Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Bicycle Repair Man
It was rather nice and sunny last Saturday, so we decided to head for the big city and go by bike rather the car (parking tickets/costs!) or the bus (moving greenhouse). I decided to give my bike’s tires a refill of air, and while I was at it, I also resuscitated the tires of Mrs.B’s bike.
I’d just finished the last tire, when I heard an ominous ‘PSHSHSHshshshsh’. Within seconds, the front wheel tire was as flat as a slug on a test course for steamrollers. The tire had ripped where the valve is attached.
So we took the bus to go to the city. It was damn hot inside.
Not that this was so surprising, because the ruin on two wheels that serves as Mrs.B’s mode of transport only resembles a bike of you look at it from a great distance, with your eyes squinted, in the mist, and without your glasses if you wear any. Up close you’d only see a big pile of rust, worn down rubber and various bike parts that are crooked, broken and/or all together dysfunctional.
Yesterday Mrs.B handed me a new tire and asked me to change it. Taking out the round piece of smudge and grease that once was the wheel wasn’t that difficult, it was just very, very dirty. When I took the outer tire from the rim I noticed just how worn the rubber was, it was cracking everywhere. Luckily I didn’t tear it apart, and once it came off changing the inner tire was a work of minutes (once I’d finally found my bike tools that is).
After I’d put the wheel back, I took a good look at that old bike and decided to try and improve it, as far as that was still possible. I liberally drizzled oil on the chain, the wheel axles and the brakes. Now it moves like lightning but your bum slides off the saddle and your feet off the pedals. Then I removed the remnants of the gears and one of the two old bells that dangle on the handlebars. I might as well have taken off the other one, because it doesn’t work, but then an overzealous policeman/woman might stop my wife for driving without a bell and at least now it looks as if her bike has a functioning warning apparatus. I also reattached the front mudguard, although it really needs to be replaced because under the fork the attachment point rusted away and Mrs.B reattached it with a piece of string. So every time she drives over a cobblestone road, it sounds as if someone is rolling a container of crockery off a steep hill. At least they’ll hear her coming without needing a bell.
When I’d finished my work, I took it out for a spin and a noticed that instead of riding a slow heap of rust and dirt, my loved one can now ride a moderately fast heap of rust and dirt to work.
Not that is safe to ride it at any speed, because quite a lot of the oil came on the wheel and break pads, so you need at least five hundred metres to come to a full stop. If you don’t have a backwind, that is.