6.21.2011

bike shop bikes

tonight in the alley behind my house as my younger son test rode his freshly tuned and adjusted hand-me-down 24 inch wheel bike I cleaned and repaired a few of our other bikes
our bikes were caked in mud from our assault on the Germantown Pump Track and short loop at Schaeffer Farms
chains needed to be lubed and dirt needed to be brushed off so that the bikes could be tuned so that they would be race ready for the following day's event at Wakefield Regional Park

the mosquitoes were out
in between turns of the wrenches I swatted at the gang of Asian Tiger Mosquitoes that swarmed around me
it was getting late but it was not bed time yet
Grant possessed an amazing amount of energy after what I believed to be a pretty active day

there was thunder and the threat of rain overhead
a car came down the alley and stopped
it was my neighbor John
John asked if it had been raining here
apparently it had been raining in Northern Virginia
this was not what I wanted to hear... an excess of rain could cancel the Wednesday at Wakefield evening mountain bike race

as I worked on bikes Grant complained about the brake adjustments I had just made
Grant demanded that I return things to as they were
while discussing this I noticed a woman coming down the alley on her bike
it was clear that she was novice cyclist
close to being able to ride yet not very comfortable

she was smart to be practicing away from traffic
a helmet would also be a good idea

as she came closer I looked at her bike
not sure about you but I will always go straight for the bike
every passing bike gets an inspection
from a hundred yards my focus goes straight for the bike

I was quick to notice it was a box store bike with the front fork in reverse

seeing that she was learning to ride it seemed that putting the fork right to make the wheelbase and the steering as it should be I offered to right the wrong assembly

I reached in my pocket and pulled out an allen set
with her old school stem into a threaded headset I put the brakes forward instead of back and organized the cables such that there was not too my confusion
I could not help but set the handlebar in its correct position and then the brake levers
as I tightened things I noticed that her right side grip shift shifter was broken and ineffective
with the cable lacking the tension to hold it and its housing in place
not only ineffective.... but also a potential hazard

as I tightened and straightened things I noticed the front tire was low on air
as I put air in the tires we talked
I was not sure how much she understood

her English was good but her response to me was not always clear
she told me that she had taken a photo of the broken shifter and sent it to the manufacturer
she could not recall where she had purchased it

I asked who assembled the bicycle for her
she said a friend
I asked her if she was a friend or an enemy
not sure if she understood
which was not a shock... my jokes do not translate well into any language

as I worked I made an attempt to explain the situation
the front fork was set right and everything was tightened down and not too tangled
the front and rear tires were now properly inflated
I tired to explain that a three hundred dollar bicycle at a bike shop would be better use of her money than a 150 dollar bicycle online

not sure if she understood
which is not so unexplainable
people do not always hear what is said
I can not tell you how many parties I have spent answering the usual bicycle questions
only to find that the person took up my time but did not take my advice

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