“It’s no good, something’s not right, I‘m gonna have to stop for a minute”. Sound familiar? With the exception of the exclusively solo rider, pretty much everyone at some point in their riding history will experience that moment when the pair or group grinds to a halt as the annoyance of the offending ‘thing’ overwhelms the instinct to keep turning the pedals no matter what.
Sometimes it’s just a little hiccup – a squirt of oil on the chain guide roller, was all that was needed to keep my spinning karma firmly intact on this weekend’s ride. But at other times, it seems that your theoretically simple bicycle takes on a unique complexity of its own, and no amount of trailside tweaking can solve the niggle. So you rattle on round the rest of your loop, muttering about ‘suspension settings, bearing wear, tyre pressures, worn out running gear’… while mentally scrolling through the possible factors that could explain why your once perfectly tuned and fettled machine, is no longer behaving how you expect it to.
Head down and distracted, you don’t notice the first hint of bluebells grabbing the light before the woodland canopy bursts into life, you miss the fleeting glimpse of a young deer startled by your passage, and you barely register the growing richness of the pastures as the passage of the seasons gathers pace.
Back in the workshop, it takes a systematic and patient hand to trace the problem, and to diagnose and fix the source of your discontent. As often as not, this involves a dismantling and rebuilding process, with washers and bolts ‘pinging’ off metalwork in a bid to escape. To understand what’s going on – or going wrong – you have to be prepared to look at the bike’s parts and the connections; but the effort is worth it for the smooth shifting and quiet rotations that mark its return to a functioning whole. With this time invested, its role as your transporter and vehicle to a world of sensation and experience is restored.
Bike mechanics providing life lessons?
Sometimes, you just have to be prepared to step back a bit and look again at the constituent parts. It’s how you choose to put them together that makes all the difference.