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.