Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Commuting Woes

I am back to the daily routine of regular bike commuting. My new job has me riding in more traffic, a longer distance and more difficult intersections. Not really a problem. My bike, however, sometimes gets to be a problem. I have neglected my bike this summer. I have had limited opportunity to ride it, and less motivation to maintain it.

Yes, I have been a lazy cyclist and an even lazier bike mechanic. My bike has old (not "vintage," just old; vintage generally means expensive when new.) components (ok, vintage shifters, but that's about it) and has seen a good deal of hard riding. It needs a little TLC to keep it going. Too bad I try to do everything on a pretty frayed shoestring. My tools are cheap imitations of cheap tools, and my newest bike (not counting the Madsen or Callie's cruiser) was built in the early 90's.

This morning, the chain came off on the outside of the chainring and got twisted around the crankarm. I shrugged and got out my chaintool. This is where the trouble really came to be. I had no problem breaking the chain, but for whatever reason, the cheap chaintool I had in my bike bag jammed, and I could not push the pin back into the chain. I was wrenching outside my friendly neighborhood Burger King and so after several minutes of cursing and breaking a really cheap multitool I borrowed a pair of pliers from the hamburger princess. The pliers allowed me to gain enough leverage to force the chaintool to turn and finish the job.

This reminder that cheap is seldom better was soon forgotten as the remainder of my commute went rather well. There is a section of my commute where I take the lane for about half a mile because the shoulder is filled with parked cars, garbage cans, and sometimes large dogs and small children. I can ride this stretch at a fairly comfortable pace at over 20 MPH. I don't think I impede traffic much, especially while the crossing guards are out. A few cars passed me, which is OK, but one BMW SUV quite close while revving hard. I would assume that the purpose of this was to voice the driver's disapproval of my presumptuous behavior of riding in the lane for my own personal safety.

I chuckled when I pulled up alongside him at the next light and then at another light a half mile further along. while he was in such a hurry to get around me to get wherever he was getting to, he was at those lights at the same time I was, and couldn't leave before I did. It is nice to live at a little bit slower pace. I know I'll get there when I get there, and On my bike I just have to keep moving in order to arrive at my destination. Others race between lights just to have me pass them at the upcoming intersection.

That can be an analogy for life. There is no sense in rushing through everything when the slow lane can be so rewarding. I could certainly reap dividends by applying that philosophy myself.
Keep the rubber side down.


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