You professional bicyclists and year-round riders may not want to read this – it may make you cringe.
My bicycle has been left to fend for itself the fifteen years I’ve owned it. Except for the occasional pumping up of tires I have done nothing – no oiling of chains, or whatever else you’re supposed to do each spring. Even still, it’s been my reliable companion through all its neglect. Until tonight.
I forced open my metal shed door and started to dig through all the “stuff” shoved in there for the winter. Why and how did I end up with three shovels? How did my bike end up sitting on top of the lawn mower? And where was that darned bike pump!
Dusty, but basically in one piece, I pried out my bike. Front tire was low, but back was completely flat. I pumped them both up and all seemed good.
I set out on my journey, just me and my bike, to watch my grandson’s soccer game. I made it in time to see him score a goal. Gave him a hug and set out to continue my ride. Or not.
My back tire was flat. So, I walked my bike home. I passed a gas station and was elated when I saw the air pump – but you had to put in a dollar! Shouldn’t air be free? It was a VERY long walk.
However, it was a lovely evening for reflecting on things that need reflecting on. Like, why don’t I own a bike emergency kit – do they even make such a thing? Am I the only person on earth who doesn’t have a cell phone? Where are my neighbours – the ones with trucks – and why aren’t they driving by me? I don’t have any I.D. on me – what if I fainted from fatigue?
After I got home I checked out the Internet for tips on upkeep of a bicycle. There was one called, “101 Bicycle Maintenance Tips”. What!! How can there possibly be 101 things to do to a bicycle!
It mentioned such things as checking tightness of crank bolts with a torque wrench and periodically checking bearing play in the hubs and cranks. I had no idea what it was trying to instruct me to do. My bike only has a frame, two tires, handle bars, pedals, a seat and brakes.
Needless to say, on my lunch hour tomorrow I’ll be driving to Canadian Tire in search of a new tube, and any other gadget that my bike needs. I promise to end the neglect of my trusty bike and treat it with respect.
Humour aside, I was completely unprepared for a “bike breakdown”. Don’t get caught in a similar situation!
Get the most out of your bike riding this season – educate yourself on how to prepare your bike. There’s a lot of information on the internet, or a knowledgeable rep at your local bike shop should be able to help you. If you’re going for a long ride, take with you an emergency tire repair kit, bottle of water, small first aid kit and a cell phone. Don’t forget to wear your helmet!
Cover photo by Bryan Sullivan