A few days back I noticed that my bicycle was making a fan-fucking-tastically egregious squeaking as I rode it home from work. This is expected behavior from bicycles that get ridden hard and put away (literally) wet. At home I have chain lubricants, it's the work of three minutes to spin the wheel and fix yourself up. Unfortunately my behavior when I get home is to throw off my backpack, close the garage door, and run up the stairs. The next morning I'm in a hurry, of course so nothing happens then...
That's how it came to be a blazing hot day and I'm at work getting ready to leave when I remember that my bicycle sounds like a choir of a thousand mice being tortured to death. Damn. In this heat and with this headache it is going to sound exceptionally disgusting.
I get this idea. My idea is that I'll stop at the REI on the way home and see if their bike shop would put some lubricant on my chain. I don't want to buy more (I have plenty at home as this forgetful scenario is not a fresh one) and the tech may charge me a few bucks but might also float me a freebie. I've been to the place before to pick up some lights and tubes on occasion, so it's not total freeloading (I reason) and I'm a member...
I walk my shrieking bicycle in and to the back. A skinny bicycle technician grins and takes my bicycle and says it is no trouble and he proceeds to do a very thorough job on the chain. But I can immediately tell that there will be a bill at the end and I regret that it won't be anything a VISA card can handle.
The other guy working (on a land cruiser, ewww) is familiar to me. I had brought my bicycle in one disgusting wet day with a flat tire. I was cold and wet and late for work. It was my second flat in two days. I wanted to fork over my money and ride out with a fixed bike. I got that but I also got a lecture. The lecture went along the lines of "people who have road bikes should be able to fix their flat tires in any weather and if they can't they shouldn't be on road bikes. Maybe they shouldn't be bicycling at all."
Well fuck you too. Yes it is better to be a person who fixes their own flat tires and does all their own work. But how many working people fix their own cars these days? Who punishes a car owner for bringing their car into the shop? Fuck you. If I'm cold and wet and late for work and I want to shell out $15 I'll pay to have someone fix my flat tire.
Back to the squeaky chain day. There's that guy. And he can't help himself. He starts right in. When did I last bring the bicycle in for maintenance? Well I ride every day, it's not easy to make the time. There should be loaner bikes right? Haha.
him: "Are you an REI member?"
him: "Well you know that we offer bicycle maintenance classes. You should sign up."
me: [appreciates that this is the emotional bill, and I need to pay] "Great idea."
him: "The road bike is a sensitive instrument. It needs a lot of attention."
me: "Actually I have lubricant at home, but I forgot this morning..."
him [continues as if I said zero, tone snarky and critical] "The bicycle is a finely tuned instrument."
me: "yeah, yeah it is."
Then the guy who ACTUALLY HELPED ME as opposed to the guy who lectured me handed my bicycle back and I thanked him over and over and we chatted a little about Trek. I tried to tip him but he laughed and shook his head.
So, to the other guy, who will hitherto be referred to as "The Swine" here's what I didn't say because I was paying the bill by letting you be a jerk.
Fuck you. Anyone gets to have a road bike. It is such a crock that these bicycles are little Thoroughbreds that can't be taken out on a wet day or a dry day or an uneven day. Bicycles need next to zero. It's one of their beauties. When the gears get used up they get replaced. When the chain gets used up, replace that too. Most of it lasts for at least a year (even with the heavy use my bike gets) before it needs to be replaced. We all deserve nice fast bicycles. Anyone who actually rides (as opposed to storing their bike) deserves something they love that feels wonderful and free. And thankfully the mechanism of the bicycle hasn't changed a lot. You can maintain it (easily and occasionally) or fork over for someone else to do it. So get off your high horse already. It's lame.