There is nothing original or unique of my love for bikes, I just love them.
I feel a special bond with this tool. It is kind of like I am in a relationship with it, it can make me the happiest I’ve ever been or it can utterly wreck me. In bicycle repair when everything is going smoothly, I feel content and a respect for the bike. When a repair is a complete hell ride, I get more frustrated then I ever get with anything or anyone else. I am deeply, emotionally invested. I am in it to win it. For the good and the bad. Until death do us part. Its because of this that when I see what used to be a quality older bicycle, until someone hammered the crap out of it, it kind of pisses me off and I want to punch a hole in the wall because I am metal and that’s the only way I know how to express my feelings.. with brute force.
In a just world there would be a bicycle equivalent of the Child Protective Services. Someone from the BPS (Bicycle Protective Services, that’s what we’re calling it) would investigate an anonymous report of bicycle abuse and neglect. They take one look at this poor bike with it’s corroded cables and housing, it’s worn drive train, it’s concave breaking surfaces, it’s loose bottom bracket and declare the owner an unfit rider. From there they would take the bike to a foster home where the bicycle would be safe until its adopted by someone proper. Have you ever read that book “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstien? Its a story of a relationship between a boy and a tree. The boy takes and takes and the tree gives and gives until it has nothing left to offer except a place to sit. The tree is your bike. Don’t be that jerk face little boy. Give a little back to your bicycle for all that it does for you and you two will live a long and happy life together.
Really, that could be said for most relationships. Kind of like, “Hey Buddy, don’t beat up your wife, instead buy her flowers. I know, I know… it’s a crude analogy, but you get the point. What’s that? You don’t? Ok, try this one on for size, she made dinner so help her out and do the dishes. Better? You know, here I am judging people again and perhaps its not a case of abuse and neglect, but rather ignorance. Maybe they just didn’t know how to properly up keep their bicycle and things just started to get out of hand.Problems just kept piling up and they just ignored them because it was too overwhelming.
When they were at wit’s end, they drove the bike out to the country, opened the car door and abandoned the bike in the middle of a field leaving it to fend for itself. There it was… cold and rusting, just waiting for someone… anyone to ride it. Finally, a country boy finds the bike and decides to jump the local gulley. This boy, let’s call him Biff, Biff isn’t too familiar with the bicycle and took up this gulley task on a dare to prove his worthiness to all the other boy from town. Biff hasn’t ridden a bicycle for years. Biff is not an athlete. Biff is about to jump a bicycle across a gulley. Biff is tripping on mushrooms. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that part? Well, he is.
Meanwhile…. this bike is freaking out. Up until getting cast aside, it got to bomb hills, had close calls, fast sprints, this bike had it all. Then, it was rusting away in a field until some wide eyed yokel came stumbling upon it mumbling something about taking jumps and finally scoring. If it had it’s way, the bicycle would’ve made a break for it, but without the rider the bicycle was at the whim of this trippy hippie. Poor bike, this is a sad story.
I am going to end this with optimism and hope that most of us want to be good to our bicycles because, in the end its really in our best interest as a rider to have it functioning properly. Undealt with problems are going to lead to other problems until its a complete overhaul scenario and all of this could have been prevented with a little care and attention. Ride your bike a bunch? Get your chain wear measured and make sure you’re not eating up your cassette. Can you pull your brake levers all the way to your handlebars before they engage? Try using your barrel adjuster (what’s that?) to increase tension on your brake cable and it will pull your pads closer to the rim. Is it dirty and wet outside? Wipe it down once in awhile. Not only your bicycle will benefit, but your bike mechanic will appreciate it too. Don’t get me wrong, I love to scrub my hands raw with a coarse brush. What girl doesn’t?