Snap crackle and pop. That’s the sound my rear wheel was making the last couple days. Despite the diligent maintenance I performed on my equipment during my little break, I missed a couple things, and one big thing.
Hubs are the parts of the wheel that the spokes fit into, and house the axel. The rear hub also contains the drive mechanism for transferring the power from the sprocket to the rear wheel. So hubs are pretty important. That is why I bought top of the line, $300 Phil Wood hubs. These are the best that money can buy. They will last a lifetime, I was told. Even bike mechanics were impressed when I took my bike in. “Oh, you have Phil Wood hubs, they’re good.”
I was so convinced these hubs were infallible that it never occurred to me that they may in fact be defective. 5000 miles is not a lot on a touring bike, so I assumed my hubs were fine. I mean, they are Phil Wood, after all. But when I inspected them in the comfort of my Miami Beach condo, I noticed some strange wear, and in Honduras, there was some unusual sticking of the rear wheel. But I assumed the wear was normal. This was a Phil Wood hub, nothing could be wrong with it.
Well, it turns out there are springs and pawls and a ratchet mechanism in the rear hub, and these were all torn to pieces. When I took the hub apart, the spring fell out in two pieces along with various other bits of metal. I could not believe my eyes. My top of the line hub was a piece of crap.
Has this happened to anyone else? Have you ever been so convinced of something that, when presented with contrary evidence, you literally could not believe your eyes? if I had not been brainwashed into believing Phil Wood hubs were indestructable, I would have taken the wheel to my local bike mechanic to get an expert opinion. But the thought never crossed my mind. I was deceived by my preconceptions.
I wonder if the Jews in Nazi Germany thought this. I suspect many people could not have imagined a plan like the Final Solution, intended to exterminate every Jew in Europe. It is inconceivable. So they obeyed the Nazis and, in the end, suffered for it. Even with rumors of mass exterminations many people still surrendered and went obediently to the death camps. If they had believed anythig was possible perhaps more would have resisted. As someone said, we are prisoners of our beliefs. Any thoughts on that?
Anyway, after much cursing, I made a call back home and my bike supplier said the hub should still be under warranty so they will replace it. But meanwhile I am stuck sans bicycle for a couple weeks. I guess I will have to figure out the Japanese train or bus system.
Meanwhile, here are a few pics. This is the view of Tokyo from Ira my brother-in-law’s office window. Not bad. (by the way, what is the plural of brother-in-law, is it brother-in-laws, or brothers-in-law?)
Some shots from the road. I liked the color of this bridge. It contrasts nicely with all the green vegetation on the surrounding hills.
I rode through dozens of tunnels. Some as long as a kilometer in length. Very noisy but well lit. Here’s a shot of one.
In Koshu City at the end of a long day (65 km uphill with 1200 m elevation gain–it took me 8 hours) I was wandering around looking for a hotel. A guy came out of a restaurant and with his wife and kids, helped me find a place for the night. It was a ryokan, a Japanese style inn. Here is a shot of the futon and main room.
Wearing shoes indoors is a real taboo in Japan. You must remove your shoes and put on slippers. I can accept that. But in my room, there was a separate set of slippers just for wearing to the bathroom. Am I supposed to remove my regular slippers and put on other ones just to take a pee? I don’t think so. Don’t believe me? Here is a shot of the “toilet slippers”.
Meanwhile, I returned to the restaurant where the owner’s wife and kids came out to practice their English. They gave me a free meal, plus some gifts like a CD and some towels. They were very generous people. His name is Jun Sakamoto. Here is a photo of his wife Teruko and their kids Maika (10) and George (7).
The Japanese seem to be obsessed with hygiene. Here is a shot of the toilet controls in my hotel room. You can get your bottom sprayed with varying degrees of water pressure. Actually it gets you cleaner than using paper. It feels a bit weird at first but I am getting used to it.