Sunday, July 1, 2007

What are Parents good for? To rescue and assist their kids. But as long as it is for healthy problems, that's fine. Our latest "job" was buying sturdy bicycle wheels that will support an armored tank (rear weight of about 130 kg) and sending them to Urumqi, almost the most western part of China!

Our story, Rachel and Ralph's, started when we received a S.O.S. call from Gal & Rami (henceforth G&R) for urgent supply of parts to rebuild damaged bicycle wheels, around mid June. Their Chinese visa was running out, so time was urgent to locate the items in Israel. Needless to say, almost all the parts are manufactured in mainland China!
The rim of Rami’s back bike wheel had broken along with many spokes. Rachel connected Rami via Skype with two of their experienced bikers in Israel, to receive recommendations on what replacement parts to buy. We got from Ehud Dahari most needed items; spokes, 2 new chains, and 2 SRAM cassettes. Rachel was happy when she found the phrase & tour books & a few small personal items. Now we needed the shipping address, which we received a few days later, and waited to inform G&R that the package is ready to go.

Easy? Woo, not so fast! Urgent request from Rami, he needs a completely new "extra strong" rear wheel to replace his broken but successful repaired rim. Again via Skype, Rami consulted this time with Erez Manor. Rachel didn't want to travel far to Beeri & connected Erez with Andres Goldman, the store manager of Rosen & Meents in Raanana. Erez said to rely on Andres who assembled a proper extra strong wheel, with super strong spokes, a good hub (Naba) & together with the SRAM cassette the job was done.

This “super” wheel was at a “super” price, a price that R&R paid last year for 2 pairs of bikes for local trips!
Now the wheel was ready for shipment. Ah, not yet! Now G&R decided that Gal should also have a new "strong" back wheel as they still have a long way to go. With the help of Tamar, Gal's mother, Rachel & Andres spoke with G&R from the store to decide on the second wheel. And now another delay: Andres had to order the parts, a lost of another precious day. When the parts arrived, Andres got sick, another lost day. And the kids visa is rapidly running out! The next day Andres come to work sick, specially to assemble Gal’s wheel. Rachel requests a sponsorship or a discount from Rosen & Meents. Finally the two wheels + other items are ready for shipment!
But wait, the box was too big for EMS courier so we had to use a more expensive courier. Some quoted prices are enormous - over $600. Why don’t R&R simply buy plane tickets to Urumqi and personally handle the Kids their new wheels? We are told that the shipping price depends either on volume or weight - the higher one. So keeping the box to the smallest possible size is absolutely critical. Here R&R, experts on packing, custom built the smallest possible box to hold the 2 wheels, extra bike accessories, books, personal items & some pictures of our grandchildren, Jonathan and Shai.

In the end we got the shipping price down to $285 from TNT.
BUT, never mind the price - time was crucial. TNT told us the package should arrive Urumqi only by 9 July. Waiting impatiently to get G&R's approval, they agree & inform us that their visa was extended for an additional 30 days.
Worrying about customs in China, Rachel called the Chinese girl who should receive the package, and had to try to use her little knowledge of Chinese.
So after 2 exhausting weeks, we finally learned about the art of bicycle wheels and their components. Should we open our own bike shop now?

Lastly, our thanks to Rami's brothers - Alex & Danny, Ehud Dahari, Erez Manor, Andres Goldman, Rosen & Meents, for all their help.

Posted by Ralph & Rachel Rosenbaum, Raanana, Israel.