Part of being in France for an extended period meant putting the old Bianchi back into service. It’s such a beautiful piece of cycling equipment, it’s a crying shame for it to be stuck in the cave collecting dust.
I’ve had this bike for quite some time, brought from the US when I moved to Dublin, and the brought to France when we purchased a second home there. While it’s been on the road a couple of times, for the most part it has languished at the back of the cave, covered, and locked up. I took it out for a quick spin several months ago (it’s been so long I can’t even remember exactly what month that was), and I noticed that when I stood on the pedals, that familiar *creak* and *ping* you hear when the bottom bracket bearings are grinding could be heard.
As I’d never serviced the bottom bracket, and this is something that should probably be done every year or so, I was feeling a little nervous. The bike is 18 years old… and the bottom bracket has never been apart? And the bike has been stationary, more or less, for the last 8 years? This did not bode well.
The last thing I wanted to do was bugger the titanium frame. But I was willing to give it a shot myself, and having organized the tools and replacement bottom bracket, I was ready.
I shouldn’t have been so worried. A toothbrush and WD-40 does wonders for cleaning away dirt, and with the cranks removed and bottom-bracket removal tool firmly in place, it came apart without so much as a whimper. Whomever put it together used a lot of copper grease (anti-seize compound), which did exactly what it was supposed to do.
What was revealed when apart was, to me, shocking. How does all that grit and crud get into the frame? But “get in there” it does; at least now I have the opportunity to get it out, and put in the new bottom bracket, which will – from now on – be regularly serviced and should last a very very long time.
Cleaning the bike generally was another quick fix. Washing out the old lube, dirt and muck from the chain is always a chore, but you know when you’re getting to that point, you’re on the downside of your maintenance, and it’s actually a therapeutic action.
One thing I was hoping to avoid was getting new tires and tubes – but again, if you leave your bike stored for literally years, then this is such a minor issue that you should just bite the bullet and get new ones. The old tires I had on it – Continental 3000s – were so dried out that the rear tire split after I went over a speed bump at 20mph. Fortunately I was a 5-minute walk from home when it happened. A trip to the local sports megastore got me new Michelin Lithion.2 rubber, making the transformation complete.
The final fixes to get my other “old lady” (the first being the 1999 Suzuki SV650S) fully operational were a new bike computer, as the old one simply stopped working – I tried a new battery, but there was no indication of anything going on at the computer – and adjusting the front derailleur so that it would shift into the big ring.
Not that I was using the big ring much at first, as “the engine” was in dire need of it’s own makeover. This was addressed in what time I had left, and with the help of a couple local friends who took me on a few fantastic routes around the region. Smooth backroads, warm weather, and a rekindled love of cycling, and now all I have to do is keep it going a bit over the winter, so that when spring comes, I’ll be back to put in some serious mileage and enjoy even more of what the Languedoc has to offer the cyclist.