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Stuck In First

Last Saturday, after Frisbee, a few of the gang hopped into my car to head to Jamba Juice, a nearly weekly tradition. While the 1996 Saturn SL1 sedan I drive had been working fine on the way to frisbee, when leaving I quickly noticed that it was not shifting into second gear, a gear I use very frequently. It felt like something the shifter connected to had come loose — somewhat like the connection between a sink drain plug and the knob used to set it, had fallen off. The problem quickly grew worse — after Jamba Juice, the car would no longer shift into any of the gears that involved pulling the shifter down — namely second, fourth, and reverse. Needless to say, getting out of the UVilliage parking lot was difficult — thankfully, Ananth and Boby were both there to push. Nevertheless, I managed to persevere for the first half of the next week — I park on an upward incline and can therefore back out without reverse. At work and around town, I parked in a way that allowed me to exit by pulling forward. Nevertheless, things were still worsening. On Wednesday, I was beginning to have trouble shifting out of gears. Wednesday after work, I found that I could no longer shift out of first gear at all. So, it was definitely time to visit the shop. The drive to Saturn of Bellevue was a bit painful — I couldn’t shift out of first so the trip involved a lot of slow, high-rpm travel. On flat areas of the road, I would bring the engine up to about 5,000 rpm, which would bring the car up to about 35 miles per hour, then I would coast down to about 15 and repeat. Up hills, I just let the engine run at about 3,000 rpm and took the hit in speed. I finally made it — and even managed to park the car backwards into a stall by using gravity and a little bit of fancy footwork. My Dad picked me up and I ate dinner with the parents before heading into Seattle to pack for the trip to Toronto that I am currently on. On my way out of Cleveland to Toronto, I talked to my Dad and recieved the happy news that the repair cost only $65 — $60 for labor and $5 for the piece that had broken.

Meanwhile, to coincide with my trip, I took my mountain bike, a Giant DS2 ETX into Recycled Cycles for some more planned maintenance. The estimate came to a cool $265 for a new cassette (rear gears), a new middle gear on the front (the old one was bent), a new chain (the old one was stretched and worn), a new rear wheel and tire (both practically falling apart), and a new cable and cover for the rear derailleur (the old one had become frayed and kinked). The repairs will actually total more than I paid for the bike originally, just about a year ago. With the use its seen since then, I think this maintenance is well worth the price.

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