I was always a crap bike mechanic, but as a kid, I couldn’t resist trying to convert my big frame bike into a Sting Ray. Somehow I came into possession of a set of handlebars and put them on my bike.
Then I wheeled the bike up the bank at the end of our yard and rode hard to jump off the hill and “get some air.” Tragically, I had not tightened the handlebars enough. They went spinning down in front as I flew forward upon impact and wracked my nuts on the top bar. There I lay, collapsed in a heap in the yard, crying my head off.
No one came to help me. I lay there blubbering for a while. Soon enough the pain subsided. Looking around, I saw that no one had seen me and in my child’s mind it therefore never really happened. I would tell no one about the crash.
You might think I’d learned my lesson from that incident. But a couple days later I paid fifty cents to a friend to buy a smaller front wheel to put on my bike.
Excited now that my bike was starting to look like a real Sting Ray bicycle, I backed up into our neighbor’s yard and pedaled like a madman toward the bank to catch some more air.
One problem. I didn’t tighten the new front wheel well enough. It came flying off and I crashed all over again with the front fork digging into the dirt. That pitched me forward and I hit my nuts again. This time it hurt even worse. I lay there moaning for several minutes.
Yet again, no one had seen me. So I tightened the front wheel and cranked on the handlebar with a wrench to the best of my ability. This time, I tested the bike by steering it around the driveway first to test things out.
It goes to show that some lessons in life are best learned twice. After all these years of cycling, I still rather suck at changing the tubes in my tires. I once took a course in bike repair and maintenance and still don’t know remember how to adjust the brakes or tweak the derailleur. Recently I put a bike back together that I’d like to ride again, but don’t trust my wrenching on the thing. I’ll have a friend who excels at bike wrenching give it the once-over.
Let’s face it: people like me will never be good bike mechanics. We don’t all have the aptitude. The way I look at it, you can’t be good at everything. Local bike shops need the work. I’d rather trust them than wrack my nuts all over again.