Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wrenching


Gentle Readers .....

I have been remiss in my writing of late.  Truth be told, I had lost my job, and was fully committed to finding  new gig.  This left little time for writing.  After about a month's worth of being unemployed, I was offered a job - a really decent job - and will be starting up there shortly.  We then took a long-overdue trip to visit family in Minnesota, which is where I am as I write this.  Things are settling back to a semblance of normal and I feel like I have the time and energy to write.  So without further gilding of the lily ......

I take care of most of the mechanical needs for our bikes.  I really enjoy the activity and feel like there are a number of benefits.  You save money, become more intimate with the working of a modern bicycle and have a better riding experience overall.  There is also a therapeutic value to the activity.

Bike shops are equipped to handle any problem that may arise with a bicycle, but it comes with a price.  Along with the cost of parts, there are often shop fees associated with the routine maintenance, repairs and upgrades that are part-and-parcel to owning a modern bicycle.  Doing this work yourself saves on shop fees, which can add up quickly and may cost ore than the parts involves.  It also frees you, the consumer, to find the best price you can on the parts you want or need,  So by wrenching your own bike, you can save a bit of money.  For me, She Who Holds The Purse Strings really appreciates this.

It may seem kind of strange to speak of intimacy with a machine, but this is what wrenching your own bike gives you.  After a while, there isn't a single part of your bike that is unfamiliar.  You know very nut, bolt, screw and other bits that are on your bike.  If something is going wrong, or out of adjustment, you know about it long before it becomes a problem.  You also know what needs to be done to fix or correct it.  Oftentimes, this level of intimacy, allows you to correct minor issues as a matter of course.  The bike is almost always in peak condition as a result.

This leads us to the overall experience in riding the bike.  Because you wrench it yourself you are always fully aware of your bike's condition.  As a result of this, you ride with greater confidence in the machine.  You ride without the worry that something may go wrong.  Everything is as it should be, so you can relax and enjoy the ride.

While all that is important, the biggest benefit I get is from the therapeutic value of the activity.  Although my cancer isn't foremost in my mind, it's still a thought that lingers, and there is always frustrations and anxieties that go along with it.  Like anyone else, my life has its share of other stresses which can sometimes weigh heavily on heart and mind.  Being able to take a cup of coffee down to The Shop and tinker with one of our bikes is a remarkable source of relaxation.  It may be a something major, like replacing a part, or readjusting the derailleurs and it may be a simple as cleaning the chain, or just detailing the bike.  Whatever I do leaves me calmer, happier, satisfied and relaxed.  The cares and concerns of the day are suddenly gone.  As Steinbeck said so well (and I paraphrase),......

The world, once again, spins in greased grooves.

So, there's a lot to be said for wrenching your own bike and there's really nothing much to it.  Modern bicycles are relatively simple machines whose workings are easily understood and learned.  You can save a buck or two, be a better cyclist, have a lot more fun and it can even help you feel better.

Feeling better is important.