As a kid I spend many of my weekend days in my dads garage/workshop. At the back of the house we had a reasonably sized building my parents build themselves. Inside most of the space was taken up by the 5.6 meter long boat my dad sailed around the south of Europe with. An exciting place for me and my younger brother to re-enact all sorts of worldly travel tales. Other prominent features of the garage were a staggering collection of bicycles, two motorbikes, camping gear, wood in all shapes and forms and large collections of tools, screws, nails etc. I loved spending time here, dad would give me little jobs. Things like sorting screws/bolts/nuts/nails by size into blue plastic mushroom-containers, or I would work on my own little wood sawing projects. I learned the basics of loosening and tightening bolts, righty tighty – lefty loosy. Got introduced to the wold of spanners, adjustable spanners, allen keys and the like. Little did I know that 20 years down the track all of these lessons would come in very handy.
The chookchaser and me found our way through Sumbawa, Lombok, Bali and the eastern part of Java before arriving in Jogjakarta. While in Kupang (West Timor), I met 2 amazing people, Andy and Shinta. They were travelling on their own bike when we met. After a great night of sharing night-market fish, tourist information and motorbike travelling stories they invited me to their place once I would reach Jogjakarta. I was about 40 km from the city when the sky came down. The heaviest rain so far on the trip. Within minutes the water had gone through my waterproof rain jacket, waterproof bike jacket and other clothes to reach my skin. Rivers flowed freely over the highway, while locals acting like flag weaving pylon indicated the edge of the road. My headlight decided it didn’t like and and so the last 40 km were spend carefully following a well-lit car. It took just over an hour to reach Jogjakarta in the pouring rain, but when Andy picked me up from the edge of the city and guided me to their place, all of the hard times were soon forgotten.
“So let’s get this bike in site” he said. I looked at the narrow ramp (concreted in the middle of the stairs) leading to the narrower corridor which led into the back of the house. My heart rate suddenly went up. When riding up that thing, I wouldn’t be able to put my feet on the ground, I’d have to get up at once… But after riding through rivers an hour before I was sure I should be able to manoeuvre the bike in. To be sure not to drop the Chookchaser of its side I asked Andy to stand behind it and catch me of anything would go wrong. We lined the bike up with the ramp and I controlled my nerves, opened the throttle and smoothly went up. A sigh of relieve left me. In the narrow corridor we found out that the side boxes needed to come off to get the bike inside. But that too wasn’t much of a problem.
“So what do you want to do on the bike” The chookchaser was now positioned in the mancave at the back of the house. Within 30 minutes of my arrival the bike was in pieces. The boxes came off, the rear shock needed a make-over, the front brake disk was slightly bend, the headlight gave up in the last 50 km before Jogjakarta and the chain could do with a good clean and some tightening. Also some weight re-distribution was needed, more weight needed to be carried at the front of the bike. The solution, a toolbox mounted to the frame at the front of the bike.
Over the next two weeks many hours were spend in the mancave. Andy continued the teachings where my dad left of. He showed me how to bleed brakes, change tyres, build toolboxes out of pvc-pipe, clean chains with a petrol-oil mixture and many other things. As a first time student for a large part of these skills, it generally came down to Andy doing most of the work and me watching intently while handing the right tools. However, I do feel a lot more confident about bike repairs now. And it was great spending time in the mancave, it somehow felt like travelling back in time, to the days I spend in my dads garage.