Every spring the household bicycles begin sounding like arthritic Golden Retrievers. They shuffle when they change gears. They stumble at the starting line when the traffic light turns green. They squeak like unenthusiastic field mice when called upon to corner. Winters here are so mild as to barely earn the moniker winter but it does rain and we do ride a lot and by spring, just when the bicyclists begin to feel their oats the bicycles are feeling their age.
A month or so back the Contraption Captain decided to investigate why his bicycle was softly saying "wibble-wibble-wibble-wibble." Turns out the rear wheel was missing two spokes. Fortunately the average bicycle has many many spokes, n +a_bunch and so for awhile he did nothing at all, a situation sure to cue horror from more attentive bicyclists. I know people who spend time cleaning their bicycle after every ride and I totally salute those people in the same way I salute people who can fold their towels so that they line up perfectly in the linen closet and then they bundle each set of towels with an organic ribbon so it's ready to set out on a perfectly made guest room bed when company arrives. Go those people!
But I am not one of them and neither is the Contraption Captain. My bicycle gets ridden (mostly back and forth to work, but other errands as well) about four thousand miles each year. I wear a chain out something like once every eighteen months. My brakes wear down and need replacing and sometimes a cable gets used up. Some of the wear could be minimized but not a lot and the happy news is that bicycles just don't need a lot of attention and most of the attention they do need can wait until the problems reach such a point that they are totally driving you up the wall with their wailings and grindings of gears and you break (brake) down and do some repairing or if you are me you look soulful until Contraption Captain does the repairing.
The spokes and the wibbling and more worrying, the something Not Quite Right with the rear brakes worked on Contraption Captain until he took his bicycle out of commission a week back and Rapunzel, Pele and I crowded into the shop (technically a garage but we call it the shop because our car hasn't been indoors since...well...ever..) to stare at the Tour Easy which he had tied to the ceiling.
What happened next:
- replace 2 broken spokes, including trimming length and re-threading replacements
- re-true the wheel
- repack the wheel bearings
- replace worn bearing surfaces on axle
Notably, what did not happen? Correct. The rear brake is still not totally okay where by "not okay" I mean "the brake does not stop the bike." Fortunately the front brake works. For now.
How'd we manage while down a bicycle? Mostly ok. Pele had soccer training on Saturday and Sunday and I bicycled out to drop her off and collect her. She's a not so little anymore workhorse who is happy to pedal to a practice because of the chance to get some additional cardio done. Her bicycle is just visible to the left in this picture just as the front wheel of my bicycle is just visible to the right.
What is not visible? The orange flag on a stick that I made Contraption Captain buy and mount to the back of Pele's bicycle. The flag was the newest manifestation of my compulsive need to barricade my family from cars. Pele now has two (two! wtf, two?) rear view mirrors and one orange flag and a bicycle helmet. I haven't started pricing out Kevlar vests just yet but I suppose it's on the horizon somewhere.
Anyways. Stay tuned to find out the answers to burning questions like: Does Contraption Captain fix his rear brake? Do I find a way to install a cow-catcher to the front of Pele's bicycle? Do I surreptitiously add a klaxon to Rapunzel's bicycle?