Monday, April 30, 2007

Misadventures in mechanical ineptitude

Everything I touch breaks.

It's not my fault, i swear. I'm not doing anything wrong. It's just that everthing is shit and falls apart under my gaze.

Take my bike. Please.

I bought it a year and half ago, and didn't really start using it until just over a year ago. In that time i've

  • replaced the crank arms (16 pounds plus labor)
  • replaced the ball bearings (25 pounds)
  • replaced the brake shoes (10 pounds plus the Pirate's labor)
  • repaired no less than 5 punctures to the rear tire (2 pounds for the puncture repair kit, several hours of annoyance)
  • jury-rigged the rack, which broke
  • gotten grease up the sides of my right leg every time i ride it because the chain guard broke and connot be replaced
So saturday I'm cycling to the Pirate's for the night. Due to the Varsity Boat Race running an hour overtime, I got a late start. I set out and noticed my rear tire was low. I I decided to go and see how far I could get. I got 40 minutes before it went flat, decided it pump it up and keep going. 5 minutes later it was completely flat again. Time to stop and fix it.

I had also noticed that when I set out I was having to use a much lower gear than normal, and I was really huffing it. I attributed this to my being really out of shape and got annoyed with myself.

After I fixed the TWO punctures in the tire (I've gotten good at this), I attempted to re-connect the rear brake. It was really hard to squeeze together. When I finally got it in place I spun the wheel. It stopped instantly. It was pressing quite hard agains the brake. Well, I thought. That explains why it's been such hard-going. My brakes are out of alignement and I've been effectively riding with the brake on the whole way. So I disconnected the rear brake and decided to carry on with one brake.

I gave the wheel another spin. It wobbled. I spun it again and watched it very carefully. It was definately wobbling. The wheel itself was warped.

At this point it's getting late (almost 8 in the evening), I'm tired (more on that later), my back hurts, I have a bicyle with a warped wheel and one functioning brake. I call the Pirate. "Come pick me up."

He did, very cheerfully. And he brought me a banana to eat while he loaded my bike in the trunk. What a doll.

We got home and I showed him the rear wheel. "No problem," he says. "All we need to do is adjust the tension on a few of the spokes to pull the wheel back into rights."

That was when he discovered that three of the spokes on my wheel were broken, which is why it was warped.

"Your wheel is fucked."

"I can see that."

"You can't ride your bike."


The problem here is that I needed the bike the following morning, early, to get to the boathouse because I coach a team of novices. The Pirate couldn't drive me because he had to leave for Oxford for a cricket match. The only alternative was for me to take the Pirate's bike.

I love the Pirate's bike. It's one of those goofy, Dutch-style jobs. All it's missing is a wicker basket and yorkshire terrier. Actually, the "sit up and beg" posture is quite comfortable for my back.

So Sunday morning I took the P's bike, leaving him with my beat up piece of shit which he now has to load in the car and bring to me in Brizzle at some point, and set off for the boat house.

My novices are adorable, they really are, but we've been plagued by problems all year, the most annoying of which is the unreliablility of my launch boat. It doesn't start, and if it does start, it stalls whenever you idle it. And it's a bitch to get re-started on the water, especially given how fragile my back is.

So we got through half our outing when the motor died on me and i had to paddle myself back into the dock, where I threw up my hands in despair. Grrr.


Oh, you're going to LOVE this.

For the past 6 months Pirate has been bragging about his wonderful bike with his amazing reinforced tires and how he never gets a flat or a puncture. Just keep that in the back of your head, ok?

So my girls have left, I'm the last one at the boat house, I get everything put away and locked up. I unlock the bike and look down and...

lo and behold! a flat tire! (the rear one, natch.)


Don't ever let me hug you. Everything I touch breaks. Don't even get me started on my printer.


First Nations said...

this is what is known as the 'Carrie' effect. congratulations! you are destructively telekinetic. avoid all future high school proms or at least bring an umbrella.
i have the same effect on office equipment.

hendrix said...

I'm fine around bikes (probably because I am never around bikes) but I kill computers....I don't mean to, I don't want to, but put me in the same room as a computer and you can guarantee that it will die.

As examples of my murderous intent I cite the red wine over the laptop incident and then the red wine over the laptop which the insurance company had sent through a couple of days earlier to replace the laptop which had had red wine spilt over it (and you just try explaining that to the Insurance Company), the malteser down the side of the shift key incident and my particular glory - deleting Finder (Don't even ask how you can delete Finder, I still maintain I was opening up the word processing programme).
What you need to do is to embrace your destructive side, glory in it, charge people protection money (and possibly get hired as a cycle saboteur).