After reading Faticus' comment on my previous post, dear Reader, you might think I have a problem. I have spent the last few months populating my stable and upgrading the steeds I already ride. I fail to see this as a problem, and though I may be in the throes of denial, I like to think that the depth of my quiver is a means of centering myself.
This is not to say that the act of owning or purchasing a bicycle somehow singularly fulfills me; I think I would find a similar outlet if I had a different passion. The outlet cycling provides stretches beyond riding.
You see, about the same time bicycle rides started to occupy a significant amount of my free time, singlespeed mountain bikes were becoming very in vogue. While I owned two geared mountain bikes at the time – an old rigid Iron Horse and a Haro, neither truly satisfied me.
I decided that the Iron Horse - which held substantial emotional capital as the first decent mountain bike I owned - would make a great singlespeed. This conversion would not only require some research, but would also require many of the single-purpose tools notorious in the world of bicycles. So as a poor college student, I did the unthinkable and went straight to a super-discount online retailer to purchase the super-discount (and of questionable quality) basic bicycle tool kit.
A month later, after stripping, sanding, masking, painting; lacing, tensioning, dishing, truing; matching, swapping, bolting, and screwing, I had a singlespeed mountain bike. But it was more – it was a machine that bled my blood and somehow shared my DNA. My sweat had forged the frame.
Not long after my project was complete I started working at a bike shop. This served two important purposes – bikes and parts at cost, and free training on bicycle tuning, repair, and maintenance. The $8 an hour under-the-table pay was peanuts compared to the knowledge I considered my true compensation. That, and it was a proud moment when I was deemed the best handlebar-taper in the shop’s employ.
To this day I love working on my bikes. The process is cathartic, and the satisfaction of a clean, well-tuned drivetrain runs deep. I continue to grow my skill set – this year it was gluing tubulars. I love the single-purpose tools, and I still find my center while listening to some music in the garage and wrapping fresh tape around my handlebars.
I’m not sure if the act of working on and riding bicycles forged my love affair with both activities, or if some inherent character trait led me those activites. But I’m not sure it matters.
By the way, cheap-ass N***bar tool kit may have been the best investment I have ever made. Less than 40 bucks and it’s still a trusted friend.