Wednesday, January 23, 2008
BaaaaaD Valve Stem!
Gooood bike mechanic!
Remember when you were a kid how a parent would tell you that after the big test/game/doctor visit/show etc. you were going for ice cream, pizza, or whatever treat? Then when it came time to go something went awry; the place was closed, they were out of your favorite flavor, or you had car trouble? You had tasted the flavors of your favorite food for hours in anticipation and when you couldn't satisfy the craving it just about drove you out of your skin? You know you're in deep when you feel that way about a bike ride.
I had run some errands earlier on the bike. Stopped at home to drop off the odds and ends and add more layers of spandex before taking on a series of hill climbs. I was really looking forward to the workout.
My front tire seemed a little soft so I grabbed the little hand pump to top it off. I hit it wrong somehow and emptied the rest of the air from the tire. Now the stem (which was bent to begin with) was stuck too far down and all efforts to grab it sufficiently failed. The pump itself appeared to be working improperly so I disassembled part of it and put it back together. No luck. I was crazed at this point. I futzed with it like an orangutan for about fifteen more minutes before admitting defeat.
Crouched on the patio all suited up, helmet and gloves, my fiery steed crippled, I felt just like a little kid staring through the glass at a vat of Jamocha Almond Fudge where the Peppermint Fudge Ribbon was supposed to be.
Now a normal person would just deal, put their sweats back on and find something else to do. A bike nut on the other hand puts on street shoes, throws the bike in the pick up truck and drives (in rush hour traffic) to the LBS IMMEDIATELY!
The muscles in my legs bitched and cursed the whole way like horses stuck in the starting gate.
I rolled into B&L ten minutes before closing where the crew were just putting the shop to bed. Elliot saw my pooh face and asked what was the matter. I held out the falling-apart-pump... Of course it was a tiny problem and all was made right in a blink. I caught up on the news and found a shiny new pump.
What struck me as I meandered around the half darkened shop and chatted with the grease flecked guys was how much I felt welcome and at home. There was no question why I had to have my bike working RIGHT NOW! No one was looking at me like "oh god another customer before closing!" I asked about some of the new toys and no one was in a rush to get me out the door. If the problem had been bigger they would have stayed without hesitation. As I wheeled the bike out to the truck no one hurried behind to turn the locks. They are cyclists. They get it.
It was dark by the time I got back so I ended up at the gym consoling myself with the fact that the bike would be ready for me in the morning.
Today dawned with the howling wind on the edge of a storm front that is moving in to town so I didn't get quite the laps in that I had anticipated... But the warmth of the previous evening's adventure stuck in my heart. I feel truly blessed to be a member of this crazy bike tribe.
The storm will pass soon. It's the little things that make life sweet.