Spring Fever

I sneaked (snuck?) out of work for a half hour today. Snuck/sneaked might not be the right word—I walked out the front door. And it was noon, so probably everyone thought I was grabbing lunch. Truthfully, I doubt anyone even noticed. But I rarely leave my building during the day. Every time I do, I feel like I’m cheating someone, stealing pay. The workday is for work… Another me-problem.

Today, I needed to get Eli’s bike into the shop. I broke it. Thirty years ago, I could adjust or replace every component on a bicycle. And I did, frequently, but then I stopped. And in those thirty years hence, everything changed. Now I look at even the simple things, brakes and the gears, and scratch my head. That’s no good. They need adjusting all the time. And it’s twenty dollars a pop to adjust them. I need to get more self-reliant.

I bought a book—Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance (Zinn is the author). This is how I learned to fix my bike all those years ago. I opened the book and walked through the steps. That was then. Because the bikes are more complicated now, the instructions are too. I can’t figure out what they’re telling me. I needed a different teaching tool. Eli’s problem is gears. His front and back derailleurs are out of whack. Fortunately, dozens of people have posted videos online showing me how to adjust these.

Anyone who has ever dug into a DIY fix-it problem like say, replacing the heating element in your dryer, already knows that the guy who does it in the video is a professional. What he does effortlessly in seven minutes is likely to take me a whole afternoon. Last night, Dave showed me how it all works. Watching his five-minute video twice gave me the confidence necessary to save twenty dollars and adjust Eli’s gears myself.

After dinking around for more than an hour, I revisited Dave’s video one more time. Then I loosened a bolt just like Dave showed me. But where everything sat placidly still on Dave’s bike, I released a spring-loaded doohickey and something snapped out of whack. I tried and tried, but I couldn’t coax it back where it belonged. Eli’s bike was hosed.

So I left work at lunchtime to drop off Eli’s bike. That’s when the spring fever hit me. Sunny, high-forties, snow melting as fast as Greenland’s glaciers, I formulated a plan. Today, I would leave work early and go for a bike ride. Oops, more guilt. I’ve been leaving work early and coming in late a lot this year. I’m still trying to figure out why I’m dizzy all the time, why I had that seizure. So far, I’ve learned I have no growths on my brain, no blockages in my arteries, no impingements in my neck, no concerning brain waves during the thirty minutes I was hooked up to an electroencephalogram. All good news, but lots of short workdays.

But today, c’mon. Sunny, high-forties? Who could blame me? I walked out of work at 3:45. Whoa! Lots changed in those four extra hours that I worked. The temperature dropped fifteen degrees, high winds picked up, the clouds rolled in. I’m pretty skeptical of “wind chill” and “real-feel temperature,” but sheesh. Winter returned. I rode anyway… with numb fingers and toes.

Now the weather forecast is predicting nine inches of snow starting tomorrow evening—I might as well sleep off my spring fever, I’m not going to exercise it. This has been a pretty rough winter. No unusually temperate days to thaw me out, snow on the ground for much of January and all of February, ice storms, snow storms, freezing rain. Spring, at least the equinox, is less than five weeks away. This winter, it just can’t come fast enough.  

Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash

25 thoughts on “Spring Fever

  1. Hey, at least you took advantage of a brief spring teaser, work guilt be damned! That might be enough to get you through the next winter storm, and the spring will be even closer.

    The thing about those DIY videos on YouTube? I find they only allow me to reach the point of admitting I need to call a real professional. That was true for my washing machine, the garage door, and now my well pump. I do the diagnostics with the help of the videos, which at least narrows the likely issues, but then admit defeat (often because of lack of proper tools), ultimately reaching out to neighbors for recommendations for a professional repair person. The level of technology in things now (e.g. my well motor communicates with the wall-mounted control in my garage, and apparently they’ve had a spat and stopped communicating) makes it almost impossible for the average Joe/Jane to do their own repairs.

    I’m sure Eli’s bike will be in good hands, money well spent.

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    • Bikes may be the last piece of machinery you don’t need to hook up for electronic evaluation. But the complexity has vastly grown. Back in the day, it was just a bunch of levers and gears. Now there are hydraulic parts that need an engineering degree to understand. Adds a whole level of complexity and cost to the sport. At lease I can still work on my fixed gear bike. I understand how that one works.

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    • YEs, the variability sucks, but when you pick up that random 70 degree day, wow. I once spent 2 weeks in Denver for work. On the weekend, I went mountain biking on Saturday and skiing on Sunday. It’s a pretty cool place for outdoorsy types.

