Posted in March 2013

Welcome to the Himalayas!

March 30th, 2013

Country/Day:        India/53

Bikes Fixed:                  65

Bikes/Day Avg:               1.23

If you’ve seen Monsters, Inc. you know exactly how the title of this post is supposed to sound.

Let’s do some visualization too.



– – –

So last Saturday (a week ago today) I left for Darjeeling, India to go trekking in the Himalayas  Those of you who read regularly will remember I have catching up to do elsewhere. I want to update this trip while it’s fresh in my mind, then I’ll go back and finish the bicycle-training tour of India.

The usual note to my donors: This trip was covered out of pocket. I mean, duh. It doesn’t have much to do with bicycles. But I want to share all the same, because it was an awesome experience. I’ll keep it to two posts though, and then return to bicycle-related things, because this is supposed to be a bicycle-related project.

– – –


About a month ago Prabhat (my host) mentioned he was going on a week long trek through the Himalayas and invited me along. For one week the trip cost less than $900, ticket included, and I was already in India (which is the expensive part). I decided I could still do 90 bikes in 90 days even if 7 of those days were spent in the Himalayas… so I went for it.


Now yea, $900 per week is a lot of money — I biked across the country for about $900 per month not too long ago — but I had never hiked before, much less a hike in the Himalayas. I decided worst case I spend more than I should have and had a great time anyways.


– – –


We flew into Bagdogra and were met by one of our guides, Nam Dya, two drivers, and the rest of the crew. There were seven of us total: Prabhat, his son Nishith, and myself; three other Indian guys named Mitish, Bharat, and Murali; and an American girl teaching at the American Embassy school in Delhi, named Cristi.


It was a three hour drive to Darjeeling. The first hour or so was pretty standard Indian roadway, but then things quickly became windy and vertical, until we looked down and saw this:



The usual signage discouraging speeding on windy roads was present, including classics like “Speed Thrills/But Kills” and “Looking for Survival?/Do not believe in Fast Arrival” along with new ones like “Hurry Burry Spoils the Curry” and “Don’t Donate Blood on Road/Donate Blood on Hospital.”

At some point we stopped for lunch…


…which was dal, roti, and rice. By the way, that’s becoming quite a comforting combination for me. It’s easy to eat, it goes down well, it’s good for you, and it’s almost always delicious.


Anyways, at some point (after driving on Tenzing Norgay Road, which is apparently a famous road… though to me it just seemed narrow and extra windy) we made it to the hotel, and hung out and got to know each other a bit. We didn’t really know each other yet, but it was nice to spend the day with a group of new people, and it became clear we would get along at least for the next week.


The view out the hotel window was spectacular… it had never occurred to me that so many people could live so high up.



On Sunday I got up early and went for a walk. At some point I realized that, looking down for as far as I could see, there were mountains and houses and farms, and looking up for as far as I could see, there were mountains and houses and farms. It seemed never-ending. Darjeeling also had relatively few cars, so the honking was minimal. It was really nice… it almost felt magical, in fact, in the way that I think India is “supposed” to feel magical. But every now and then a car would honk needlessly and ruin things.


After breakfast we left the hotel and drove to the edge of town, on top of (another) mountain, or so we thought. On the way we picked up our guide, Dawa, who turned out to be a really cool guy. Not only was he an intelligible guide, he was just an intelligible and fun human being. Oh, and he had a great sense of humor.


(Nepalese Accent): “Who is that handsome man?”

All the company cars (cars belonging to a touring company) had various decorations and signage (where they were from and where they were going, among other things — for hitchhikers and law enforcement), but another thing they had in common was football. Almost every company car we saw had either “Arsenal” or “Man U” written across the top of the windshield. I asked Dawa: “So, Arsenal or Man U?” to which he replied “Liverpool!” Apparently soccer is big in Darjeeling. I thought it was funny, because the few fields we saw were on the edges of cliffs, and few of the goals had nets. Don’t miss!


From left to right: Murali, Mitish, Bharat.

We had to drive to the starting point via Tenzing Norgay Road, which, as I mentioned, was narrow and windy. Hardly wide enough for one car in some places — twice we had to back up or caused another car to back up to a wider part of the road, where we could pass each other. Above is a photo taken while our driver argued with an oncoming car about who was going to back up and who was going to go forward.

