David Arditti <david@...>
No, not in Camden.Has anyone else had exceptionally good or bad service from cycle shops?
I can, however, recommend McNulty's of Enniskillen, if you are ever in those
When on the CCC tour of Ireland (north) this June, the rim of my rear wheel
cracked (originally a Bikefix construction job, about 6 years ago). It was
alloy and had been worn through by the blocks. The tyre bulged out and
prevented further locomotion, though the wheel did not give way. The reason
this was a huge problem in the circumstances was that the wheel could not be
simply be replaced, if we could find a replacement, as it had been built
around the rare Sachs 7 speed gear hub, which I swear by. Therefore the
wheel had to be rebuilt with a new rim. Furthermore, we had little time to
spare, as each night's stop of the ride had already been booked, and the
stops were all about 40 miles apart. Fortunately, at that stage, we were
only 5 miles from Enniskillen, which is by far the largest town on the
"Kingfisher Cycle trail" (Sustrans), which we were following, and we were
booked into a B&B there.
By removing the rear brake blocks I was able to cautiously cycle it there.
Our landlady that night (who lived opposite the "Royal School" and sported a
blouse covered with busts of the Queen in two shades of white) directed me
to McNulty's the next morning, which is opposite the statue commemorating
the dead of the IRA attack there 10 years ago. The shop did not look
promising as it contained mainly motorbikes. However, we were assured they
were the region's principal cycle shop. I explained my predicament, and was
directed to the workshop at the back, where I found a man who was instantly
engaged by the challenge of solving this problem, and who immediately
devoted the rest of the working day to solving it. (Try getting a major job
done instantly like that in London).
He did not have a suitable rim, but he did have a wheel of the right size,
which he dismantled to get the rim off. He took my wheel apart and spent
most of the morning trying to construct a wheel using my hub and spokes and
the new rim. We went off to look round the castle. Coming back after he had
had his lunch, we found he had had to start again, as the plan had not
worked: the two rims had proved to be fractionally different in size and the
Bikefix spokes were too short. So he had to cut a new set of spokes to fit.
Considering that he said he hardly ever built a wheel these days, it was
surprising that he had such a huge stock of spokes of all types. Perhaps the
roads round there do them in. We went to the tourist information office to
see what unnecessary things we could buy, and came back with some t-shirts
sporting a Kingfisher and cycle route logo. About 4 pm he finished the job,
having decided unilaterally that various other components needed replacing,
such as the brakeblocks, and rear mudguard stays, and done all that. It was
at least as good as new. In the front of the shop another man sitting in a
cubbyhole with a calculator had seemingly the sole job of calculating bills.
This calculation took about another 15 minutes, and came to about £60
including the components, a demand they were very apologetic for. I can't
imagine a London shop doing the same job, in a longer time-period, for less
than twice that. So, as Meade would say, it was "good and bad". Since it was
going to wear through some time, it was good it was there.
At this stage we still had 43 miles to cycle on the route to the next booked
B&B. Enniskillen has a big one way-system (Irish towns generally lack these,
but it was obviously another way of emphasising the Britishness here) and,
confused by this, and the Sustrans map, on which you can never work out
which way is north, we cycled about 3 miles out in the wrong direction
initially, before coming back to the town centre and starting again the
right way. We decided to shortcut the official route, the only day on which
we made this concession, as in general Vivian would not put up with any
dilution of the proper scenic route, as she would then not have been able to
wear her t-shirt with integrity. However, Mike was getting impatient, as
Americans do, so we took main roads, avoiding the hills, reducing the
distance required to about 30 miles, and we did get to our destination about
8 pm, in time for supper.
End of adventure.
David (CCC rides co-ordinator)