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  2. I have a friend in Texas that has had sub-freezing temperatures and a foot of snow so far, since Monday and it supposed to last until the weekend. YIKES!! I mean and groan when the high is in the 50s and there’s frost on the car windshield in the morning.
    I can do minor repairs. When I started driving u could even change my oil or replace some parts. I look at my engine now and have to get the owners manual to check the fluid levels. These repair people have to know so much now. Not just doohickeys and thingamajigs, but computer stuff too with a lot of things. DIY is getting more difficult.

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    • As I was writing this, my brain kept going “at least you aren’t in Texas.” Seems funny to complain ab out thirty degree weather when people are freezing to death. But that the nature of weather. You get a taste of something nice and you want more, more, more. When I got my first car (1984) I went to the store and bought a bunch of quarts of oil. I crawled under my car to drain the old and I realized I needed a larger wrench than I had. So I took it to Jiffy Lube. They even used the oil I bought. My father pointed out that I would have still had a bunch of trouble disposing the oil. The world is stacked up against DIYers on a small scale. If you’re “in” great, but if you just want to tinker, probably not going to work.

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  3. YOU ARE MEEEEEEE!! with the youtube videos and such. Man, my bike shop history is long and storied and thank goodness for the gracious bike friends over the years who don’t mock me into oblivion. I’ve broken so many doohickeys. Sigh. But now I know what they’re called at least?
    Glad there’s been no ominous findings, and maybe it’s the universe telling you to cut out early more often and go for a bike ride 🙂
    Can’t wait for spring!

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    • The people in my shop are so well trained. Not a hint of sarcasm or disdain. Just “no problem, Jeff, pick it up after work.” Speaking of youtube, I’ve been wanting to go into the coming season more knowledgeable on the teaching aspects of the sport. I’ve been watching a bunch of Kyle and April videos (ever see these?) to think about how to describe the basics. I’m learning a lot about my own technique.

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      • Hm, I’ll have to check them out. For bike skills, I watch a lot of Phil Kmetz and Ryan Leech, but Ryan tries to get ppl to subscribe to a paid program. He breaks things down really really well though. There’s also a girl in Spain who breaks things down well, called Roxybike Mallorca, but her YouTube is a mishmash and not just coaching.

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      • I’ll look into them. Kyle and April are geared towards beginning riders which April is supposed to be. It’s amazing how well she learns the skills in just a couple of hours. It looks like she’s been riding for years by the end of the day.

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  4. YouTube videos have saved me so much money on repairs. But you are right – there is always a professional doing the repairs and making them seem SO easy. The last one that got me was the garbage disposal. The guy in the video made replacing one of those look easy peasy. Screwing the bad boy on was no joke, and thankfully my dad-like neighbor was there to help.
    Yesterday’s weather was brutal. Well, really nice morning/afternoon, but that wind last night. Sheesh. I felt bad as Catelyn has outdoor soccer practice twice a week from 6:30-8:15. Last night was a chiller. Felt bad for her.
    We have the same snow forecast. I was thankful that yesterday warmer morning temperatures melted a lot of what we had. There is a little bit more room now for all the impending snow.

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    • I, too, have struggled with screwing on a new garbage disposal. Blah. I’ve set some pretty ambitions goals for my expected level of fitness by spring so I’m sucking it up to the best of my ability (run tonight before the snow). But wow, it’s cold out. I can’t even imagine running around on an icy field playing soccer. Sophie said rugby started last night, but I assume it’s in a field house or a gym.

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  5. I live in the warmest pocket of TN, apparently, because while everyone else was freaking out last week about it getting into the teens we were in the 70s and I started planning my garden. It’s much colder here this week, but still no snow. I’m super ready for spring too.

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  6. Gosh I’m a huge fan of getting out when you’ve got the window and even more so when it’s during work. It’s funny, I never heard the word derailleur before and here it is both in your post and the next one in my feed, a poem with that word. I love French words. Was ruminating on “souvenir” today. And happy thoughts yours on the equinox just five weeks out or so. Will be a good collective gasp once this season turns over.

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  7. I’m with you, Jeff. Winter is my least favorite season. I know just the day you wrote this post. It gave me spring fever too. I don’t know about Adams County but here in Lancaster County, we just got about 2 or 3 inches of snow with some rain on top. The rain didn’t even freeze. Yet. I think by this time in other years, we would be seeing snow flowers and the snow geese would be honking at Middle Creek on the unfrozen lake. It seems much more winter-like than it has in years past. Come ON, April!

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    • Yes, this winter is getting pretty tiresome. I heard that it’s suppose to start warming up over the next week. Hopefully it just keeps going until it hits 70. When Eli and I went out to shovel, we had 2.75 inches. Pretty lame.

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