Sunday, March 31, 2013

pure wrenching. no crap.

Today I took in the first of my Bikelovejones, Ltd. tune-ups. R. brought her bike yesterday evening and I promised I'd have it for her this afternoon (no wrenching on Shabbat, of course; but I got an early start this morning).

The work was straightforward: a basic tune-up with a little extra love on the drive-train and the front wheel. As I worked I listened to music on the NanoPod that Sweetie had given me last year; I finally decided about six months ago that maybe having one of these wasn't such a bad idea, and loaded it with all sorts of music. Today's playlist included a lot of stuff by Natalie Young, a contemporary Jewish composer soon to be based in California; and a little bit of Gordon Lightfoot.
It was lovely to work in the shed, which had been cleaned out of a whole bunch of parts and accessories. These were laying out on plastic sheeting on the lawn in front of the shed. I had posted an ad to the OBRA list that I was selling off a bunch of bike stuff I no longer needed, and so I figured while I worked I'd try and get ride of some stuff. I finished the tune-up in good time and also managed to move about half of what I'd put out for sale before the end of the afternoon.

Working on the bike was pure flow. Although I hadn't been a production mechanic in over six months, I was happy to note that I still possessed my sense of mechanic's feel -- that touch which tells me when I've tightened something enough and when the spokes are tensioned enough. (No, I don't use a torque wrench; I came up in the scene before most bikes had any carbon fiber bits on them, and almost nothing I work on at home today has anything so stupid-light and fancy.)
Adjust the brake, grease the threads of the barrel adjuster, lube the cable inside the housing, buff the brake pads and voila! Happy brake. The drive-train was a filthy mess and the front wheel had a big flat spot in the rim, both of which required more of my time and attention. I took my time, carefully re-tensioning spokes until I'd removed as much of the flat spot as the rim would allow and smoothing out the smaller hops along the way. The cleaned chain hung out back, drying in the sunlight after being scrubbed in citrus solvent. The sense of normalcy I felt at all of this was a balm for my nervousness and anxiety about the last few months.

By the time I was finished the bike was rolling and shifting beautifully, and gleamed like polished silver. Above all, it felt nice to take a break from the intensity of my career transition and forward motion to simply Fix A Bicycle. I suppose I can't ever give up bicycle repair completely, because the balance that I get from doing even a little of it alongside what is now my primary work is too good.

At 3 o'clock, my friend came and collected her bike, I shut down the "yard sale", and I went inside, feeling calmer and more relaxed than I'd been in weeks.

May the Eternal One bless all the works of my hands.

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