Something else unique about Darjeeling — the people. Dawa said that Sikkim, the state Darjeeling is in, used to be its own country, with “about 20 mud huts.” When the British colonized the middle east, they realized the potential for tea trade in Sikkim, so they brought in about 1,000 Chinese tea farmers and 20,000 Nepalese laborers (I guess it worked, because Darjeeling tea is now world famous). The British-Sikkim tie was weakened by British taxation, until in 1849 two British physicians were detained by the Sikkimese, leading to a British Invasion and the annexing of Sikkim into India.

Anyways… it was interesting to be in India, and yet to see the people look so… well, Nepalese, mostly, but also Chinese, Tibetan, and everything in between.


They can also carry stuff like nobody’s business.

SO — more culture later. We had to check in with Forest Patrol, including paying a fee for our cameras (Rs 100 each) and ourselves (Rs 50 per Indian, 100 per foreigner). Then we drove up a really steep hill that switched back every 200 feet… and then we started walking.


Only we were at 2300 meters above sea level.

Nishith and I had a long discussion about whether it was cloudy or foggy. We decided it was foggy. Anyways, we hiked… and hiked… and sung, and talked, and hiked. We saw prayer stones —


— which always have to be passed by on the left, since that’s the way the world and the universe rotate in Buddhist doctrine. We saw water-powered prayer wheels (or just “water wheels”) —


— the prayer wheel being in the roof; it spins as long as water flows through the structure. And we saw rhododendrons everywhere.


Including in front of us.

We stopped for lunch in a town called Tumling, at 2900m. There were some other American trekkers there about my age, all from Ohio or Chicago. We ended up spending the night in the same tea house as them, only they were a bit rambunctious and didn’t go to bed until after we did… *aherm.*

That was, I think, our longest day. We spent the night in Garibash, at 2621m.

– – –

The next day we hiked to Kalpokori, at 3108m. This was again one of those days where you could either see very far up, or very far down, but not a lot was very flat. After about an hour we turned to see where we had stopped for tea the previous day:


It’s that pixel between the two humps in the middle top of the photo.

That day was fairly short, especially compared to the previous day. Some of the older folk were having troubles, including Mitish, whose shoes were too short, so he was developing some blisters. In any case, it meant we had the better part of the afternoon to freeze to death. I mean, sit and chat and read. But really, after 12 the clouds rolled in, and the sun disappeared, and it got cold.


“Here, let’s put on all our layers and drink tea” cold.

 That night for dinner we had pizza, which was a surprise. I mean, we also had rice and sabje, so don’t get too excited, but still… pizza… in India… in the Himalayas.

The next morning there were goats that wanted to be fed.

IMG_8045Fe-e-e-e-d me!

And I’ve just been called to lunch. But I think that’s halfway anyways… so, more later.

2 thoughts on “Welcome to the Himalayas!

  1. Marilyn says:

    Fascinating, well written, great photos. I love hearing about the history and culture. What’s a prayer stone? Where was the young woman from?

    • Kyle says:

      Hi! Thank you! I hope you’re feeling better by now and back to work.

      A prayer stone is a stone inscribed with mantras (arguably a type of prayer) placed near roads or passageways as an offering to the spirits who pass by there.

      Cristi was from Texas.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Updates to Come

Aw man, so I just got back from yet another trip… this time it wasn’t a broken computer though, just the fact that I was out in the middle of nowhere.

I did get to see Everest. And Kanchenjunga. There will be photos.

For now, there’s unpacking and sleep. But tomorrow, the updates will begin! Prepare yourself!

One thought on “Updates to Come

  1. Marilyn says:

    I can’t wait!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Trip No. 2

This time… to Darjeeling!


There will be no internet while there, so no news is good news. But there will be plenty of photos upon my return!

2 thoughts on “Trip No. 2

  1. Marilyn says:

    When do you leave and how long will you be gone? What are you going to do on this trip?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Budget Changes

March 22nd, 2013

Country/Day:        India/45

Bikes Fixed:                  65

Bikes/Day Avg:               1.44

I’ve changed the budget a bit and in light of the whole “completely open and honest” thing I thought some details might be warranted.

The short: For logistical reasons, I am only able to spend about 70 days in Zambia. So I’m not going to ask for $$ to pay for the 20 days I won’t be there.  I will still be attempting to fix 90 bikes in that time. I’ll have to average 1.3 bikes a day which, given my current average, should be no problem.

