2011/365/017: Zen and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance

(I thought this was the perfect image for this post, especially with all of my Pisces-Posting earlier in the week. Check out ZenBikes in NYC for all your biking needs!)

Today, I was one with my bike.

Well, the truth is, I was one with all of my bike parts that lay scattered around me. Collectively, though, there was a whole lotta zen going on in my makeshift writing/bike shop/music studio/library/peace space.

I didn’t prepare for this, though. In fact, I think I rather went into this experience a little reluctantly, wanting to lean once again on my friend T for her help, as I too-often do.

Truth: When we go riding on the NCR, my whine about my low tires is about as predictable as how those last four miles are going to feel. I never carry a pump, I always struggle with working with the Presta valves, and T always helps me out.

I admit it: My name is Rus, and I am T-dependent.

I could tell on the last few trips that she was getting a little tired of me being so helpless. One time she showed me how to pump up my own tire, and I pretended to absorb. The next time out, I believe she tossed the pump to me and ran to the bathroom. She returned to find me scratching my head after letting all of the air out of one of the tires.

Ok. Maybe that last one wasn’t so truthful. But, until today, I have been the pathetic peddler, through and through.

The last ride out, on New Year’s Day, I blew the back tire 1/4 a mile from the parking lot. And, for the last two weeks, I’ve been intimating to T that I needed to get new tires and a new tube before we could ride again. I expected (hoped? prayed?) that she would offer to get together and help me do this seemingly impossible task. She did the exact opposite. Oh, she was nice enough about it. Pointed out some vids on YouTube, offered some sage advice and encouraging words,  but she made it perfectly clear that I was alone on this venture.

I had no choice. It was me and the bike, two troubled bipeds who both needed a little repair.

I decided to bring the bike down to my writing area, wheel by wheel. I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to be in an environment that made me feel better, more at ease, calm. And, after watching a few of the tutorials on line, I got to work.

The experience was transcendent, Friends. I actually felt like I was taking care of an old friend, providing a little personal love, a little TLC to somebody who’s been with me now for over 15 years.

I made a few mistakes along the way, like putting the back tire on in the wrong direction (the treads need to point toward the front of the bike, and despite my greatest effort to visualize the bike upside down, the truth is that it was never upside down in the first place). I also scratched up my fingers a bit in the process and feel like I’m going to be a little sore tomorrow in the forearms. But that’s all good, you know? I’m sure that, when we go for our next ride in a week or two, I’m going to feel a little different on the trail, and you can bet I won’t be whining to T about how my tires need a little air.

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