One sunny Friday last month I decided to install new fenders on my bike. All I had to do was unscrew the broken parts and put on new ones. What could go wrong? I found a wrench and screwdriver and set to work.
Four bolts, two screws, three washers and four nuts later, the last screw remained completely blocked by the back wheel.
A glass of lemonade, two nuts, three washers and a kickstand later, the back wheel was still trapped inside the brakes.
After wrestling the back wheel out from the chain I took the front wheel off too. This made sense at the time, I'm sure....
As I stopped to look around me I realized that my plan to keep track of parts as I took them off had FALLEN TO PIECES (hurr hurr). Pieces of bicycle were strewn all about the lawn. Washers and nuts were scattered throughout a forest of grass blades. The chain had snotted grit-filled grease all over my hands and to top it all off, somehow the last of my lemonade had tipped over.
I no longer knew which parts went where and I began to panic. My brain went into overdrive to try and sort through the kaleidoscope of pieces. Bike? What bike?
|This is practically a genuine scientific drawing. Of my brain. Yep.|
Dejected, I plopped myself down on the grass to collect myself and contemplate my failure.
Becky, the wife and mother of two who lives upstairs from my apartment, passed through the backyard and saw me sitting in the grass amidst my frustrating dismantled heap of a bike.
"Ellen, you're so handy!" she said.
I died a little inside.
I'm sure Becky thought my small mountain of dismembered-bicycle chaos was somehow impeccably organized inside my brain. I knew otherwise, and the cosmic void separating her perception and my reality was depressing.
After a long break I finally got down to business to
Boy, was I proud of myself! I felt capable, even self-congratulatory.
This was a mistake. [Obligatory hat-tip to Hyperbole and a Half]
Now feeling like the self-appointed master of all things cycling, I decided that just putting the bike together wasn't enough. No, I had to fine-tune this beast into a [Tow Mater voice:] precision instrument of speed and aromatics!
The first thing to do was to loosen up my seized brakes. What could I use to lubricate them? I ransacked the garage and found a can of WD-40. Yay! That stuff is supposed to work on everything from evil zippers to spastic lawnmowers, right?
After squeezing some WD-40 around the joints I tested out the brake arms. I didn't notice much improvement... that was weird. So I added more, but the brakes acted like they were trapped in a slow-motion freeze-ray. When I finally couldn't move them at all, pebbles of doubt began to ripple through my mind.
I was the sorcerer of all things cyclic and surely my bike was the problem... but I decided to look it up anyway.
The following is a list of things that did not happen:
- I didn't die
- I didn't damage my bike... permanently
- I didn't try to ride my WD-40-soiled bike and get pitched off of a cliff
- I didn't take the can of WD-40 and actually... no. Just no.
So really, it could have been worse. And I DID fix my bike... eventually.