What’s The Name Of That Box From The Greek Myths Again?

The weather warmed up quite a bit yesterday, so like everyone else in the city who rides a road bike I headed over the George Washington Bridge:

This was my first proper ride on the Vengeance Bike for the first time since overhauling the headset and front shifter, and I was looking forward to finding out if all the work I’d done had been successful:

Well, I’m pleased to report that the bike was running better than has at any point since I took delivery of it. The new “low” gearing was perfect for the undulations of River Road, the shifter seemed to be holding its adjustment pretty well, and the headset was beautifully frictionless…a term that always reminds me of this literary classic:

When people think of great first lines it’s usually something obvious like “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” or “Call me Ishmael.” But for me, it’s always the opening sentence of “Pump It Up” by DD Vanderbilt:

Well, it’s been fifteen years since “Bust” ran this story, so I guess I can finally end the speculation and reveal that I am in fact DD Vanderbilt.

Sorry, just kidding.

How great would that have been, though?

By the way, I’ve always staunchly advocated for learning how to fix a flat, but the plot of “Pump It Up” is something of a counter-argument, since things seem to have worked out pretty well for the puncture victim. (Then again they worked out well for the protagonist too, thanks in no small part to her competence in flat repair.)

Anyway, I’m a person of many faults; in fact my character is as structurally unsound as…the 36-year old hunk of vintage crabon I’m riding probably is. But my worst fault by far is my inability to leave well enough alone. See, together with my other major faults–those being arrogance, impatience, and general mechanical ineptitude–it often undermines my best efforts with regard to bicycles. Consider for example that this very morning, despite the fact that the Vengeance Bike was probably as close to perfection as its ever going to get (well, while it’s in my possession anyway), I opened Pandora’s cliché and started fucking with the brakes:

The Campagnolo Delta brake is famous for two things: being beautiful; and sucking balls. That’s why it has inspired stories such as this one:

In my time with the brakes I’ve had absolutely no problem with them. By no means are they the best brake I’ve ever used, but they’ve got all the stopping power you could possibly need and then some, especially if you run the pads further out from the rim than you normally would on a road bike rim brake. (Basically, they’re just cantilever brakes in a stylish aluminum box.) I even rode them through the Swiss Alps, and they carried me safely down many a mountain pass–unlike a rider behind me whose rear disc brake suddenly decided to stop working completely on a steep, twisty descent. (Riding Deltas down a mountain when someone’s disc brake fails is the most delightfully smug moment I’ve ever experienced, and very probably the most smug moment I ever will experience–even better than when you’re climbing a mountain with a six-speed friction transmission and someone’s electronic shifter battery dies, which also happened.)

But while I’ve been satisfied with the performance of the Delta brakes, I’d never done any actual work on them besides turning the barrel adjuster every now and then as the pads wear. So this morning I decided to change the pads, even though there was still plenty of meat on them, since I wanted to know more about how they work:

When you write about bikes on the Internet someone’s always trying to catch you doing something wrong, and awhile back a reader observed that the open end of my brake pad holders seemed to be facing the wrong way:

I then inspected the bike and learned that there is no open end of these particular brake pad holders, as you can see here:

Consequently, there is also NO FUCKING WAY IN HELL TO GET THE GODDAMN PAD BACK IN THERE, and so far I’ve tried various pliers and all sorts of lubricants. I’ve even soaked the pad in warm water to soften it up. In short, this is far from a “frictionless fuck,” if you know what I mean:

Perhaps someone out there will point out something obvious I’m doing wrong, but I’m tempted to just say “Screw it” and order another set of pa–never mind:

The world of vintage Campy is as expensive as it is infuriating.

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