The long: Spending 90 days in Zambia would have me arriving home on November 23rd. I start work at Epic on December 2nd, so that means I’d have 9 days to…

– Debrief: Unpack, unwind, final blog posts, last round of thank yous, etc.

– Overcome 7 hours of jet lag

– Catch up with friends

– Celebrate Thanksgiving

– Tie up loose ends at home

– Move to Madison, including finding a place to stay, packing, moving, unpacking, etc.

Basically, I’m taking the liberty of some personal time after 250 days of bicycle repair and before starting the rest of my life.

– – –

Since I’m now only $300 (instead of $800) away from my goal I thought it would be a good time to detail what happens if I go over budget.

Basically, there are some obligatory expenses to this project that I haven’t included in the cost of airfare, room, and board. These include cost of visas, cost of tools, and cost of preventative vaccinations (different than the budgeted insurance, which is primarily for trip protection and medical evacuation if necessary). I’ve made a detailed list at the bottom of the budget page.

I expect nothing beyond the now $8000 budget, but know that these are necessary costs, and that I am currently paying them out of pocket. Either way, I appreciate your support!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Retroactive Update #1: Chennai and Bangalore

March 20th, 2013

Country/Day:      India/43

Bikes Fixed:                  62

Bikes/Day Avg:               1.44

So, back before my computer died, I was just about to leave on a trip…

A few disclaimers:

– I let Viju (my travel buddy) take most of the photos since he has one of those iThings that probably takes better pictures than my camera, and is more portable, and also is a phone. So some of the photo credit here goes to him.

– There are a lot of maps of India floating around right now. I didn’t realize this, but every time I post a map of India somebody says the map is wrong. This occurs for any number of reasons — Pakistan wanting to look bigger, the insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir, compensating (either way) for the tension in Sri Lanka… I’ve been told all my maps are wrong for those reasons and more. So I just want to put it out there that I’m doing the best I can to respect the way India wants to be seen on a map. However, I can’t please everyone, nor are my maps intended to be “official” in any way, shape or form.

– – –

So a few weeks ago — two, and exactly two, actually — I got up at a nice and early 4:25 AM to catch my ride at 4:30. First I thought I was locked in — the gate was locked from the outside — but just in time the gatekeeper showed up (driven in by his dad just for me!) and let me out. Oh, the woes of household help. Anyways, from my residence Viju took me to his parents’ apartment, where we had tea and waited for the taxi to the airport. On the way to the airport, by the way, the taxi spoke — it said, “Please slow down. You are crossing the speed limit.”

Well, excuse me.

There’s a few differences in security between the US and India. For starters, you can’t even get into the airport without a boarding pass and ID. When you order tickets, your pass is mailed to you, and if you forget it, they charge Rs 600 (about $12) to print it outside the airport. So, if you ever go anywhere in India, make sure you print your boarding pass!

Next up — the guys who check your boarding pass are uniformed and armed. Like, camo and AKs, or a pistol at the least. The first few times it was a little unnerving (I have never been that close to an automatic weapon before) but after a few flights I got used to it.

You don’t have to remove anything attached to your body unless you have a particularly metallic belt. EG, shoes and watches can be left on (side note: US airport security, the TSA, has never actually caught any terrorists…).

Anyways, we still had some time before our flight, and we weren’t sure if breakfast would be served, so we went to… McDonald’s. Am I ashamed? Nah. Given I was just about to embark on a week-and-a-half long adventure to new climates and new foods, I’ve no guilt about playing it safe by eating something completely familiar to me and my stomach. I mean, I would have rather had a sandwich, but at 6 AM, the choices were McDonald’s or random expensive Indian place (side note: I got sick anyways. Details impending). Oh, and for the record, I got a veggie burger, and it was really good.


So after our Mcventure (I’ll only do that once, promise) we headed off to board. While in line we got in a conversation with a feller who had some interesting things to say about Air India. Basically he said,

“All the pilots and stewardesses are retired, so expect the unexpected.”

And there you have it. About to take off for the next week and a half with nothing but a backpack, and I’m supposed to expect the unexpected (Viju packed an entire suitcase… a fairly large suitcase, too. We later had a lesson on “packing light”).

Anyways, if you read my latest post you know what happened next — my computer died (the whole story is much more dramatic, check it out if you can). A few other things went wrong that day:

– I left my book on the plane.

