Blame the French
The alarm went off at 5:30. I lolled through one snooze cycle, then rose and dressed in cycling togs, prominently featuring the sponsor-splashed last issue jersey of the defunct Greenwood Cycling Club. Breakfast was fast - a cereal bar and a monkey dish of AtlantFresh Greek yogurt - and I name the stuff because it was GREAT.
Then it was down to the basement, where I frittered away more time than I would have liked fitting a blinky tail light to the Gitane. First I had to find a tail lamp; then there was the whole gymkhana of testing it, concluding I needed new batteries, finding new batteries, popping the cover to discover that suddenly the light worked with a vengeance, then playing with different mounting hardware before fitting the whole apparatus at the juncture of seat post and seat tube. You get the idea. By the time I carried the bike out of the basement (carefully avoiding the wasp nest that has appeared in the top corner of the outside basement door) it was 6:20.
The old bike responded well and zipped along nicely, metric gauge 531 providing just the right mix of flex and stiffness (combined with those groovy wheels I got in trade from Craig). Unlike some mornings, I felt pretty good. I paused for a moment downtown to switch over to shades - note to self, next time get at least one pair of regular glasses WITHOUT progressive lenses and their perspective shifting tendencies.
I was near the halfway point on the rail trail when I felt something odd in the pedal stroke - suddenly there was a dead spot followed by a subtle-but-definitely-there re-engagement. Loose crankbolt? Maybe the rear wheel had shifted incrementally forward and the chain now had a little slackness? Was I hallucinating? Princess and the Pea Syndrome?
I wondered. I rolled on. The sensation grew stronger. I stopped. When I put a foot down, I immediately saw the problem - the right side bottom bracket cup had backed out of the frame.
Blame the French. You can make a case for the old French tubing dimensions - they're all even metric measurements, none of those fractional things we encounter with ISO stuff. The subtle differences in tubing diameters make for an indescribably but palpably smoother ride. And the bottom bracket size and thread pitch are good, too - 35mm x 1mm, nice and easy. But why, oh why could they not have made the drive side REVERSE thread like the British and Americans and eventually the ISO standards? There's even what is called Swiss threading, which is metric 35 x 1 but with a reverse thread drive side - and Swiss thread parts are even harder to find than old French ones, btw.
I pondered trying to turn the cup back inwards a little, but no go, not with the tee-ninetsy multi-tool tucked into the equally tee-ninetsy saddle bag. In all fairness, this really is not a roadside kinda repair, anyway. This calls for the use of my old Stronglight crank tool, which is one of two I once owned - and had I kept the other one wrapped in its original paper wrapper instead of giving it to someone more than a decade ago, I would have a couple of hundred dollars worth of spare tool. Anyway, this was a job for a 16 mm narrow wall socket wrench, the aforementioned obscure and obsolete tool, and a big wrench to crank that wretched fixed cup back into place so it would stay, well, fixed, dang it.
I reminded myself that if the cup backed out further, because it was right-hand thread the crank spider would just screw it back in and it wouldn't lock things up. I turned the Gitane around and headed for home at a sedate pace, winding up in the driveway exactly at 7:00 with eight miles for my troubles.
I foresee a Phil Wood sealed bearing bottom bracket in this bike's future - when funds permit.