A Rusted Bolt

I am a freak about keeping my bicycle clean.

Doesn’t matter what bike, or what I just did with it or what I’m supposed to do with it. The first time I went mountain biking I cringed from the thought of the dust flying up and adhering to my down tube. The examination afterwards was an exercise in letting go. ‘There’s not much we can do about the fact that there isn’t a shower at the trailhead, now is there?’

My road bike is immaculate whenever I can afford it to be. I’ve had to let go of the fact that a chain will look dirty most of the time. That, or with the first sign of moisture, that chain’s as good as gone. A long and agonizing debate in my head over whether or not buying a new chain every week was worth the price of a shiny chain. The fact that I’m broke eventually settled the matter.

Over this winter, however, one article on my bicycle has been allowed to deteriorate. The bolt in the middle of the top cap has taken on a rather weathered look. It’s pretty well covered rust and all the variances that come along with it. It’s a reminder though. One which I feel is too important to remove from the bike. It’s rust comes not from outside weather shenanigans, but rather from sweat dripping down during my sessions on the trainer. As I’ve chewed away at my stem, agonizing over the last twenty or so seconds of an interval, I’ve watched that bolt turn from pristine silver to the rusted mess it is today. Every molecule transformed is due to my efforts and my suffering. Time turned into physical form. It’s really quite lovely.

And so as I spend my time picking over my bicycles with a fine toothed comb, I leave that bolt alone with a smile. It’s as close to a merit badge as I’ll probably get. Time to see where it’ll get me.


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