– The internet at our hotel didn’t work.

– I left my credit card in Gurgaon (usually in my wallet so I don’t have to worry, but for safety I’ve been keeping it elsewhere).

– I left my adapter in Gurgaon, so couldn’t charge my phone. I’ve never had to bring an adapter before… (fortunately, perhaps, my computer didn’t need it).

– I left a sample hydraulic brake set in Gurgaon (necessary for the presentations I was to do, though I didn’t know it at the time).

– We never got a rotor truing fork (necessary for the presentations I was to do).

Most of these start with “I left…” so yea, my fault. They all have legitimate excuses but I’m not one for excuses so I’ll forgo those. Just know that the first day wasn’t exactly perfect.

Oh, while I’m at it… Chennai was full of mosquitoes. Suddenly I was a bit more disciplined about my anti-malarial.

Anyways. We checked into the hotel around 11…


It was alright.

…before heading out for the day. The first place we went was a Toshiba repair center, to no avail. Then we went to a beach side restaurant a friend of Viju’s had recommended — not a bad view, except for the weather.


It was more than alright.

A note about the restaurants in India: Not only is the food cheap (averaging maybe $5/plate or less; recall the restaurant in Dehradun where myself, Prabhat, and a friend went for $5 total), but there’s a lot of choices. Most restaurants serve Indian, Chinese, and Continental, and usually they forgo descriptions for sheer volume. It’s not uncommon for a menu to have 200 items or more — but none with descriptions. So if you don’t know what all that Indian stuff is and don’t want to risk it, you’re stuck with Chinese or Continental.

Comparatively, this restaurant had little to offer (maybe 30 items on the menu) and all had descriptions. Still adjusting to the climate (hotter and more humid than in Delhi), I went for something safe again: mushroom alfredo pasta. It was pretty good. We also tried the chili cheese fries but… apparently in India “chili” only means the spicy vegetable, not the soupy stuff… so that was a bust.


It busted the crabs out, anyways.

After a walk on the beach chasing some crabs we headed back to the hotel. Oh, by the way, watching Viju bargain with the auto drivers (“auto” in India means motor rickshaw) was intense. For starters, apparently south Indians have a superiority complex, so will try and charge north Indians more than they should, and can’t be told otherwise. For a ride of Rs 110 (always check with your waiter or estimate about Rs 20/km (about $0.60/mile)) one guy wanted Rs 200 when he heard Viju speak in Hindi. Fortunately, Viju knew the local dialect and as soon as he started speaking in it the prices came down.

There was one guy who quoted us Rs 500  to which Viju replied, “But sir, there is a tourist in our midst!” I just thought that was funny, because no doubt I was the reason for the ridiculous quote… anyways, after passing by a few we found one who would settle for 115.

“110!” said Viju as we walked towards his cab.




“110 or we walk,” said Viju, pulling me to the next cab.

“110 barely covers the price of petrol!”

“See ya!”

“Okay sir, okay… 110.”

And then, when we got in the cab,


We ended up paying him 130 or so tip included, because, you know, it’s an extra $0.40. But yea, you have to be aggressive, not afraid to walk away, and if you love your wallet you’ll never get into a cab without negotiating the price first (unless you’re in Mumbai, but I’ll get to that later).

So anyways, we got back to the hotel, I mourned for not being able to update my blog, and watched inordinate amounts of TV instead (which I would feel bad about if I’d had anything else to do. I didn’t want to explore outside as the pollution was particularly bad there). Around 5 or 6 we headed out for a business meeting.

– – –

Short description, Firefox is sponsoring a bicycle team, and there’s a fellow in Chennai who wants to do the jerseys for the team purely out of passion. So we went and met with him to get the prototype jerseys. They were pretty cool (and not commercially available); other than that, we talked about what the mechanics needed to learn. He was pretty frustrated that there wasn’t a mechanic in India (except me) who could service a high-end bicycle… before we left we actually fixed his computer for him. The following words were said:

“I don’t care how much it costs, I just want it to work. I don’t ever want to have to adjust anything on my bicycle.”

So, there’s all sorts of bike riders in India. And that’s all I’ll say about that…

– – –

For dinner we just walked around outside the hotel until we found somewhere appealing. That night it happened to be the “Baker’s Cafe,” which seemed like a coffee-shop/mini restaurant of sorts.


