I’m a (soon-to-be) published short story author. It’s true. Keith Snyder’s forthcoming RIDE 3 collection of bicycle-themed short stories is due out…well, soon! He’s included a short story I wrote back in my Colorado days. I should probably be more excited about it than I am. I should be more inspired to polish up my other works and start submitting them for publication in other places. Or put them out on Kindle just for kicks. I should buckle down and write my magnum opus. It haunts me all the time.
There are a lot of things I should do that I don’t. Story of my life. One thing that doesn’t need to be done anymore is obtain and install a derailer hanger on my road bike. Done. Why has that been an issue? Geez, I can’t even remember when it was—back when it was warm, sometime last summer—I got new cables and housings for the Sporty Sport Bike (the original SSB), and installed them.
Got everything adjusted and was dying to get out for a ride. I took off one afternoon for a thirteen mile ride around between Clay City and Stanton. I was happy to just be back out on the road on the bike. Mountain biking is really my thing, but I miss bike commuting and I miss just getting out on the road bike under the blue sky.
I rode over Pompeii. The first climb went fine. The bike was doing okay. But that stupid short crux at Beechfork…ugly words. I geared down a cog or two and stood up on the pedals to power over the steep little hill and instantly dumped the chain into the spokes and ripped the derailer near off the frame.
There was no fixing it. Mandy was out somewhere beyond SAG range. I called Tomahawk and he came to my rescue. I hate not being able to fix stuff in the field. This was pretty catastrophic though.
The bike sat in the Bike Cave for many long months as I occasionally lamented my intentions to get it roadworthy again. It kept sitting. The Cannonball has been down with a lame hydraulic brake too. That left me with my two mountain bikes. And for the most part that’s been okay, except now its five o’clock dark, and I don’t have quick and easy mountain biking options near home. You’ve heard my whining and efforts to improve that situation.
I ended up putting more effort into running for a few months, but I didn’t want to be running. I’m a cyclist.
Friday I wandered into Pedal the Planet and once again mentioned my intent to fix my road bike. “I’ve just gotta pull that hanger and bring it in here.”
“It’s a Specialized?” he asked. I acknowledged the bald fact of it.
Scott produced a hanger. It looked right.
“If it doesn’t fit you can return it.”
So I bought the $12 hanger. And it fit.
I’m minus a chain for the bike. The ripping also broke the chain outright. All I need now is to get a chain and get everything tuned in such a manner as it will not dump said new chain back into spokes. It’ll be like a new bike.
Why did I put it off so long? Geez, I couldn’t tell you. Except as I sat in the cramped bike cave elbows to bike stand, pump, hanging bikes, and a storage shelf it hit me. Right in the back of the skull.
The reason I’ve stopped maintaining the fleet is because I have nowhere to work on them. We moved all the bikes into a different room in the basement and the fung shui just didn’t jive. I didn’t acknowledge it until this past weekend. But that’s the thick and the thin of it. I just haven’t had the space to throw a bike up on the stand and piddle like I needed to. Otherwise I would have had the hanger off that Focker the day after it was mangled and in to the bike shop the day after that. I knew the little aluminum J-hook wouldn’t cost much. I knew it.
This is the story of my life. There is too much clutter in my house and in my mind.
I surf the tides of irony. I’m getting the wheels back under my steeds just as winter settles onto the land like a rock slide. Oh well, I like to suffer. No, I really don’t. But sometimes you have to accept reality and savor life regardless of what you desire. I don’t hang onto regret too much. I recognize that regret negates an appreciation of the good things in life. Things could have been different, but I’d have to sacrifice things like my family to get other things I want. That’s not my priority. Family is.
I miss being a full time bike commuter. I miss riding often. I feel like I’ve lost a lot of inspiration in my life by not being on the bike. Running doesn’t do it for me. Running doesn’t tie into a deeper root system of transportation related issues and social problems like cycling does. For better or worse that kept me plugging along for a few years. I’ve lost the lifeline that led me to transportation planning in the first place.
As much as I want to I’ve not been able to master the mental acrobatics that would allow me to be even a part time bike commuter again. Part of that is the road bike. The last time I tried to commute to work the bike utterly failed me. That spurred me to get new cables and housings. That led to a broken bike. Too much friction…
I need a tuneup of body, mind, and soul. The bike part is easy after that.