that serendipity”. If I had not lost the screw, then we would not have gone searching for a bike shop in Napanee. When Scott looked up bike shops in Napanee, we discovered one just up the street (maybe 500 m) from the motel we were staying at. We decided to stop by in the morning.

This morning, on our way to Kingston, we stopped by Gerry’s Bike Shop in Napanee (on highway 2). I asked Gerry if he had a spare screw for my cleat, and he went into the back room and dug a couple out. He tightened up all the screws in my shoes and even gave me a spare in case I lost another one. I was good to go.

Scott pulled up to the bike shop and discovered that he was starting to experience the same shifter problem I was. His shifter was not as locked as mine, but it was definitely getting difficult to twist. He pulled it apart and Gerry suggested adding some “magic lube” . This particular lubricant apparently does not damage nylon or rubber, so that eased our concern with using it. We gave it a try and presto .. the shifter loosened up. Scott then applied some to my gears, and presto, I too could shift again! What a wonderful experience after days of wrenching the shifter around :)

Scott says:

The “magic lube” was ELA-lube, formerly Spray&Play, a molybdenum disulfide-based lubricant from Elevator Oil (who no longer seem to exist, at least on the web – the link is to the Wayback Machine at archive.org). Also, I don’t know about “presto”, I had to do a fair amount of working in to get the shifters to move again (and have a blister on my hand to prove it).

Earlier this morning we received a call back from Rohloff in Germany about our shifting problem. Impressive customer service – we got the call less than 12 hours after sending an email, and maybe 1 hour after forwarding them our phone number. Stuart was impressed that I had actually followed the troubleshooting steps in their manual, and included detailed comments in the email – must be the engineer in me :) Anyway, in short order we determined that this was not a stock Rohloff shifter, and had been modified by HP Velotechnik for use on a recumbent. He gave a few additional suggestions, but couldn’t help much, since he’d never seen the modified shifter. [Aside: The Rohloff shifter is designed for an upright bike, and needs to be mounted vertically for a recumbent with under seat steering. This means using your pinky and ring finger to rotate the shifter, rather than thumb and forefinger as originally intended. What HP-Velo (and apparently Hase) have done is to modify the shifter, adding an additional tube so the entire grip rotates, not just the shifter. Great concept, but it seems to have been poor execution in this case. We’re following up with HP Velo via Bicycleman to figure out what caused the problem]

Now that the bikes were back in working order, we decided to head from Napanee to Ottawa (rather than going through Kingston). This would allow us to get home within 2 days. We also wanted to check out the Cataraqui Trail (a trail between Napanee and Smiths Falls). Our projected stopping place for the night was Chaffey’s Lock (Smith’s Falls was too far).

We left Gerry’s bike shop after noon, so it was going to be a long days riding. The Cataraqui trail proved to be amusing for a little while. The track was quite level, but had a many dips and soft spots which made it treacherous on a loaded touring bike. In some places it was rather overgrown and we were pushing aside tall grass as we rode.
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Scott on the Cataraqui trail. Notice how overgrown it is at this point.
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One of the nicer spots on the Cataraqui Trail.

It soon became clear that this track was more intended for those on snowmobiles or mountain bikes, rather than fully loaded recumbents, so after 10 km of entertainment, we decided to find the smooth roads and make a little more progress towards home. We got on the trail at Newburgh, and jumped off just before Yarker, and continued to cross it as we rode – looked like more of the same.

After 70 km, we saw the sign to Chaffey’s Lock (Chaffey’s Lock road). It didn’t include a distance marker, but Scott’s GPS gave us the “as-the-crow-flies” distance of about 16 km. We were on Perth Road at the time, so traffic was fairly heavy, so the turn to a quiet road was welcome. The road was a back country road, nicely paved, and kind of fun for a while. Then the crazy hills hit. There were two brutal inclines (and after 70 km, our legs were not completely happy when we came upon them). Personally, I was amused that my lungs were less happy than my legs. The hills definitely showed us how much stronger we were now compared to when we tackled the hills near Oswego two weeks ago. We pulled into Chaffey’s with enough time to get an ice cream at the Opinicon resort (at Chaffey’s Lock). That certainly made me a happy camper :).
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Camping at Chaffey’s Lock

One Response to “Serendipity”

  1. AnnaLee H. Says:

    Hi guys! Thank you Scott for your message on our blog. This is a wonderfully detailed and informative diary of what will likely stand out in your minds for quite some time to come as having been an epic, satisfying and worthy accomplishment! So kudos and keep up the great log work!

    Wishing you a safe and smooth ride from here on. Although there’s virtually no support in North America for items like Rohloff (Rohloff may argue this but facts are facts on a long haul trip), hopefully you’ve worked the bugs out yourselves. If not, mechanical support (even replacement parts) will be easy to come by in Europe.
    best,
    Anna Lee in Oshawa
    http://www.oraclecycleworks.com

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