I guess if this game was easy, everyone would be doing it. I guess I knew deep down inside that the great run through the twilight months of 2017 wouldn’t last forever. You’ll remember that last week I was being plagued by farmers and their thorns…

This week has been worse: much, much worse. In all honesty, I’m not sure it could have turned out much worse.

Last week, remember, I got puncture in the dark, in the rain, ten miles fae hame and accepted a lift from Jane to get me back in one piece. Goldie was off the road for a few days, not just because of the repair, but because there were some snagging issues to sort out on the bike (with it being a custom build and still relatively new) so Neil had it for most of the week.

The writing on the wall, if you get my drift, lay in the fact that I still had three more bikes in the shed and didn’t go out on the intervening days. I ask myself, quite sincerely, is that the wee hole in the wall, the wee leak in the dyke? For four years, I’ve fought against moments, thoughts, negativity like that, and I’ve always managed to come through. But last week got to me. Rubbish weather, low temperatures… and missing Goldie.

It was like I’d forgotten my roots and it didn’t sit well with me.

I need to put this into some kind of perspective: for the past four years, I’ve kept on upscaling my machinery in order to keep the show on the road: I started out with a folding bike, then swapped onto a mountain bike, followed by a tourer, then a road bike, which I wore out inside the warranty period, then I got another one, and now I have Goldie. There is no corporate sponsor of LCFN.

Goldie is to do me until the end.

The whole point of Goldie is that it’s meant to do away with gears that change of their own accord, sometimes two or three at a time: there’s been a certainty in the gear change that I’ve gown accustomed to, and liked…

Until last Sunday.

The Rohloff Speed Hub cost me an arm and a leg: it was our mam’s lasting gift to LCFN. She would have been 92 today, and the fact that she was dismissed for 91 owes as much to a fight with a member of staff while she was looking for the toilet in the wee small hours, as it does for her dementia and frailty. There are a few in our family who saw her going on to raise her bat and open the telegram.

The major snagging issues with Goldie were to do with finding the optimum handlebar position and curing a difficult gear change from higher to lower gears midway through the range. So while the bike was in getting Smartguard bombproof tyres fitted, I asked Neil to sort the gear change.

I was short of time on Saturday, predominantly because of work and ice on the roads. I only got out for a short spin and because time was of the essence, I made it a #ForeverFive. That will always be my get out card if I don’t have time to do proper miles. #ForeverFive miles will always be forever Eileidh.

Sunday: got the bike out of the shed and set off: the gears wouldn’t change down. Because there’s no dial to tell you what gear you’re in, you’ve no way of telling except by feel. In normal operation that doesn’t matter because feel is fine: a specific number isn’t important in the grand scheme of things. But I was stuck in a big gear and no way was that shifting.

Panicking, my first thought was “has the hub gone”? That would be disastrous. Rohloff hubs are supposed to be good for 60K miles and this one’s only done 800. I had no option but to curtail the outing because if I’d got out of town, there’s no way I would have got back up the the hills.

What did I do? #ForeverFive. Again

Goldie went into Neil’s shop on Monday, and together we spent about two hours trying this, reading that, exploring this, tweaking that. No joy.

The only thing we do know is that the Rohloff hub changes gear fine using a spanner (not much use when you’re out on the road mind). When I went for the Rohloff, I also opted for a set of Cinq 5 gear shifters because I wanted traditional drop bars. The default twist grip Rohloff shifter is for flat (straight bars): I didn’t want them.

It didn’t take us long to work out that the clever wee box of tricks in the Cinq 5 controller was seized. The beauty of the Cinq 5 shifters is that one shifter moves the gears up: the other one moves them down. But these ones would’ve move either way. Stuck in 12th

So the box of tricks is away to whence it came for repair/replacement. I don’t want it to be a repair. My confidence in that unit has gone. From hero to zero in the blink of an eye. You know how it takes forever to build up trust and a nanosecond to lose it? I want that unit replaced. I cannae take that bike to Australia with the thought sitting in the back of my mind that the next gear change might be the last. Nope: this needs sorting, and fast. The shifters are doing the Rohloff hub a great disservice.

The downside to all this is that my other road bike, the one that’s done more LCFN miles than any other, was still in Neil’s lab, waiting on a whole host of things getting fixed. I’ll be honest with you, I ran that bike into the ground over the summer, knowing that Goldie was on the way.

Neil messaged me midweek to say that he’d got the old’yin roadworthy again so I could stay in the game. Even Neil must have sussed that I’d been spoiled and didn’t want to take out the MTB or the tourer. I’ll admit it, I’ve gone soft.

I’d planned to go back out on Wednesday, even though the temperature was minus something and there was ice on the road. I just lectured myself that back in the day, when it was dark and -6C, I couldn’t see the ice so why should it be a problem now. I’ll readily admit that I’ve become something of a Wum overnight, and it doesn’t sit well on my shoulders.

However Wednesday was a write-off for a completely different reason. As promised, after I graduated from the SNOMED-CT implementors’ course, I bought a beast of a PC for my forthcoming development work. If you’re at all technically minded, the SNOMED buster is a quad core icore 7. Its job it to enable me to run seriously complex queries against a virtual GP practice that I’m building, to allow our wee team to go after diseases. I’m just their data man: my job is to design the toys.

Well on Wednesday morning, I couldn’t get the beast to see the internet. I’m on t’internet all day long when I’m working out how to do new stuff (or stuff I’ve forgotten). So this was kinda serious. I fired up another laptop and it was working fine so diagnostic logic told me that it had to be something to do with the network configuration of the new one: why was a different matter altogether.

Six hours passed: tried this, changed that. I was even on the phone to BT for half an hour at one point.

That’s why I didn’t get out to do miles on Wednesday: in the two hour window of opportunity that I’d given myself, when the road surface temperature briefly rose above zero, I was mired in the Windows 10 Control Panel.

You really don’t want to know what the problem was, even though I’m going to tell you: see the WiFi password that’s printed on the wee tab that sits in the back of your router: on my new PC, its definition was corrupted. I know that Big Wullie’ll appreciate this, but see when I realised that that’s what it was…

And to this day I don’t know how it happened: but I sure as hell know how to fix it the next time.

So I’m afraid on Wednesday I didn’t actually get any real work done until tea time: then it became a bit of a late one.

I’m still not in a good place bikewise: the gears on the old bike are constantly reminding me of why I went for the Rohloff: but at least in my other life, the work one, the SNOMED one, I’m starting to feel like a pig in muck: dynamically generated SQL coming out of cyberspace, a great big database to test it on, and all of it running on a rocket machine.

Now I need to shake myself out of this malaise. I need to be hitting the high notes again. Having climbed to the top of the mountain, I dinnae wanna be Goldielocked: not now, not ever.

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