This is the third installment of my monthly projects that were planned during my New Year’s resolution to “do things I used to enjoy.” My schedule has gone drastically off of the planned path. Things just don’t work out the as planned, but sometimes serendipity sneaks in and you get something that is better than the plan.
I only have a meager budget for these fun activities I’ve planned throughout the year. If something unexpected comes up, I have to make decisions and cut out the things that aren’t needed. During March, I really was planning on building my solar powered iPhone charger. I keep pushing it back on the schedule and I’m determined to get it done.
“Not this month,” my budget wryly interjected. My complaints fell on deaf ears because, of course, budgets don’t have ears and they are notoriously stubborn anyway. No, instead this month I got to do something I had not planned or even remembered.
Ryan got a new bike not long ago. It was a present. Not a new bike really, but new to him. His last bike was stolen a few years ago and he hadn’t really shown much interest in another. He had previously had trouble balancing and was getting frustrated. Maybe the first bike getting stolen was an ‘inside job’ for the insurance money? …. nah. He is only eleven, after all.
When he got the new bike, it wasn’t perfect. It had one flat tire and the chain was all rusted. I went through and adjusted everything and checked all of the bolts to make sure they were all the way tight. About half were too loose. It is surprising how many people do not tighten bolts! This isn’t rocket science here.
After pumping up the tire, we went out to try it out. Ryan took to it quickly and after a few tries he was sailing through the parking lot. It was so fun to see him excited and proud. He had just about given up after crashing several times a few years ago. He couldn’t steer much at first. Cars going by were at great risk. One even turned around and went the other way rather than wait on us to figure out this business of directional control.
So at this point, there is a bike and a happy boy riding it. Things look pretty smooth. Oh, but that would be too easy… Over the next few days we had quite a string of exciting things happen. The back tire went flat again. The seat was too low and the chain guard was missing. Well, this means that the blue jeans are bound by law to get caught in between there.
Next, the back tire started stretching and getting out of shape. This is a new one to me, but apparently when you live in a dry place your bike tires can do this. With full air pressure, the inner tube was about to squeeze out from under the tire. In addition, the brakes didn’t work right and a peculiar grinding could be heard from the crank.
Well in the eyes of two guys, this is the perfect opportunity to go to the store and look at tools while pretending we know just how to fix all this mess. Tools are just so shiny. And you can fix stuff with ’em! One of the best things in life to guys is this: something that can be fixed in one day and without talking about it much.
So before I knew it, I had dragged Ryan around to four stores and bought a tire, bearing greese, inner tube, chain oil, and quite a few snacks on the way. We went home and took apart the crank and back wheel, sprayed on some brake parts cleaner (smells good), and used the new wheel bearing grease (smells bad, but I like it) for the crank bearings.
All in all, it took a whole day and I think I spent more than it would have cost to buy a new bike at Walmart, but Ryan has a tough bike with perfectly tightened and oiled up parts. If you think the end of that last sentence sounded a little sexy, I have to agree. Maybe that is what is so attractive to guys about fixing things!
The more important thing is that we got to get dirty and fix stuff together. I haven’t worked on a bike much in so long. It’s different from fixing cars. Bikes are much more delicate and simple. I used to fix mine when I was about his age and now he is learning to do the same. It is fun to do things that get you remembering your childhood yet at the same time force you to see the future of your kids.
It was also nice to smell the grease and oil again. To have my hands so dirty that they didn’t get clean for three days. To see Ryan almost feint when I took all the parts off of his new bike. I don’t think he had much confidence that we would ever get it back together, but he does now. There is just something very powerful and basic about tools and fixing things. Probably dates back to our ancestors inventing some stone tools or some such thing. Sharing that time with my son was very fun and well worth putting off the phone charger.
- My First Bike (bikesandstuff.wordpress.com)
- Summer (gerryellenson.wordpress.com)
- Checking The Bike Before The Ride (canamohio.wordpress.com)
- Types and Parts of Bicycle (athingforcars.com)