Saturday, June 14, 2008

Right Out Straight

At the moment, the repair shop is the sole source of income for the bike shop. After a few early-season sales, no one's closing the deal on new bikes, although we've moved some used ones. A lot of people are digging out the trusty two-wheeler with vague notions that they will beat high gas prices somehow.

Bad news, guys. You do actually have to pedal these things.

In that vein, we did have a guy bring in his mid-1990s Haro for a tuneup prior to his own installation of an after-market helper motor of some kind "to help out on the hills." All well and good, except that all these electric bikes and assistance motors add so much weight that they virtually assure that the rider will never feel like pedaling that contraption. So thanks for the repair business, but why not skip the investment in the bike motor and go buy the Vespa you really want?

Because I have an automobile trip scheduled for my "weekend," I had to deal quickly with the Ford's most recent stuck brake caliper. It would jam so solidly that the wheel cover would almost be too hot to touch in just a few miles. I also looked at the odometer and got a sudden sinking thrill when I realized it had passed the magic number for the next timing belt failure. My trusty mechanic informed me that I would not have made it to Connecticut. Oh yeah, and have a new water pump while you're at it.

"I saw some stuff I'd like to do to the rear brakes next month when you come back for inspection, but I wanted to give you some time to recover from this one," he said. He's good that way.

Getting the car to the mechanic meant that I had to get up at 5-ish. I actually woke up around 4, with the early light, so I'd had about 5 hours sleep at best. I had to absorb some breakfast and try to get through the usual morning routines when my body still felt like half-melted lead and my brain was actually still dreaming.

I drove through Wolfe City to drop off things I didn't want to bother to carry back with me on the bike, like lunch and my work clothes. I tried to drive just faster than the speed of stink, but slowly enough to avoid heating things up too much. Fortunately, the morning was cool.

Once I dropped the car at the clinic I had to scamper 26 miles back to Wolfe City more or less in time for work.

Back at home, I had to come up with a cartoon that was already a day late. I'd spent Tuesday racking my brain over it to no avail, after devoting Monday to final preparation and submission of my five entries in the Union of Concerned Scientists' annual cartoon contest. The finalists are collected into a calendar, and the winning entry gets the cover. A panel of judges selects the finalists, which are then posted on the UCS website, where public voting selects the overall winner. I made the finals last year, so I was surprised to learn I could play again.

Somehow I was still awake at 11:30 at night, 19 hours after my first reluctant crawl to consciousness. In fact, it was hard to drop off for my next 5-6 hours of sleep before Thursday.

Thursday morning I had to finish inking the cartoon for Tuesday's deadline before sprinting to work. Every bike but my fixed gear needs some kind of work, although the Cross Check is functional. I just haven't had time.

Thursday evening I stopped at the grocery store on the way home for supper protein, which I threw on the grill once I got home.

Yesterday morning, it was up and out again after another inexplicably late night. The early light of pre-dawn does a good job shortening sleep on the other end of the night.

Meanwhile, the cellist is getting ready for her final studio recital. I really don't even have time to be writing this, because we'll have a house full of student musicians in a little over an hour. I'll have left for the shop by then, but have to sprint home to rehearse my own piece with the other token adult in the program.

Most of the kids are better than we are.

Tomorrow, after whatever might fall out of the dump truck of broken bikes at work, I get to drive to Connecticut among the receding flow of weekend visitors, and the first influx of Motorcycle Week. My ingenious wife had determined that it would actually be cheaper to take the bus from Dover to the train in Boston, but the trains aren't running this week because they're fixing the track. Shit! I'd really fallen in love with the idea of less driving, more relaxing, instead of doing battle with the motor maniacs of Massachusetts.

Coming out of the trip to southern New England I get slingshot into the following week. Hell, summer will be down the flush before I know it.

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