Life is full of complicated responsibilities, baffling exchanges, and difficult choices that have no satisfactory resolution. As adults, we learn to live with these vaguely unsatisfying tasks as part of the normal course of life. Often we compensate for those inconclusive moments by seeking fulfillment and gratification from other activities.
Routine bike maintenance provides the perfect opportunity to compensate for those less-satisfying times in life. There’s something mesmerizing about watching your chain come clean; something compelling about ridding the gears and pulleys of accumulated filth; and something fulfilling about tuning your derailleurs for the perfect shift. I know some people dread caring for their bikes, but I love the sense of accomplishment when I finally wash that grease off my hands and take my finished project for a test ride.
The silence of rolling on a well-maintained bike is profound, a sound you never hear in a gasoline-powered vehicle. The swift click of changing gears on a properly-tuned derailleur, the slight hum of slick tires on the pavement, the gentle whir of the chain – every ride, these noises speak of a job well done. I can almost hear my bike whispering “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” every time I ride after basic maintenance. That tangible positive payback provides me with a deep, daily satisfaction.
If you haven’t tried some basic maintenance, perhaps this is your chance to give it a whirl. In the Seattle area, The Bikery, Bike Works, Cascade Bicycle Club, and REI (among others) all offer bike maintenance classes of varying depths. In other parts of the state, Pedals2People, Capital Bicycling Club, and EverybodyBIKE offer maintenance classes. And, if worst comes to worst, a quick internet search for "bicycle maintenance classes" in your geographic location will bring up classes; many websites also offer detailed instructions on bike maintenance procedures. Remember, the worst thing is you have to take your bike to your local bike shop for emergency repairs.