On The Road, Problems

Day 114 Mae Thaeng to Pae Pa both in Chiang Mai

Today was supposed to be hard cycling, but it wasn’t. It WAS hard for another reason. We only planned 34km today to make sure we could deal with the hills leading to Pai. The hills I believe would have been all rideable if it wasn’t for two problems.

We’ve been having some gear (rear cassette) troubles under very heavy load, 2 people on the bicycle, steep grade and in the lowest gear pushing really hard. It’s been skipping and jumping. Today, when Natt hopped off I was cycling up a hill without any chain skipping, but the extra weight on the bicycle (Natt) and the extra load becomes too much and the chain skipping problem returns.

So we deal with this problem by riding up a hill until it starts skipping, Natt jumps off, and then I cycle up the rest of the hill. Not the best experience since we could have cycled all of it, but that’s life. One time today the skipping locked the chain between the rear wheel spokes and the cog-set. We got it out, but about 30 minutes later the chain broke.

In an effort to save weight we only brought along limited tools, and stupid me posted the chain breaker (I think I wrote about this 4-5 days ago) to Chiang Mai, after all the hills. What an idiot, seriously. So today we had 15km left to go to our pre-booked hotel and no chain or way to get it back on the bicycle.

As I sit here typing we still don’t have a chain breaker, but Natt’s Auntie is on her way here to drop off our tool bag and I will hopefully get our chain back on the bicycle before she has returned to Chiang Mai. I’ve done it 2-3 times before, all I remember from the other times is I didn’t thread it properly and needed to do it twice. So I hope I get it right this time.

The remaining 15kms we walked/skated/rolled was up to the crest of a hill and down the other side. So I think that 50% of it we enjoyed the downhill with no effort at all, rolling until the bicycle would not roll any further.

Natt and I had an argument, which was not very useful. She suggested that we get a pickup on the side of the road to Chiang Mai and get the bicycle to a bike shop. My plan was to make it to Pai and hopefully get it all sorted there.

Tomorrow we have 60kms with 50% of that being downhill. I hope the refitted chain holds out until then and we are able to get a new chain and rear cogset. After sitting down and looking at the small hooks on the end of the cogset teeth, after 7,200kms, I shouldn’t be so surprised that we’re having these skipping problems now.

I think our bike came with high end XT Shimano gears, which are lightweight… I believe the trade off is that they may not be as strong. Maybe there is a pro bicycle shop in Pai/Mae Hong Son and we can replace all the gears before the remainder of the hills.

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