Pizza was had. Good pizza. Pineapple and mushroom and… man, I wish my computer hadn’t broken down, I would have done this in time to remember everything that was on it. Ah well… some things are fleeting.

– – –

On Thursday we got up bright and early around 8:30, had breakfast, and left for the seminar. The hotel served an Indian breakfast buffet, which consisted only of spicy things… this made me (or, more accurately, my stomach) question my health about halfway to the shop, but all was well in the end. We arrived and asked around for a few things; a stand, for instance, was had. Some things were not had, like chain lube.


Action film shots were not missing that day.

A bike shop not having chain lube is like a car mechanic not having engine oil. Or a maid not having Windex. Or a teacher not having chalk. You get it. It made me sad. And it made me realize how ill-equipped some of the shops here are.

Anyways, we were supposed to start about 10, but some of the mechanics had a two or three hour drive, so we didn’t end up starting until about 11. All told there were 40 or so mechanics:


And man, did I have a heyday. In a good way.

For starters, only a few of them spoke English, and they spoke it… slowly. So I had to speak slowly and repeat myself often. For those who didn’t speak English, Viju would translate. This was perfect for me as it would give me time to collect my thoughts, draw on the board, etc. etc. Then there was one fellow who spoke only a regional dialect… so after Viju translated, the guy next to the regional-only fellow would translate for the regional-only fellow.

All together it took about 5 hours, excluding a break for lunch. We started with the bike out of the stand, talked about things to check for right away, then presentation (angle of the handlebars, seat height), brake adjusts, derailleur adjusts, and drive-train wear. After lunch we did hydraulic brakes and a rudimentary bicycle fit. It doesn’t sound like much, but remember it took 5 hours… okay, about 3, and then Viju translated for the other 2 (thanks bud!). Made me realize how much I know. Especially since I could have kept going.


But instead I just pointed at stuff.

There will be more details on the seminars later… I do want to get to bed on time tonight though, so let’s move…

to dinner!

Actually, wait.

After the seminar the owner of Just Buy Cycles (the shop where I presented) asked me what my plans were. I told him (Epic) and he seemed a little disappointed.

“It seems like you have this thing that you’re passionate about, and good at, and that’s what you should do.”

I mean, yea. Oh, and then he offered me a job.

To be clear though, when I started this project (as a Watson), I never expected to make a career out of it. I don’t know why. I like working with bicycles, but for some reason, right now anyways, I’m more excited about going to work at Epic. So that’s what I’m going to do.

More on that later.

After hanging out for a bit while we waited for a taxi, we went back to the hotel and walker to Baker’s Cafe again (it was good the first time…). Back to the hotel, more movies, and then sleep… before getting up at 5 for a 7:00 flight. Thanks, Viju.

– – –

Upon arriving in Bangalore I was met by my sister’s boyfriend’s parents. Yes, you read that right. My sister lives in Washington, DC., and is dating an Indian feller by the name of Priyesh. His parents are from Bangalore, so when they heard I was coming to India, they insisted I come visit. And when Firefox gave me an unplanned weekend in Bangalore, well… it was just inevitable.

So I went home with them. And as in any proper Indian home, there was eating.


So much eating.

The plate you see there is the “I made one of everything plate, try them all and then whatever you want more of, you can dish it up again!” plate. I didn’t quite make it.

We planned a weekend of fun and the next morning… I got sick.

I’m not sure quite what it was… in fact, it probably wasn’t any one thing in particular, but many things. First off, there was the change in climates. Delhi was medium temperature and humidity. Chennai was hot and humid. Bangalore was cool and had little humidity.

Second, the food. Not that any of it was bad or unclean, just that I had tried so many different things since leaving Prabhat’s. Also, I had definitely had too much to each the previous night (the “try everything once” night).

(Warning: The next two paragraphs are somewhat explicit about my sickness)

Anyways, the parts of Saturday I didn’t spent vomiting, I spent in bed. I didn’t eat anything, because the one time I did try and eat something, I promptly un-ate it. Oh, and then there were the electrolytes. So Priyesh is a doctor. Which was awesome, because he knew some medicines that would help with my stomach upset. But he also recommended electrolytes. Now I’m sure they have flavored electrolytes somewhere in India… these were not flavored. They tasted like rotten salt. And I didn’t know salt could taste rotten. So anyways, those came back up too.

