Monday, February 9, 2009

on being scolded

I do not like to be scolded.
therefore, I scrubbed and scoured my bike before I took it to my favorite bike shop boy for its repair job.
I brought it into my kitchen, and half-heartedly spread a towel on the tile floor. half-heartedly because I wasn't too concerned about spilling on the tile: it would clean up just fine. I gathered a couple rags, a bowl of warm sudsy water, my degreaser and little plastic degreaser-machine, lubricant, and the blackened toothbrush I use for those tricky little spots.
plopped on the floor in front of my bike I set to work with the warm, soapy rag. yikes. I don't think there was a clean section of tube, gadget, cable, or even spoke, anywhere on that bike. and I'm just talking about surface dirt---mud---splatters from riding through puddles of melting snow.
as for real grit and grime, it was all wrapped around and clinging with a death grip to my chain and rings. ugh. I made a complete mess of my workspace, and my hands could easily be confused with those of a garage mechanic. still. 6 hours, 9 hand-washings, and 7 applications of lotion later, my fingernails remain rimmed in ghoulish black. as I predicted, the floor cleaned up just fine. my hands, however . . .
I knew there was a reason I didn't like cleaning my bike.

I think there should be bike-cleaning shops. I don't always need a tune-up; I just need the darn thing cleaned.
I think the reason there aren't bike-cleaning shops is that cleaning your bike is one of those things that true cyclists love doing. it's up there with subscibing to all the periodicals, hanging out in bike shops, oogling new toys, being a gearhead . . . I think those serious cyclists love cleaning their machines.

I wish I loved cleaning my machine.

I test rode a new bike the other day and I apologized for taking it outside where the roads were a little wet. the salesman (okay, the mountain biking dude who was working in the shop, helping me) shrugged it off as no big deal, but I was deeply reluctant to take this beautiful, shiny collection of chain and rings and cassette out into a world that would throw muck upon it. forget the gleam of the unmarred frame, the glistening seat post and front fork, the (what were they thinking?) white handlebar tape and saddle: it's the working parts that sparkle and glisten and are too pretty for me to even consider wanting to use.

but I love my bike, hammered rings and dented top tube and all. I appreciate all it's given me, and have nothing but admiration for its ability to take me everywhere it has --- and back home again. it's nicks and scrapes all come with memories, and it is probably even more beautiful than the shiny new things hanging out in the shops, waiting patiently for their own lives to begin.

it's like people, I suppose.
there are sure a lot of beautiful ones out there: young and fresh and unlined, trim and healthy and glowing. but I find that I like the ones with lines a little bit more. ones with more history, more experiences behind them, even a few scrapes and scars and dents.
they've been down the road, and come back, and have proven themselves.

like my bike.

now, if I could just learn to keep it clean because that's what it deserves, not just to avoid
being scolded.

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