True Dat

Corporate America, amirite? The nerve! Plenty of parking for those planet-destroying F-150s, but my exquisite lugged bicycle that literally makes flowers grow as I pedal it gets nothing at all! Well, last time I may have supplicated myself, but this time I boldly took a stand and walked right in with my Velocipede of Righteousness:

I then headed to the return counter, got a refund for an item I purchased over the weekend, and left promptly without purchasing any additional merchandise whatsoever:

See that, home improvement giant? Bikes are business! Maybe next time you’re designing a parking lot you’ll consider the measly nine dollars I gave you and then took back the very next day. I mean, just think of how many more items I’d have been able to return for a full refund if only there were adequate bicycle facilities!

Speaking of using tools, my recent wheel and derailleur upgrade has taken the Eye Of The Tiger Bike to a whole new level in terms of refinement. However, I’ve been ever-so-slightly troubled by a wobble in the front wheel, especially when compared to the back, which is almost preternaturally true:

Of all the parts that comprise a bicycle, it’s the wheel that is the most apt metaphor for life. In both cases, the key to a happy one is balance and symmetry; it can carry you anywhere, though in order to do so smoothly its component parts must be under equal tension. Also, there are nipples involved, and sometimes you’ve got to twist ’em in order to get what you want.

In my case, I’d been putting this off, because sometimes in attempting to even out the tension you instead exacerbate the condition, and the more you try to fix it the worse it seems to get. (This too is true both with wheels and with life.) However, at this particular moment, riding along the Hudson River with what I liked to imagine was a hint of spring in the air, I felt like I was in the proper setting to confront the problem and make things right. So I flipped the bike over in an act of obeisance to the universe:

I generally don’t believe in flipping bikes upside down to work on them, but this was different, because if things aren’t too far gone with the wheel the bicycle makes an ideal truing stand. Anyway, reverently, I kneeled before it:

Spoke wrench in hand, the prehistoric Palisades looming over the river’s western shore, I imagined some pre-colonial hunter may have tended to his bow in this very spot. Later, a Revolutionary War soldier may have cleaned and oiled his musket here, and still later a mason could easily have carved stone for the Old Croton Aqueduct upon which I was, at this very moment, kneeling. A wave of emotion washed over me as I felt the intertemporal kinship that all men do when they become one with the tools of their trade:

Jobst Brant or Sheldon Brown or the Park Tools website may tell you to twist the nipples this way or that in order to achieve a desired result. There’s science and physics involved, and maybe even a tension meter. In this case however I forgot all that as the breeze itself guided my hand and I caressed the wheel into a state of near-perfect lateral truidity. Then, in case there had been any inadvertent spoke wind-up, I removed the wheel and lay it down by its axle atop a piece of wood; I then rotated it and performed a series of chest compressions upon it to allow the spokes an opportunity to unwind themselves. Flipping the wheel over like a pancake or a chicken cutlet in a plate of breadcrumbs, I repeated the process.

Returning the wheel to the bike, I gave it a spin, and while nobody knows what obstacles may lay ahead to knock it out of whack again, or when I might encounter them, the wheel is, for the time being, in a taint-tingly reassuring state of equilibrium.

What more could you want?

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