Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dino and the Alaskan Wolf

No, this isn't a New Age Inuit fairy tale.

It's the story of my brief encounter with Dino and his Alaskan Wolf. And No, Dino didn't rescue the wolf from a zoo or some wicked man with a gun or a gin trap. (It is entirely possible though, that the wicked man could have bought his gin trap in Prince Albert, but that's another story http://www.environment.co.za/environmental-issues-news/fair-game-leopards-gin-traps-landmark-foundation-newsletter-3.html  and http://www.landmarkfoundation.org.za/gin-traps.html.

Living how and where I do, I get to see a range of bicycles and to meet a range of cyclists. A wide range.
Out here in the rural areas, bikes are a necessity, as there's not much in the way of public transport. So anything with two wheels, a frame and a drive-train of sorts goes.
Tyres with gaping holes, tubes with 30 patches, brakes? what brakes?, gears? seriously?, cranks welded on,  frames welded together, old Raleighs, Nishikis, Avalanches, even the odd Peugeot. And the odd chip in the paintwork.

At the opposite end of the spectrum I get to see some bikes that cost more than the houses of many people around here. Way more.

The fun part for me is that I get to work on both kinds of bike, deep steel and fragile plastic. And I get to meet their riders. Of course, people riding the Freedom Challenge tend to be in the latter bracket. You don't want to be riding 20kg of steel bike for 2300km across the country. Or do you?

Enter stage from the east.. Dino and the Alaskan Wolf.

The Alaskan Wolf at rest.
The Brooks saddle totally blew his cover.

When I first heard about Dino, I thought my chain was being pulled, but wild stories about the "moerse shifting spanner" "welding" "old steel frame" (God forbid!), army surplus kit, wild maniacal stare (I made that bit up) convinced me that something was happening.

So, to all of the riders who went before Dino, my apologies, but I was focussed on the eastern horizon.

The Day finally dawned, I must be honest and admit that I was mildly apprehensive. What if Dino was some Mossad or Recce type (with a Glock in a chest harness) who would see right through me and not give up his only spare tube as a replacement fan-belt for the old Merc?

What I finally found on the road near Tierberg was a quiet young guy on a bike that could have gone undercover in most rural towns in SA. A neat stainless steel rack on the back with PLENTY of clearance for mud; two dead gorillas (back and front), and 8 missing spokes. Also, none of the modern excesses like two sets of brakes, for example.  The only reason I knew he hadn't nicked the bike in Danie Swanepoel's farmyard was the presence of the Brooks saddle.

I offered to do an overnight "re-build" (rebuild the wheels, replace the 7 speed freewheel, replace the crankset, repair/replace both gorillas, etc, etc) while he slept. Imagine my disappointment when Dino very politely declined and said that he'd do what little work was required himself anyway.

Crestfallen, I headed back to the dorp, with only one chance to save face. Maybe, just maybe, I could find him a few spokes. Lekkerbek Kafee in the main street also sells bike parts, luckily for Dino, they don't deal in "fensie" bike parts. Thirty six spokes, R30. Klaar gelag.

So Dino set about replacing his bottom bracket bearings (adjustable BB, the bearings are available in most small towns, R12 per set). Replacing the spokes was more complicated than it should have been (we spent some time looking for small ball bearings on the Dennehof garage floor ) as the freewheel had to be stripped to get at the drive-side spokes......

Dino posing with "That Shifting Spanner"

Truing the back wheel wasn't too much of an issue. Plus or minus half a brick is a close as you need to get if there are no brakes to complicate matters.

If I have my facts straight, Dino had never run more than a half marathon and had not paddled much when he decided to do the Extreme Triathlon. He set about getting qualified as a paddler and the rest is history.

Dino has been a great leveller and at the same time hugely inspirational by showing just what can be achieved when we apply ourselves

I doubt that any Peugeot Alaskan Wolf has ever run with the jakkalse as this one has.

As I write this, Dino is making his way up Stettynskloof.