Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Day After the End....

Day 130 (February 22, 2013)
Ushuaia, Argentina
Day's Ride: 0 Miles

Last night after we got back from the sign, I figured it was time for a change.

So I went from this:

To this:

I feel ten years younger. That, and no one seems to recognize me anymore....

Today Dylan and I moved to a campsite to save some money. The weather was good, so I decided to do some bike maintenance. Ever since the day that I changed out my rear tire, I've noticed a sort of dragging feeling at low speed. At first I thought it was the tire dragging on something. I ruled that out pretty fast but then thought it was the chain rubbing on the swing arm. However, after changing out the chain slider, the feeling has continued. This led me to believe that it was either a wheel bearing that was starting to go bad, or the rear brakes wearing out.

Since I've been needing to change out my front tire for the new Metzler that I bought back in Santiago, I decided that I could take off both my wheels, change the rear brake pads, put on the new rear sprocket, put on the new front tire, and check the bearings while I was at it.

The brake pads went on fast; it was lucky that I changed them out as they were just about down to the metal. The new tire was easy too; I love front tires, they're so easy to put on.

I put my fingers inside the bearings and spun them around, they felt smooth to me, but I'm not too savvy on bearings so I don't know for sure if they're okay.

I took off the old sprocket and compared it to the new one.

Unfortunately, after I put on the new sprocket and put the wheel back on, I realized that I would have to cut the chain as I was now outside of the adjustment zone on the chain tensioner. To make matters worse, since the new sprocket is three teeth smaller, the chain was now resting on the chain slider which has already worn quite a bit in the last 300 miles. In consideration of these things, I decided to put the old sprocket back on. I guess if I can't find a new chain slider or a new larger rear sprocket, this one is going to have to last for another few thousand miles.

As I was putting the old wheel back on, I took a look at this thing (not quite sure what it's called) and realized that I had another problem:

One of the screws that holds the chain slider portion of the "thing" was missing. I pulled the other one out to have a look at it and realized that the chain had eaten through the rubber and into the screws here too.

Since I didn't really have any way of fixing this or replacing it, I just took it out and put it in my tool bag. I guess I'll have to roll without it for the duration unless by some miracle I can find one in Punta Arenas.

In summary, I managed to put on my new front wheel and new rear brake pads, remove my damaged chain slider thing, check my wheel bearings, and not put on my new rear sprocket.

I took the bike out for a quick spin to get groceries and check out my new adjustments. Unfortunately, the dragging sensation continued. At this point my only ideas are that one of my wheel bearings is going bad and that I just can't tell because I have no experience, or that the chain is causing a little bit of drag as it goes over the chain slider at low speed. Regardless, I'm just going to have to ride it Punta Arenas and find a mechanic as I can't figure it out. I'm also going to have to find some oil soon. No one seems to have any 10W-40 in Tierra del Fuego and I'm about 100 miles overdue for an oil change. Luckily I always carry about 1.5 liters of extra oil with me, so I can make sure it's topped off until then.

As I was working, Kurt and Corey, the two Canadians that I had met twice in Mexico, once in Guatemala, once in El Salvador, and once in Peru showed up at the campground! Doing this trip just proves how small of a world it is for an adventure rider in South America. I had known that they were close but didn't know that they were in town. They were heading out to the sign to take a picture but we all decided to meet up at the Irish Bar and celebrate later that night.


  1. Yikes. One problem after the other. Good thing you did not run out of oil mid-way. That would’ve been the coup de grace.

    How’d you deal with the sprocket? Did you cut the chain or just looked for a bigger one?

    Sandy Gonzales

  2. I just left the old sprocket on. It had plenty of life on it. I'm still rolling with it.