Friday, June 20, 2014

Week 3 - Rivets and 'chatting' with Microsoft...

The chain and sprockets on the XT660 needed replacing and as I still don't have the tool to rivet them myself I went to a bikeshop. The workshop manager, a very nice guy, wanted to know all about the trip and was very enthusiastic. The 'job' was literally 5 minutes as it involved removing the clip link I had temporarily put in there and replace it with the rivet link we had with us. The workshop manager wanted to wave us on our way but the owner of the shop decided we had to pay and worked out an hourly rate of US$ 110,- to fit a rivet link… 

I looked at him and realised some people just don't get it and never will. It also made me realise I need to get me one of those rivet tools as the perfectly fine clip link is simply no longer available in this part of the world. As the fork oil in the XT was pretty dirty I decided to replace mine too. Good move as it was just as black, although my bank account is now also red as the stuff costs US$ 35,- a litre here! I also fitted a couple of 10 mm spacers on top of the springs to compensate sag.

Bushes to compensate for sag
I'm not quite sure what happened in this part of the world with motorcycles. When I started riding, bike shops were helpful and friendly. Prices were normal too, on par with the automotive industry. Now motorcycles have become a luxury, a yuppie fashion thing and prices have gone through the roof. At the same time customer service no longer seems to exist, instead we've just become a financial number to most of them. Am I a cantankerous old bugger? Probably. I'm certainly old enough to realise that progress isn't always better. 

My kind of bike shop, no frills no bullshit,
Motorama, Ticul, Mexico
Of course Mike doesn't see it that way. He walks into a bike shop and goes all gooey when he sees the new shiny models on display. The strategically placed spotlights adding to the magic feel and appealing to the senses. He wants to sit on them, touch them, feel them and smell them. Looking at the digits of the pricetag brought him down to earth somewhat… 

The bikes are ready to go. Well, almost. The servicing and repairs are done, but we are waiting for a set of panniers from Holan which should arrive middle next week and have yet to be fitted. We are at the time of writing waiting for quite a bit of gear. Jackets, pants, gloves, helmets, soft luggage, fuel bottles, chain oilers and rear shock absorbers for both Triumphs. It's all gonna be very hectic at the end of next week, when everything should be here, that's for sure.

Meanwhile I was trying to sort through my photos from the first two continents of the trip. I had made one little mistake… well a big mistake, I had decided to use the RAW format and now have a photo file that is unmanageably big. It's fine for the computer and as Pentax uses the DNG format Photoshop can handle it fine. It just takes up an enormous amount of space when your photo file reaches 30.000 photos! I seriously needed to convert these all. Luckily there is such a thing as batch processing but it still takes an enormous amount of time.
E-mails are flying all over the place last week too. Forms need to be filled in and returned and in between we're also trying to update the blog with posts about Nicaragua and Costa Rica plus reports on how our gear performed. At times like this the electronic gremlins need to leave us alone… so they didn't. Suddenly we couldn't access our e-mails anymore…! As the same account is also used for the skydrive, that meant serious problems. We tried every possible solution but Microsoft Live kept coming back with 'sorry we encountered an error, please try again'

Trying to get online help resulted in a maze of so called FAQ, which stands for frequently answered questions. Of course I couldn't find a solution there and thus kept looking for a contact form or something as we needed our e-mail to work! In the end I did find one. An online chat, how refreshingly modern… They placed me in a queue but assured me I would be connected to a specialist shortly, a 4 star specialist no less. Click on the video above to get a 'feel' of how that went… Of course I have no idea how many stars there are, I mean 4 might be the absolute minimum? 20 minutes and 3 re-tries later I was finally greeted by the specialist, who asked me how I was doing… How am I doing? What da ya think? I've just been in a virtual queue for 20 minutes because the freaking e-mail doesn't work! I'm fine: Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional.

To make matters worse the 4-star specialist referred me to another queue… aaarggh! Another 45 minutes later I was greeted by what looked like a 13 year old female 6-star specialist. They even showed her photo and next to it a text that read 'click here if you want Tina to call you'… Are we still talking Microsoft here or have I been transferred to a totally different industry? After 15 minutes the screen reported that Tina was too busy for me… what?!? Maybe Tina had found out how old I am… The screen showed a message that informed me they were looking for a replacement… The replacement was a 5-star, 14 year old boy named Jim. 

Jim didn't ask me how I was doing, he probably realised that I was pretty annoyed by now and just wanted to sort the problem out asap. He did too. I'm pretty sure he changed a few dials and switches behind the screen as suddenly all the endlessly repeating error screens miraculously disappeared. We had our e-mail back and were greeted by an e-mail from Haynes who offered us digital copies of our workshop manuals so that we don't have to take 2kg of books with us anymore!

The Bonnie black getting its black fork oil replaced