We’re in a remote part of South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province, building bicycles to hand over to healthcare workers as part of Bicycling magazine’s BikeTown Africa project. I’ve had a crash-course in bike building today.
It’s Kona Africa Bike 101
1. Carry the box from the room where they’ve been stored, dodging the soccer players, the dancers and the loiterers en route.
2. Shoo away the excess children, selecting two or three earnest-looking types as helpers. Open the box.
3. Remove three items (box of tricks, folded-up basket, the seat) and the bike. Unwrap the bike. Look for bolt cutters. Try not to snip the tyres as you cut the ties binding all the components together.
4. Search for no. 10 spanner. Attach the front reflector and the fender to the front fork.
5. Undo the fender from the front fork. (You’ve put it on the wrong way round.) Swing the Kona logo on the forks to the front. Redo point 4 above.
6. Put the front wheel on (checking the arrow spins forward) and the kickstand down. Shoo away excess kids. Put the kickstand down, the seatpost in, the handlebars in (greased) and up (level – and very firmly bolted to ensure that some mama doesn’t wipe out when she puts all her weight on it.) Shoo away excess kids.
7. Grease the pedals, look for R and L, and softly, softly roll them forward and in. Yell (diplomatically) at kid on opposite side to ‘softly softly’. Search brain for how to explain the perils of cross-threading. Give up.
8. Search for no. 8 spanner. Search for star screwdriver. Attach the front basket. Search for star screwdriver. Ensure back carrier screws are tight. Wait in line for pump. Inflate the tyres to 60.
9. Wheel out and replace, dodging the soccer players, the dancers and the loiterers en route.