Saturday, 18 November 2006

With the bike healthy, other themes emerge

The bike is not, of course, really healthy. I did finally get it back and it seemed fine for almost a whole day. It wasn't. The axle nuts on the back wheel were not tight enough and the wheel shifted in the frame until it jammed against it. This is why i carry a set of spanners, but maybe there's no need. As I squatted beside the machine trying to puzzle out its latest tantrum - for it was not quite as obvious to me at first what was wrong as the summary above might imply - a passer by asked me if I had all the tools I needed, or should he go over to his house nearby and bring some back. I always expect people to be kind, but even by my standards this was remarkable. It cheered me up no end as I twiddled away with the axle nuts. It nearly took my mind off my pathological unwillingness to go next or near axle nuts. Tightening and loosening them is fraught with problems, because doing it wrong will overtighten the secondary nuts which hold the wheel bearing cones. And if you tighten them too much, the wheel bearings seize, the hub burns through and your front wheel will collapse unexpectedly as you're riding along Griffith Avenue one afternoon, and you will get covered in all kinds of bruises.

That was more than twenty years ago and I'm still brooding on it. They were big bruises. And at the time I didn't have the kind of money which allowed me to go ho-hum, a busted wheel, I must go round to the bike shop and get them to fix it. The trip to Charlie's on that occasion ate all the spare money I had for the month.

But for the moment at least the bike is behaving itself and my thoughts move to other things.

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