Saturday, 26 May 2012

Kit and Caboodle - part 2: Jewellery is for wives, not bikes.

In which our cyclist spends an inordinate amount of time fiddling with his bits, because the bits are the best thing about being a cyclist.

One of the very first lessons I learned about cycling was when the cyclist bought his bike.  Except he didn't, because cyclists don't buy bikes.  They buy a frame, and wheels, and gears, and saddles and stems and bars and all the rest of it.  It's not a bike, it's a handpicked collection of parts; and so much greater than the sum of all the individual components as it contains the indefinable ingredient of you.  My cyclist revels in the fact his bike is unique to him.

And the best bit about it? The individual components can be changed whenever time and finances allow.  Recently, a new headset was added.  A proud picture was subsequently posted on twitter, however following the tiniest touch of criticism our cyclist decamped to the back yard in an arse with a hacksaw for 2 hours worth of swearing to 'slam the shit' out of it.  And the new headset was the latest in a series of component changes.  Like the tale of the broom that has had 5 new handles and 3 new heads over it's lifetime, the bike evolves.  And the components are getting blingier; a new chain (gold), pretty pedals, a nokon cable set - the cyclist has been buying his bike jewellery.  A lovely friend of mine pointed out that jewellery was meant for wives, not bikes.  The cyclist disagrees.

The purchasing of new components is however a long and tiresome process.  Firstly, once the cyclist has it in his head that a component change is on the cards, there's the research phase.  This involves many hours of contemplation, comparison, visits to websites and forums, cross-referencing of magazines and blogs, and minute examination of group test articles with allowances made for tester bias and results accepted or rejected based on whether or not the cyclist deems them 'bollocks'.  He hasn't made a colour-coded wall chart yet, but I expect he would.

Phase 2 is of course, attempting to find said component at the best possible price.  We're back to comparison and web surfing here.  A sticky moment can come if you wish to actually eyeball said component prior to the actual commitment of purchase.  Obviously, the best prices are usually obtained from online retailers who work out of a warehouse because, overheads.  However, this can mean finding the item in question in real life to have a little dribble over is tricky.  There have been a couple of sundays written off to the fruitless trawl of bike shops within a 20 mile radius trying to find an example of an X in the glass cabinet near the cash desk where the good shit is.  This phase also includes the fairly complex maths of P+P and stock levels.  Availability of a product is always key - as once the cyclist has his mind set on a component, he absolutely cannot race until it has been added to the bike.  If he can't get his sticky paws on it immediately we will be subjected to a sulk until said item has arrived.

So, the bike is bitching.  Admiring glances are cast its way at races.  She is your absolute pride and joy.  So you must look after her.

The cyclist loves cleaning his bike.  Loves it.  He doesn't like cleaning anything else, but cleaning the bike is part maintenance, part catharsis.  There is a special stand (I have stubbed my bloody toe on it so many times), and nothing in the house can have a greater purpose than serving the cleansing of the bike.  All cloths, sponges, tea towels, bath towels and clothing left lying around are fair game when it comes to bike cleaning.  Also lost to the general cause of bike maintenance have been a NARS make up brush, 3 pastry brushes and once, memorably, my toothbrush (I had a spare, but that's not the point).

The cyclist has also taken to fashioning rudimentary tools in the pursuit of bike maintenance excellence, like a chimpanzee trying to reach a particularly succulent but troublesomely well-hidden grub.  Exhibit A, the attachment he has created for the soldering iron from a filed-down teaspoon to remove old tub glue from his rims.

Some of the cyclist's bike tools.  You might like to note that in the best traditions his set of Allen Keys has someone else's name on. 

So the bike is clean.  And the house is filled with the aerosol whiff of GT85, because the bike lives in the front room.  But that's another story...

1 comment:

  1. I swear you took those pictures in my garage! That exact same chain adorns my cyclist's bike too. (I had to show him your picture and ask 'Is that your chain?', the reply 'Yes, why?' (hysterical laughter from me.....) 'Never mind......')