I’ve been right into cialis online Australian bushcraft since I first set foot on the cattle property out back in Queensland. There’s still a lively remnant of the old homesteaders and cattle ranchers out there, a tradition of making do with what you’ve got. I love the practicality of it, the improvised craftsmanship. It’s impressive, the sheer resourcefulness of old timers like Keith, who keeps his property running “on nothing but the smell of an oily rag.”

One bushie trick in particular was floating around in my head as I lifted my gear over a barbed wire fence that evening. It’s a fencing join called the figure eight, really just a reef knot, assembled from two ends of wire and secured tighter the more the fence is “strained.”

A figure eight in a cattle fence. No way that’s coming loose

I set up camp in a sheep pasture, there under the gum trees along the fence line. Darkness came on and I rested, gathering my mental energies for what must be the most audacious bush-biker repair I’ve ever had the pleasure to attempt.

Now, I’ve been lucky enough to try all sorts of dubious emergency fixes. I’ve booted my tire with sewing thread and shreds of semi-truck rubber. I’ve held my broken rack together with zip ties and glue; once even with a twine tourniquet. I’ve made shattered pedal platforms work and made blown-out tire beads hold. I’ve even reattached a separated inner tube valve, better than new.

But this crazy idea trumped them all.

Basically, I would use the same principle I already had going (that of anchoring the spoke on the undamaged outer wall of the rim) but I would return the current pear-shaped abomination to its natural three-cross pattern, and instead add length to the spokes in need by joining in some spares — using the figure eight.

At dawn I was sitting in my camp chair – another bushcraft gem – and bent to the task.

Never mind the fairy tale ears on my hoodie

I had to scavenge washers from my rack bolts, from my toe clips, I even used a spare derailleur part with the right size hole in it.

Getting the joins assembled was an exercise in patience, that’s for sure. I got the hang of it though, with pre-bending, general haranguing, and some close-in pliers work. A more difficult challenge was estimating where to make the bends in the first place. The final length had to fall within an error margin of about five millimetres, while the preliminary length had to be long enough to start a spoke nipple screwing down onto the threads of the spoke. Not too long, not too short. Goldilocks style.

I got it wrong three times. Once for each bear. And each time required re-tensioning all the spokes, not just the bent ones. It took so long, I stoked the fire and made another cup of coffee. A herd of sheep grazed past, too intent on eating to notice me sitting there, quietly turning my spoke wrench. The sun rose higher and higher, until I started feeling like a beer might be nice.

But fixing bikes always has that effect on me.

Five of those beauties
Not enough washers? Make do with what you’ve got!
That nice undamaged outer layer of the rim. Cover it with tape and we’re away!
A bit like pulling a rabbit out of a hat

By about midday I was watching the wheel spin in my upside-down bike. A touch here, a touch there, until it was juuust right. These bent spokes adjust just like the real thing!

It didn’t spin perfectly true, of course. But it was a damn sight better than before! Good enough to save the tire, good enough, even, to reattach my rear brakes!

After getting my gear back roadside of the fence, I loaded up and hit the road. Fingers crossed!

As I started rolling, a huge grin stole onto my face. It was night and day compared to yesterday. I remember this! This is what riding a bike feels like, a nice round wheel!

No more bucking bronco. Smooth. Solid.

Canberra was within reach. I made it across the city to Nic’s place by nightfall, carrying a rare sense of satisfaction. I had done it.

Beer never tasted so good.

1 Comment on Tale of a Bush Biker – Part Two

  1. Sharing a smoke outside the Dreary Wobbler on Willy St. Kid rides up on a fixte and coasts to a stop at the rack. Freewheel, no fixed gear. Through a beer and smoke haze I spot a figure eight in the rear wheel. “Reef knot,” I gasp. “Caveman spoke fix.” The rider looks up from the lock install. “What’s that?” “Caveman bike for earth,” I sputter exuberantly, “Charlie’s reef knot spoke fix.” As I speak I see the figure eight is instead a ziptie holding a cardboard drink coaster in the wheel. Just before the tavern door slams I hear a muttered, “Whatever, dude.”

Comments are closed.