Woodlands, 62 km. It's been hard to find a middle chainring. I'd placed an order with a bicycle shop (#0). "We'll let you know when it comes." Days pass, silence. I call and am told. "Not yet, I'll let you know when it's here." Days pass, silence. I call again. "No stock," is the answer. Two weeks have passed since I placed the order. I cancel it.
Today, I resolve to find a shop which has the ring. Shop #1 has big ring and tells me to go shop R. Shop #2 has an XT middle ring but dares not install it; my crank is several years older than the ring. Change the crankset, I'm told. Shop #3 offers to order from the distributor. I reply the answer is "no stock". He says that may be a polite way of saying "don't want your business," and asks me to call him a few days later. Shop #4 (R) is closed. I go to Shop #5, which is closed. I'm just a few minutes past closing time.
A man at the door asks me what I want. I lift up my bicycle to show him the chain ring. He says he has a ring and names a price double what I expect. "At least an SLX," he says. He agrees to fix it on the spot, and reverses his shop-closing sequence. He has a basket full of chainrings! "Second hand?" I ask. He reads my mind and tells me it is a good price; he usually waives labour charge only when he sells entire components. He washes the ring and shows it to me. It looks shiny, new and similar to what I saw in Shop #2, ie, XT. I marvel at how the metal gleams and the tiny holes drilled in it to lower rotational mass.
I put the new ring through its paces. Super. Is it my imagination, or is the crank quieter and more effortless to pedal?
When part of something is broken, it doesn't mean all of it is junk. Don't give up even if several persons say it's hopeless. Look elsewhere for the answer. It's my crank, it's my life.