I now know better than to estimate the time moped projects will take. A quick half hour job turns into a frustrating afternoon after just one or two minor speedbumps. And that's what happened today.
One of my tires went flat last week, but instead of just replacing the tube, I ended up buying new wheels, tubes, and tires, because my old ones had spoked rims that weren't quite as straight as they once were, and didn't quite have as many spokes as they once had.
To ease into the work, I decided to do the front wheel first. Taking off the back wheel requires removing the belt, chain, brake cable, and then you have to take the transmission out of the hub. The front wheel should only require removing the brake cable.
But after pulling off the front wheel, I realized that the new one didn't fit in as a drop in replacement. Its hub was too skinny and the brakes didn't line up properly. Maybe, I thought, I could take apart the old wheel, take out the hub, and replace the new wheel's hub with it.
So I cranked down with two wrenches (and a hammer to get it started), and pulled the hub off the old wheel. As soon as the first ball bearing came out and bounced on the ground, I suspected that I'd crossed the point of no return. Half a dozen more ball bearings flooded out of the hole where the axle was and scurried to various hiding spots around the garage.
So I was at the point of no return. If life had a rewind button, I'd skip back to buying the new wheels and just get a tube to fix my flat. Six bucks, half an hour of monkeying with the moped, and I'd be back on the road. But once the ball bearings crumbled, my only option was to go forward, way out of my comfort zone.
Getting to the point of no return, for me at least, is half luck and half skill, if you can call it that. I rush into projects with very little consideration for plan B. A hacksaw is just as likely as a tape measure to be the first tool I reach for when starting a project.
So I'm prone to it, but enough chance is involved that a lot of times I don't expect to get there. Like when we explored Airman's Cave in Austin. We weren't terrible prepared, but we didn't expect it to be the hardest thing we'd ever done in our lives (which it was).
The beauty of the point of no return is that you have no choice but to succeed. You buckle down and do really hard things that really stretch your abilities, because you have no other option.
When we found ourselves eight hours into a one way cave, our only option was to make the eight hour trek to right back when we started. What else was there? Sit there and die? When the ball bearings fell out of the old wheel, it became impossible to put it back on. My options were to figure out how to combine the good parts of that wheel with the new one, or to leave an expensive and inoperable moped in my friend's garage. And really, that's not even an option. The air conditioner I pulled from my RV has long overstayed its welcome in his garage. I can't imagine asking to keep the moped there, too.
My friends and I had planned on riding our mopeds together to the park, but I told them to go ahead. I spent the next few hours battling away with the moped. The front wheel situation finally came together, the back was easier than expected, and after a serious effort with the pneumatic grinder, I even got my new handlebars on.
If I'd left myself an out somewhere in that three hour ordeal, I probably would have taken it and gone riding with my friends. But instead I burned my bridges and worked through a really hard problem. And now I don't feel as though my wheels are going to collapse under me as I ride, which is a really nice feeling.
The picture isn't actually my moped, but it's the same kind of wheel in the same garage. Close enough. Unfortunately I messed up the brakes when I put on the new wheels, so now my moped is terrifying to drive!
I'm writing 1000 words a day every day, which means I'm writing roughly 10 blog posts per week. I'll write a post about that some time. Thinking about making the outtakes available for a monthly subscription. The two best will be posted every week, which should really up the quality of posts!
Assuming a little test tomorrow goes well, I'm going to have an AWESOME post on Thursday for anyone who works while they travel.