On Sunday the vomiting ceased but I was still exhausted and could hardly eat. I downed a few spoonfuls of rice but didn’t want to overdo it.

Conveniently, on Monday I was feeling good enough to… er… give a presentation.


I count 14.

But I still didn’t eat much.

More soon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Computer Woes: Mostly Solved

March 19th, 2013


Hopefully I will be able to post twice today. This first one is just an update on the computer situation; if there is a second, it will be about the trip I recently took.


So as we took off from Delhi headed for Chennai, the first of five cities to visit in the next week and a half, I decided to get some work done. I opened up my computer, turned it on, and double-clicked a few things. A word processor, some Java coding software… nothing special (it is a netbook, after all). A few load screens came up, and then… nothing happened. I tried moving the mouse, but it quickly seized. I am patient fellow, so I waited five minutes or so before trying the three-finger salute one last time, and then doing a hard shut down.

I turned the power switch, got the load screen for the motherboard, and then the following:


Subsequent boots performed no better.

I can’t thank Viju (my traveling companion) enough for being supportive in the matter. Immediately after checking into the hotel we took a rickshaw to the nearest Toshiba service center and had them take a look at it. The tech did everything I did, including removal and a visual examination of the hard drive, then told me a few things I already knew, like “Your hard drive has crashed and you need a new one,” then quoted me INR 5000 ($100) for a new hard drive.

I paid $170 for the thing so politely declined. Also, he wanted to chuck the old hard drive. I’m not convinced he wasn’t just presenting the most profitable option.

Anyways, I managed to use Viju’s various iDevices and a few hotel computers to update once or twice on the trip, but now I’m home, I wanted to figure out a more permanent solution. Prabhat’s co-worker, Kailash, is loaning me a spare laptop for the remainder of my stay, for which I am incredibly grateful. Three shouts for Kailash! Hip-hip, hurrah! Hip-hip, hurrah! Hip-hip, hurrah!

Yes, I went there.


Anyways, Kailash also “knows people” and thinks there’s hope for my hard drive yet. We’ll see what happens. At the worst, I lose all the photos taken before the trip, but I have a computer until I’m stateside again, and I buy a new one before leaving for Guatemala. At best, I get my netbook back just the way it was. Win some, lose some. Fingers crossed.

Alright, now down to business… let’s talk about the trip.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Quick Story

March 18th, 2013


Still figuring out the whole computer thing so bear with me. At the least I have a backup plan… one that involves lots of travel, but it’s a backup plan all the same. Also, I’m going to need a flash drive.

Since I’m currently borrowing a computer (thanks, baba!) I don’t have a lot of time, but I wanted to post something while I could, and what better to post than a story.

We get this bike in today and it’s not shifting properly. It’s apparently a problem Fauji doesn’t see very often because I get called over almost immediately. The chainwheel freezes as the chain travels up (from first to second and from second to third) in the front. I just taught five seminars on stuff like this so I’m all over it: The derailleur is too low on the seat tube.

We raise her up (one millimeter makes all the difference) and now the chain shifts up but not down. Loosen the cable.

Down but not up. Tighten the cable.

This battle continues and eventually we go through the whole shebang — checking FD (front derailleur) angle and height, FD wear (nothing worn off, no play in the joints), cable tension, chain wear, and chainring wear. All was well. There was really nothing more to check, so the only remaining solution was that something was wrong with the derailleur. I asked for a scale (their word for “ruler,” but it took a while before we distinguished between the weighing scale and the distancing scale) and compared the width of this derailleur to width of a brand new one.

AHAH!!! What now India.

The user had crammed the derailleur into the chain trying to get it to shift up (the original problem, remember). All that cramming had increased the width of the derailleur (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out the photo below. The wider the front derailleur, the less accurately it moves the chain).

So as an American mechanic I was like, “dudes, time for a new derailleur.”

And they were like, “Dudes, we don’t got one.”

Okay, our English was a little less ghetto. But just as we were getting ready to give up and steal one from a new bike, I was struck with inspiration. “Plaace!” I shouted, and reached for a pliers.

They watched, curious. I looked at them and said, “Indian” (we use this phrase to signify something that wouldn’t be okay to do in the states), then reached down and squeezed the heck out of the derailleur with the pliers, decreasing its width. I mean, he needed a new one anyways, right?

