Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Colombia day 5: The kindness of strangers

The most important lesson learnt today was: always make sure you've put bearings in your hub before reassembling it. It's been another fun day!

This morning started very like the previous two; leave our accommodation and climb straight up a hill. Fortunately it was paved, so there wasn't an immediate attack of the grumps. The views were also pretty amazing. We had woken up to see cloud swirling around the village and had expected to climb in cloud for a while, but by the time we had called in at the bakery and actually got onto the road it was clear. Very warm and humid though. The descent down the far side turned to a rough gravel surface pretty quickly with lots of landslides and washouts. The busses were still making it through though, one every half hour or so. It was soon clear to us on the descent that we'd got a problem with the rear wheel - we'd broken the freehub, again. The last time we were in South America it signalled the end of our tour. This time we had come prepared, or so we thought. We limped on to Caparrapi which perches high on a ridge between two steep valleys.




While stopped at one of the main junctions in the centre, one of the locals asked what we were looking for (in English), and directed us to a hostel. The very accommodating owner let us store Dobbin in the bar next door. After a quick shower it was time to tackle the freehub before lunch. The NBT2 (next best thing 2) had the cassette off without a problem, and the cone spanners had the bearing races off in super quick time. We had gained a helper in a local called Carlos by this time, come to check out what we were doing. We then hit a snag. The what remained of the freehub was held on by the body fixing bolt which required a 10mm Allen wrench to remove it. The largest size we had with us was 8mm, of course. Carlos came to the rescue and took us for a tour of the town, visiting businesses who might be have such a thing. The bicycle shop was unfortunately closed, as was one of the garages. We finally found one in the fifth business (a motorbike repair shop). As we had the new freehub body with us, it was a 30 second task to remove the remains of the old one and screw the new one on. We had been a little concerned that the body fixing bolt had been damaged, but a quick inspection showed that the damage was mainly to the freehub, with some relatively minor damage to the axle threads. By this point we were starting to get hungry. We were on a roll though, so it seemed to make sense to finish the job. After trying to work out why the hub was always either too loose, or binding and having reassembled everything for the 23rd time, Joth realised what was missing. In our excitement, we'd not transferred the drive side bearings from the old freehub to the new one, no wonder it didn't work. We didn't have any grease either, but fortunately we knew a man who did. Carlos went and fetched his pot of grease. After realigning the axle and reassembling for the last time, we were good to go. It would have perhaps been better if we had eaten lunch before attempting the repair! We had a quick spin around the block, then went for a large and late lunch across the road and shared a beer while discussing the food and the football with the help of Google Translate (England vs Brazil was on the TV). The Google Translate app has helped a great deal on this trip. It's amazing how often that you can't remember the right word in the right language when you need it. Having a written translate facility when offline is so useful too. 



After a quick siesta, we met up with Carlos for a tour of the town followed by a beer in one of the bakeries. We were joined by Carlos's friend Julio and passed a pleasant couple of hours. We have met with nothing but friendliness in Colombia, and today was perfect example of why we love touring. Caparrapi is a town serving a large municipality containing 20 000 people. It is not somewhere which appears in any of the guidebooks or tour bus routes, yet the views are amazing, and the people as wonderful as you'll find anywhere. Visiting places like this, and meeting people like Carlos is why we do this.