Wow, I think that’s one of the longest breaks I’ve taken from blogging in a while. Silence snowballs. At this point, according to my usual rules I would bombard you with 18 posts today. I won’t do that; I will do six posts today and 3 a day for the next week. Here goes!
I’m no fun to be around when a project isn’t progressing. I like clear goals and benchmarking; I’m frustrated by inefficient directions and sloppy thinking. That’s why it’s taken me forever to get my bike fixed–because I only want to start that project when I am sure I can finish it right. I did not always think this way.
My bike has the following problems:
- The seat yellow foam is held on my 2 rubber-bands.
- It does not shift from 2nd to 3rd more than once without manual intervention.
- It does not shift to 1st gear, ever. The chain absconds to the hub of the wheel until I go up enough gears to coax it back.
Having reached the limits of my bike tools, and heard encouraging things from my biking friends, this weekend I meandered over to Free Ride. A bike co-op next to a grungy recycling center, it is a little bit of heaven for my younger, messier inner self. Deeper than my need for success metrics is a need to get filth under my fingernails, crunched into the cracks in my hands, dug into dings in my knuckles.
In the two hours I tooled around on my bike–attaching and detaching my derailer, removing my wheels, tweaking my breaks–I didn’t think much about what I needed out of the experience. Maybe it was the sleep deprivation, but I focused on the machine in front of me, on the mumbles and expressions of the several dozen people around me working on their projects. After my first hour, once I had the lay of the land, I asked a quick question about one part of my derailer. Then, a while later, another.
I didn’t tell anyone where I went to school, or any of the achievements I list when I want people to take me seriously (a bad habit I’m trying to get over). Other than that I used to work in a bike shop, I didn’t really talk about myself at all. It was all about the bike, and the oil, and the dirt.
I left the bike shop with the following problems:
- My seat is still help on by 2 rubber-bands.
- Neither the front nor back breaks worked (I hopped off in the parking lot, whipped out my hex, and fixed that quickly).
- It cannot shift any farther that when I walked in.
But I was satisfied. I had learned how to grease my chain and adjust my detailers. I’d been friendly to strangers and had them be friendly back. Most importantly, I was covered to my elbows in dirt and oil. The ride home, uphill the whole way, I felt connected to my whole body, and quieter within my mind than I had been when I cruised down to the grungy community bike shop.
“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.”– Ernest Hemingway