Luck and hopin’ – Bike Mechanics by Alice

The sense of purpose and ownership of my task I feel when biking (and while wearing my shiny, blinky, reflector vest) extended nominally to my actual, physical bike as well.  I have never been much of a bike mechanic.  I think I could ride my bike to any point on the globe, if I did not have to change a tire.  As soon as I hear that fateful *Pop…hisssssss* of the air draining from my tire and my spirits, I hunker down for the long haul as I either wait for someone (read as Joey) comes to save me or I….I…..well ok, I just wait for him to save me.  As much as I love my bike and want to hold it in my arms, keep it safe, shiny and new as we sail off into the sunset, I up until now have remained blissfully ignorant of its inner workings.  Which cables go to where, how my overly-aggressive shifting and lackadaisical parking style are dinging parts and notches, and what the hell chain lube does are among the mysteries that would have changed my maintenance habits (or really created them).  They did not stand shrouded in mystery, their mastery just stood right outside my peripheral vision.  I knew Joey could teach me what I needed to know, I knew he could change my flats, help me replace my break pads, run new cables and all other things imaginable.  He has tried to teach me the finer points, I can go through the motions of changing a tire under close supervision and I can pump up my own tires so I guess that’s something.  But on the whole, I was oblivious to my part in the well-being of this constant companion who took me hither and tither and got me all kinds of hipster street cred.  My beautiful, bright orange, mid-1980s, Dutch racing frame was my pride and joy and still, I had no concept of how completely and utterly my 5 years of riding with minimal maintenance would cripple my trusty steed.  That is until I took it to the shop for a tune up and when all was said and done, this is what they gave back:

Available at a craigslist near you...
Tangerine Machine: Available at a craigslist near you…

They told me this was all that was worth saving.  So just like that I had no bike.  Coincidentally if any of you wild and crazy kids out there like what you see you can have the whole package for the one low low price of whatever you will pay for it!!!  What a steal folks, don’t wait on this one!

I jest but, here we stood.  After a week of taking the bus to work and debating about whether or not it was the right time to buy a car (jk we never thought we could afford that) I decided that I would buy a new bike.  Well, a new to me bike.  Portland has some good bike shops for refurbished, tank like commuter bikes.  Lots of steel and aluminum framed new friends in all the colors of the wind for your perusing pleasure.  I sidled on up to my current bike at a place called Back Pedal on SE Harold and oh boy is he a beaut:

Gresham is for Lovers
Gresham is for Lovers

I’ve been told its French but I’ve never heard of Gitane.  The reasons I chose this bike are as follows:

  1. It is big enough for me.  I classify as a “tall rider” according to craigslist ads for bikes that fit me.
  2. It’s purple, which is the color of royalty and wine.
  3. WHITE BAR TAPE SO FLY
  4. I can work the shifters
  5. The shifters work. Step up from the Tangerine Machine.
  6. The tires are big enough to hop curbs when bitches be crazy in the bike lane.
  7. It was there the day I went.

These are all the reasons I have.  I did not ask many questions.  I am happy with my purchase and would do it again.  I am all for researching a purchase but sometimes if you ride the bike and it feels like your bike then wouldn’t you rather have it than sleep on it and then forget to go back and never have the bike because you always wondered if there was something better out there?  In conclusion, buy the metaphorical bike y’all.

This new ride, dubbed “Purple Haze” by Libbie from my office and also Jimi Hendrix, has taught me a few things about bike mechanics.  Not very many and most of them, again, involve me struggling to pump up my tires.  But I did learn that when there is loud metallic screech in a certain point of the rotation of your crank, it means that there is strain somewhere there shouldn’t be and you should replace your bottom bracket….or something.  I also learned about warranties :).

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