A Casual Focus

A casual focus commands the right attention.

I’m not good enough (really) to work on other’s bikes. This is not to say that I can’t adjust some tension, or turn a screw or two, but that I’d rather leave that to a more deft hand than I possess. That said, on my own bicycles, I feel qualified enough. Enough so that when the repair is over, I’m not constantly worried that my down tube is going to shear in half just due to my stupidity.

Riding a bicycle and working on a bicycle are both freeing acts, and largely in the same way. Focus is required, but it’s a more casual focus. The worries, cares and edges of the Day are laid aside and the bicycle and it’s simple grace are all that command your vision. Part by part you disassemble, and then reassemble – looking for the odd, the out-of-place and setting it right. The physical acts of riding and repairing helping you to escape your perspective and find a new one.

Just like riding a bicycle, there will be heart rending moments. Have you ever lost that incredibly tiny shifter spring at eleven PM? As much as I love QBP, they’re not sending me a box that late to get me home. Or how about turning that screw just a bit tight. You heard those tiny threads strip to hell, and no amount of ‘Oh, please, just work for me baby’ is going to make that right. Time to break out that tap, get a new bolt, find that torque wrench that you were too lazy to get the first time and get ready for your ten minute repair to take a full three hours. Better crack open another beer, you’re not making it to the bar.

But above all, that final wrap of the bar tape. That final turn of that 4mm. That chunk of the quick release axle slotting into that rear dropout; that makes it all worthwhile. I can understand why bicycle mechanics are often the most avid of cyclists. I can also understand how some go down into that rabbit hole fully and take up a torch to begin to fabricate their own from the most basic of forms. And as long as I ride, I’ll break my bikes and I’ll repair them.

If you don’t work on your own stuff, I’d strongly recommend taking up a Park Tool three-way (4, 5 & 6) and figuring it out.

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1 comment
  1. Nice post…. Thom Smith 414 Lexington Parkway N Apt. #2 Saint Paul, MN 55104

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