I’m pretty sure that if my bike was a child, someone would have called Child Protective Services on me long ago.
Don’t get me wrong. I adore my Felt, which fits me oh-so well and has carried me on therapy sessions, taken me to bike nirvana, and played a starring role in some fantastic family outings. But I have a chipmunk brain, and as soon as I’m off the bike, I’m on to other things. Mud and grime get caked on. The chain gets rusty. I literally ride it hard and put it away wet.
I’m such an ingrate.
Husband, ever the go-getter, suggested that since we were leaving town for a week, it was a perfect time to get the bikes in the shop. Yes! Of course! Make it so! And off went his Motobecane, my Felt and Monkey Boy’s bike.
I thought nothing of it until after we returned, and I was pining for a ride. We were in the very bikeable cities of Minneapolis, whose bike path system makes me swoon, and Pella, Iowa, where my sister lives. It’s a charming place that pretty much looks as it did in the 1950s. Pella has a sweet downtown square, tidy lawns, and Dutch architecture that just lends itself to pedaling. But I never got the chance to ride.
When I got home, I reached for my trusty Felt, there was only my Gary Fisher Wahoo, which is dependable, but much heavier. I had a need for speed.
Because I’m the one in the family with the flexible schedule ( I will be your Sugar Mama someday, Sweetie!), I had to pick up the bikes. All of them. We have a bike rack that carries five bikes, which is something of an anomoly. It’s more than a wee bit fiddly, but I got it on the truck solo, with only a minimal amount of cursing.
I sashayed into the bike shop, proud of my technical skills and can-do attitude and claimed my bikes. How much, I asked the cashier. Which were your bikes? Oh, yes. Three hundred (freaking) eight dollars, please.
Yes, it was for three bikes.
Yes, they did significant work on my bike, which dearly needed some TLC.
It still stung. I stood up a little straighter and handed over my credit card.
In that moment, logic completely failed me. I was stunned, as I always get when I have an unexpected expense over $100. The past year has been a series of financial dings — some large, some small — and for a couple of minutes, this felt like one more time where someone could reach into my bank account and just take what they wanted. I was supposed to be a good little girl who didn’t whine.
Take heart, bike wrenchers. This is not a rant against what you charge for the care and expertise you offer. It is a reminder for me to pull out of my funk and breathe. And wait for the ending, which has always surprised me.
You see, in spite of the financial roller coaster we’ve been on for the past year, the money has just worked out. No matter what drama my frantic calculations predicted, we’ve been able to cover the expenses that cropped up and have a bit of fun, too. Time after time after time.
When I finally got on my tuned-up bike for a date with my husband, I was grateful for every penny spent. The bike was so very clean. It shifted smoothly each time and pedaled like butter. It was a joy to ride.
So thank you, every one of you bike mechanics who worries over the details, checks all of the parts I can’t identify, and makes all of the little adjustments that make my rides pure joy.
Come to think of it, I should probably bring my bike shop buddies a few cookies and some cold beer.
Thanks to Ecovelo for this great how-to on keeping bikes beautifully clean. Love his site.