Stepping back to admire my handiwork, I asked one of the kids to pedal the bike while I shifted.

She shifted perfectly.

We cheered. We high-fived. We danced. The newly-skinnied derailleur guided the chain perfectly. I was now master of the Indian way. Why replace it when you can bang it into place?

2 thoughts on “Quick Story

  1. Marilyn says:

    Right, wham it into place!

  2. Jenna says:

    I had someone missed this post before. I LOVE this story!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Update When You Can

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013


So first off, thanks to my wonderful sister Laura for posting in my absence. Computer trouble indeed.

I’m currently typing from a computer in my hotel in Pune, the second-to-last city on the trip. When I get back, I should be able to either fix my computer, or find a loaner from someone… and then I will have lots of updating to do. Since I can’t really do things properly at the moment, I’ll just do a quick synopsis of how things are going —


– Left almost a week ago and the first thing that happened (aside from the armed security guards, “Expect the unexpected,” and a few other things… okay, aside from a lot of other things, which I’ll post more about later) was that my computer broke. Hence this situation.

– Made it safely to Chennai. Chennai is hot. There are mosquitoes. And beaches. We had the day off after the flight, so we went to a beach. There will be photos later. The next day I taught the first seminar of the trip to about 42 mechanics. There were language barriers, but we made it happen. Also, I’m really glad I brought my own tools, because the shop where I was doing the seminar was… er… shall we say, not in the best supply. For instance, I wanted to hold up bottles of chain lube while talking about the different kinds, but they didn’t have any. No chain lube. In a bike shop.

(again, I’m trying not to type too much, so I can update properly (and with photos) when I figure out the computer thing. Also, the computer here is not very well set up, and my wrist is starting to hurt)

– Flew out to Bangalore the next day and met my sister’s boyfriend’s parents for the weekend. Promptly got sick and spent all day Saturday vomiting and sleep (sorry, it’s true). Sunday I lazed around, choosing recovery over risk, because Monday I taught again in Bangalore, to about 12 mechanics. Afterwords, we went to a local shop (not the one I taught at) Bums on the Saddle, which is the shop responsible for getting Viju (the feller traveling with me) into cycling. The guys over there know their stuff, and they are incredibly passionate about cycling. It was inspiring at the least.

– Flew to Goa the next morning and upon getting off the plane, had to teach another seminar. The local shop was too small so we talk in the dining room of a nearby hotel owned by the same feller who owned the hotel. There were 6 mechanics — so, up close and personal (just the way I like it), but small reach. More later. Spent the evening on a beach in Goa. Oh year.

– Spent the morning exploring Goa and flew to Pune, where I’m posting from. Tomorrow will be another seminar to 22 or so and a bus to Mumbai, where we have Friday off and plenty on our to-do list. On Saturday I teach again to about 16, then fly home (t0 Delhi) late, collapsing in bed around midnight. Sunday will be “fix my computer” day and hopefully I can at least start the process of catching up on blogging before work on Monday.


Okay, my wrist hurts. Kdog, out.

2 thoughts on “Update When You Can

  1. Jenna says:

    So great to see a post! Glad the trip is going well and totally jealous of your beach time!! Can’t wait for more.

    And seriously? No lube?!?!

  2. Grandma says:

    Caleb said they don’t have chain lube stuff in Africa either so be prepared.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Computer Troubles

This is a note from Laura, Kyle’s sister, to let you know that his computer is not working right now.  He made it to Bangalore and will post an update as soon as he can.  Knowing Kyle’s resourcefulness, his blog posts will resume in no time at all.  Onward!  🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time for a Trip

March 5th, 2013

Country/Day:      India/28

Bikes Fixed:                  56

Bikes/Day Avg:               2.00

 …and not of the hallucinogenic kind.

No, Firefox Bikes is sponsoring me across India. Here’s where I’ll be over the next week and a half:



I’d like to say this means I’ll have plenty of time for blogging, but most of my flights are morning flights, and most of the time I’m in these places and not teaching bike maintenance, I’ll want to be exploring. So I’ll do the best I can to keep up. At the least, there will be lots of pictures!

2 thoughts on “Time for a Trip

  1. Jenna says:

    Can’t wait to hear about it! LOTS OF PICTURES!

  2. Marilyn says:

    Looking forward to the pictures!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *