Dream Job

I love working on my bikes. I feel closer to them, like a samurai sharpening their blade or a soldier cleaning their pistol; this simple act of preparation prepares us for the suffering that is to come, with the notable distinction that a Cyclist chooses this suffering with no tangible consequence while the warrior faces probably death. Apart from this minor detail, the analogy feels complete.

The cathartic beauty of working on a bicycle was taught to me many years ago, by a Dutch bike shop owner named Herman in Zevenaar, the Netherlands. He had been the team mechanic for Helvetia la Suisse, a good but not extraordinary team in the late eighties. His tools were a work of art; they didn’t match, they were all different brands; some of them weren’t even real “tools”, he just made them himself, purpose built for a specific function.

His truing stand was a homemade affair constructed of metal bits to hold the wheel and a rudimentary mechanism which might have come off a medieval torture device, repurposed in this particular case to check the trueness of the wheel. There was also a micrometer attached to said thumbscrew-turned-truing stand which was so finely adjusted that should the meter not be spinning in circles, the wheel was already well within true. He never stopped trueing until the needle stopped moving.

While my dad taught me the mechanics of caring for and servicing a bicycle, Herman taught me to love doing that work. His master lesson was in the care that goes into wrapping the bars. My dad had bought a Merckx from him, and (correctly) insisted on Scott Drop-Ins as the handlebars. The challenge with those bars was that they were a bit longer than regular drop bars, and so a roll of bar tape didn’t make it all the way up. Herman, unable to tolerate the lump at the juncture of the two rolls of bar tape, meticulously spliced the two rolls together so the point of intersection was indistinguishable.

This was a crucial moment in my development as a Velominatus: bar tape should always maintain these three essential properties: be white, be clean, be perfect.

Only one of my bikes has white bar tape, and that’s Number One. But Number One always has white bar tape, never black. And all of my bikes, irrespective of its level, always has clean, perfect tape.

I have a hard time leaving the house on a dirty bike. I always wipe the chain down, and wiping the chain down usually leads to wiping the rest of the frame and the wheels down prior to departure. One simply feels better setting out on a spotless bike. This is common sense, I know.

Not to mention the pride one has in pushing the gear levers and feeling the crisp, perfect shifts escape into the drivetrain. A clean bike has loads of perfect shifts stored up, just waiting to be released; a dirty bike has nothing but mis-shifts waiting to disappoint you. A well-tuned bicycle is also a quiet bicycle, and while I always prefer to announce my arrival to anyone I might be overtaking, I do take a small degree of enjoyment in their startled surprise which belies the fact that my bicycle moves as silently as a ninja in the night, were it not for the heaving pilot.

It feels to me like a perfect job is to be a Pro Tour bike mechanic, apart from the fact that I know it’s a thankless, difficult, and demanding job. When you’re not wrenching into the wee hours of the night, you’re sitting in the team car with your head bobbling about out the passenger window and a frisky freewheel tickling your sphincter. But on the plus side, it’s the only vocation in Cycling that encourages heavy drinking and smoking combined with the liberal use of white spirits (diesel fuel).

If you can’t make it as a world class Cyclist, then hopefully you can at least make it as a death-defying alcoholic.

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87 Replies to “Dream Job”

  1. Agreed! Nothing quite like the feeling of a perfectly tunes ride. I often find I can enjoy tinkering with my bikes almost as much as riding them.

    Another great article Frank, thanks for keeping us informed and entertained as usual.

  2. The quest for a perfect bar tape wrap… I suppose do or not, there is no try but dang, I’ve been wrapping more than a few times and have yet to get it just exactly perfect. It drives me crazy that I’ve yet to perfect a bar wrap. I’ve replaced good bar tape in an attempt to get a mo’ better wrap.

    A silent ninja bike in the night? Belt drive. No joke. My neighborhood fun bike is a single speed belt drive ninja w/flat pedals and bars that’s a flat out blast on summer nights. And as silent as… the night. I used to love chasing my hound thru the neighborhood at night on that bike but then the dog tore its ACL on a run. Seriously. Dogs apparently can have ACL injuries. Who’d have thunk it?

    Cigarettes and diesel. Cool pic.

  3. Haha, I love it! “A frisky freewheel tickling my sphincter” totally sums up my time in a convoy! And I’m totally with you on the clean bike is a happy bike ethos. Nice work.

     

    And just for you, here’s the great Gilles Delion outsprinting teammate (and later Olympic Champion) Pascal Richard in the 1990 Criterium International (with Charly Mottet and Bob Millar leading in eventual winner Laurent Fignon).

     

    You’re welcome.

  4. Yes it’s my dream job, just have to win the lottery and that’s what I’ll do….. Based on my appetite for new bikes and the matching sofas/furniture/vacation for the VMH it takes to get these, it’ll have to be an el gordo win….

  5. One of the SRAM mechanics liked to tell us a story of how Jens Voigt would sneak over to them at races to get “more oil” on his chain, since his mechanics liked it dry and he preferred a slobbery chain.

  6. I love working on my bikes. I feel closer to them, like a samurai sharpening their blade or a soldier cleaning their pistol; this simple act of preparation prepares us for the suffering that is to come

    I would say there is a feeling of…not accomplishment, that’s not the right word…more of a feeling of completeness when ones bike is fully clean.  Fully clean like, cleaning your jockey pulley with a q-tip and making sure there isn’t a single grain of sand or the tiniest smudge of road grime left after a hard day in the saddle.  Where anything that would cause the slightest of grind between chain and sprocket means the process must be repeated, however small the nuisance is, it may as well be nails on a chalkboard.

    @frank     As someone who has spent an absolute stupid amount of hours cleaning and detailing a rifle so it wouldn’t fail me when i needed it most, i can without-a-doubt say that your analogy is complete.  When cleaning my bike i’m in the exact same mindset, the same perfection is sought after…no the stakes may not be the same, but the bike is the same type of extension of the body. Where when used properly, man and machine are blended into one thing, a cyclist.

  7. Nice one! All of my bikes are treated to frame polishing and a drivetrain cleaning constantly. Even my lowly SS commuter is never allowed to hold the grime of a rain ride for much time at all. I don’t even think about it, I just clean them. Probably doesn’t hurt that my house is one story and my bike room is just off the main bathroom. Seeing a dirty bike is a real pisser.

    wilburrox – As much as I love perfect bar tape, I’ve recently realized that overthinking the wrap job leads to headaches. Be true and steady, be meticulous, but don’t overthink it. This will lead to too much stress during the wrapping. I’m not saying we shouldn’t strive for perfection, just that you must relax when doing it. Kinda like not death-gripping the bars on rough stuff.

    Oh, and I’ve recently engaged in the joys of toothbrush cleaning my cassettes. I used to go for the floss with a rag or a brush. Lately I’ve been pulling the wheel and scrubbing fully clean with a toothbrush.

    The taste during tooth brushing is not that great, but it’s worth the glimmering cogs.

  8. Spending countless hours cleaning your own bike is one thing … a labor of love. And you have the luxury being an absolute perfectionist and doing it on your time and your schedule. But being a shop/team mechanic cleaning and maintaining a fleet of bikes … hard work and not quite as much fun. You’re on a clock to get it done. Been there, done that. It’s still fun, but not what I’d call a dream job.

  9. @Oli

    Er, that is to say *here* is Gilles Delion…

    That has to be one of the cleanest top 5 results in modern times! Mottet and Delion were staunch anti-dopers, Millar was a vegetarian and Le Professeur was clean too. Richard, not sure, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

    This article has made me feel a bit guilty. #4 is a wee bit dirty from Sundays ride. Not filthy,  just needs a wipe down. Trouble is, it’s in the mid to low 20s in my garage. Oh well, Rule % with the apron on I guess. I’ll have to go down anyway, I’m doing a 25kms fat tire ride on Lake Winnebago on Saturday. Expected temp is in the low teens.I know the bike is running fine but I just need to make sure.

  10. @chuckp

    Spending countless hours cleaning your own bike is one thing … a labor of love. And you have the luxury being an absolute perfectionist and doing it on your time and your schedule. But being a shop/team mechanic cleaning and maintaining a fleet of bikes … hard work and not quite as much fun. You’re on a clock to get it done. Been there, done that. It’s still fun, but not what I’d call a dream job.

    Every time I think, “Wouldn’t it be fun to work on bikes all day?” I just head to the shop and see what they have to deal with. Last week they had a pretty decent Specialized road bike in the stand. Thing looked as if it had been sand-blasted with road grit. Apparently the guy loves to ride and his approach is to ride hard for months at a time, zero cleaning. Then he brings the bike in for a full overhaul. Mechanic told me they’ve told him he’d save tons of money by doing some minimal upkeep, but dude never does. What a bad way to go through life riding your bike.

    I’ll keep my day job and spend my nights moonlighting as my own private mechanic.

  11. @wiscot

    @Oli

    Er, that is to say *here* is Gilles Delion…

    That has to be one of the cleanest top 5 results in modern times! Mottet and Delion were staunch anti-dopers, Millar was a vegetarian and Le Professeur was clean too. Richard, not sure, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

    This article has made me feel a bit guilty. #4 is a wee bit dirty from Sundays ride. Not filthy, just needs a wipe down. Trouble is, it’s in the mid to low 20s in my garage. Oh well, Rule % with the apron on I guess. I’ll have to go down anyway, I’m doing a 25kms fat tire ride on Lake Winnebago on Saturday. Expected temp is in the low teens.I know the bike is running fine but I just need to make sure.

    I just loved Gilles!!!  He was one of my most favorite riders.  Talk about looking just FANTASTIC on a bike.  That guy was more gorgeous than Big Mig.  So, so sad that he hit it big when he did.  Nothing but respect for him and his anti-doping views.  Gilles deserves an AOP write-up, no?

    But @wiscot:  Le Professeur clean???  Now I love my Professeur as much as anyone and I suppose, relatively speaking, he can be considered “clean” by today’s standards but I seem to remember that he said it was just too much trouble and not worth the risk for EPO at that point in his career but he had some CRAZY stories of snorting coke for racing and I think that he might have dabbled in the steroids as well.

    And how’s this for stealing a thread but FUCKING Katusha escape with no ban.  Fuck me and the sport that I love!!!  Just FUCK!!!

  12. @Ron

    Every time I think, “Wouldn’t it be fun to work on bikes all day?” I just head to the shop and see what they have to deal with. Last week they had a pretty decent Specialized road bike in the stand. Thing looked as if it had been sand-blasted with road grit. Apparently the guy loves to ride and his approach is to ride hard for months at a time, zero cleaning. Then he brings the bike in for a full overhaul. Mechanic told me they’ve told him he’d save tons of money by doing some minimal upkeep, but dude never does. What a bad way to go through life riding your bike.

    I’ll keep my day job and spend my nights moonlighting as my own private mechanic.

     

     

    Yes.  This.  My VMH often thinks how romantic it would be to start a farm and live off the land.  I was raised on a dairy farm and I can tell you that it ain’t romantic AT ALL.  Milking goddamn cows every morning at 0430 and every night at 0430, 365 days a year, rain/snow/100 degrees, whatever the weather gets REALLY old REALLY fast.

    I imagine wrenching must be similar.

    There is a huge difference between doing what you love b/c you love it and doing what you love whether you love it or not because you actually have to eat that day.

  13. True, like unique, has no comparative or superlative form. For some, there is no such thing as true enough. A wheel is true or it ain’t. When the needle stops moving, the wheel is true. Those lacking this understanding should not true wheels.

  14. I do enjoy keeping my bike clean and in good working order. Sometimes this means getting the tools out, sometimes this means taking it to a mechanic. I think accepting you’re not very good at something is nothing to be ashamed of.

    I need to tighten the bearings in my rear wheel and it’s filling me with a certain amount of dread in case if fuck it up. But my bike is lovely and clean and the chain never makes a squeak!

  15. I would say this is a continuation of the “Body Language” post from a few days ago, but then I’m reminded of Rule #4 and realize that, as expected, the author forgot his own damn rules and published the wrong article first.

    An aspiring cyclist once said “To be clean is to be fast.” While that aspiring cyclist hasn’t accomplished anything in his life of note (I’m still working on it, bug off), I think the underlying message still rings true. My bicycle is cleaned top to bottom twice weekly. While I’d like to do it more, this damn thing called life usually happens and I can’t devote the hour or so I like to spend partaking in such a task more than twice a week. If you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all.

  16. Toothbrush rules !

    Btw: any one uses the very expensive “clean your bike” products?

    I find plain petrol cheap and effective……..

  17. @frank, I often remind fellow riders of the safety benefits of regularly cleaning one’s bike since cleaning results in inspection.  Even a quick wipe down can mean the difference between catching a frame or rim crack before heading out or finding out the hard way. Catastrophic failures are most likely to happen during aggressive maneuvers – high speed corners, bunny-hopping tracks, emergency braking – the worst time for a cable, rim, spoke or frame break.

  18. Bravely articulated as usual, Frank. Recently I’ve been paying more attention to my workspace. We have a modest little outbuilding that we’re slowly getting properly organized. Solid workbench, better lighting, space heater, bookshelf music system. I considered a small fridge but rejected the idea since it would be fatal to my ability to climb which is already on life support figuratively speaking.

  19. When I don’t ride my bike for a couple of days I begin to feel as though something isn’t right; with me.  It’s not obvious but more of an under the surface feeling of being unwell.  I might become short tempered with my family or co-workers.  You might find me pacing about from one task to another pissed off with all of it…till I realize what it is that is ailing me.

    “Go and ride a bike shithead”!

    Having a dirty bike in the house doesn’t hit me as strong as the above but there is a similar, if more subdued feeling of unwellness that floats along with me till the situation can be identified and remedied.

    I rode on Sunday and haven’t been able to tend to the bike….yet.

  20. @hudson

    I love working on my bikes. I feel closer to them, like a samurai sharpening their blade or a soldier cleaning their pistol; this simple act of preparation prepares us for the suffering that is to come

    I would say there is a feeling of…not accomplishment, that’s not the right word…more of a feeling of completeness when ones bike is fully clean. Fully clean like, cleaning your jockey pulley with a q-tip and making sure there isn’t a single grain of sand or the tiniest smudge of road grime left after a hard day in the saddle. Where anything that would cause the slightest of grind between chain and sprocket means the process must be repeated, however small the nuisance is, it may as well be nails on a chalkboard.

    @frank As someone who has spent an absolute stupid amount of hours cleaning and detailing a rifle so it wouldn’t fail me when i needed it most, i can without-a-doubt say that your analogy is complete. When cleaning my bike i’m in the exact same mindset, the same perfection is sought after…no the stakes may not be the same, but the bike is the same type of extension of the body. Where when used properly, man and machine are blended into one thing, a cyclist.

    Very well put.  If you view the maintenance aspect of such objects as just another part of using them, you know it is something you enjoy with a passion.

    As @hudson stated, a feeling of completeness is to be had with perfectly clean and functioning mechanical objects, whether it is a perfectly shifting, silent bike, or a perfectly functioning and smooth operating precision firearm.  It just feels right, and complete that when you finish putting in work with them, you then put in the work to keep them pristine.

    Once you are finished with both, you can sit back and feel right about the world (or at least your world, for those moments after).

  21. I worked part-time during a few summers as a bike mechanic.  There is a substantial difference in actually being able to wrench on a bike and just keeping a bike clean or replacing bar tape.  Working on a bike today is much less difficult than in the late 80s and early 90s when I still had to hone or cut bearing races, re-true forks, frames, hangers, etc.  Today, it is basically push and play.

    Bike mechanics in the pro ranks wrench and rag a whole squadron of bikes daily.  It is fast paced and there are no shortcuts (just like a pre-flight inspection).  One of the fellow mechanics I worked with spent some time with a continental team.  According to his stories, and there were a good many, his work days started before sun-up and ended just before sun-up.   He would eat, shower, and rest during the race.  He said he would actually pray before each race that no one on his team would crash.  Not only because he feared injury to the rider, but because a crash often meant a rebuild and a very late night.

    Personally, I loved the wrenching aspect of the job, but the cleaning is no fun when it isn’t your bike.  I actually debated telling a few customers that they did not deserve the bike they were riding because of how poorly they maintained it.

  22. @RobSandy

    I do enjoy keeping my bike clean and in good working order. Sometimes this means getting the tools out, sometimes this means taking it to a mechanic. I think accepting you’re not very good at something is nothing to be ashamed of.

    I need to tighten the bearings in my rear wheel and it’s filling me with a certain amount of dread in case if fuck it up. But my bike is lovely and clean and the chain never makes a squeak!

    I do too, but just as important is knowing when to wrench and when not to wrench. This means truing wheels and installing BB cups are left to professionals in my case.

  23. @Buck Rogers

    @Ron

    Every time I think, “Wouldn’t it be fun to work on bikes all day?” I just head to the shop and see what they have to deal with. Last week they had a pretty decent Specialized road bike in the stand. Thing looked as if it had been sand-blasted with road grit. Apparently the guy loves to ride and his approach is to ride hard for months at a time, zero cleaning. Then he brings the bike in for a full overhaul. Mechanic told me they’ve told him he’d save tons of money by doing some minimal upkeep, but dude never does. What a bad way to go through life riding your bike.

    I’ll keep my day job and spend my nights moonlighting as my own private mechanic.

    Yes. This. My VMH often thinks how romantic it would be to start a farm and live off the land. I was raised on a dairy farm and I can tell you that it ain’t romantic AT ALL. Milking goddamn cows every morning at 0430 and every night at 0430, 365 days a year, rain/snow/100 degrees, whatever the weather gets REALLY old REALLY fast.

    I imagine wrenching must be similar.

    There is a huge difference between doing what you love b/c you love it and doing what you love whether you love it or not because you actually have to eat that day.

    I often wonder what porn stars do in their spare time? a little bit of filing, run something up on a lathe?

  24. @Oli

    Man, you got the year right, but this was the Tour of Lombardy, not the criterium international… Check out the Gazzetta dello Sport logo painted on the road. Richard was reportedly furious at the end of the race… Delion was supposed to lead him out for that sprint! Loved Gilles Delion (we were born in the same area) but the truth is, if some pros didn’t like him, that wasn’t only a question of him being strongly against the juice…

  25. @wiscot

    @MangoDave

    This reminds me that I love the opening scene in A Sunday from Hell. There’s beauty in the skilled efficiency of the pro mechanic. I enjoy working on my bikes, but I’m stupid slow.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ktTXjSqvJc

    I see you A Sunday in Hell and raise you a Stars and Watercarriers at 31:20. Sublime!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUIr9LG1juw&list=PLeIvTjdPDVyGR-PPfJXC15mRceYOhBMCm

    That whole scene is pure poetry. It has a rather beguiling cadence. I could listen to it over and over again. Watching it is even more sublime.

    I love working on my bikes, most especially the end of winter strip down, re-cabling and application of fresh new bar tape. There’s a zen like calmness to be found in that. It can’t be far off, the current bar tape is beginning to look a bit worn and the coating on the exposed rear shift inner is beginning to look past its best. It’ll almost be a shame to switch to the new #1 after that (That’ll get the same treatment in September or October.)

     

  26. @wiscot

    @RobSandy

    I do enjoy keeping my bike clean and in good working order. Sometimes this means getting the tools out, sometimes this means taking it to a mechanic. I think accepting you’re not very good at something is nothing to be ashamed of.

    I need to tighten the bearings in my rear wheel and it’s filling me with a certain amount of dread in case if fuck it up. But my bike is lovely and clean and the chain never makes a squeak!

    I do too, but just as important is knowing when to wrench and when not to wrench. This means truing wheels and installing BB cups are left to professionals in my case.

    After writing this I stripped my rear hub down, to the extent of removing the pawls from the freehub, cleaning it all out and then re-greasing and reassembling the whole thing, removing the small amount of play from my rear wheel in the process.

    It’s exactly the sort of job I’d have previously fucked up, so I feel mighty for taking it on.

    A typically timely article which encouraged me to go for it. Cheers Frank.

  27. @MangoDave

    @wiscot

    I call your raise. Looking forward to watching the whole thing, I’ve never actually seen it.

    Set aside the full time. ASiH is great, but S&W is just incredible. The narration verges, at times, into pure poetry.

  28. @wiscot

    @MangoDave

    @wiscot

    I call your raise. Looking forward to watching the whole thing, I’ve never actually seen it.

    Set aside the full time. ASiH is great, but S&W is just incredible. The narration verges, at times, into pure poetry.

    Agreed.  Actually I watch both of them at least once a year.  Great winter viewing while on the rollers.

  29. @DeKerr

    Let’s not forget the finishing touch.

    And if anyone has some tips on cleaning skinwalls please, PLEASE, let in on the secret.

    Not sure how it goes with gumwalls, but my tyre cleaning technique is as follows.

    Get a reasonably sturdy cloth or rag

    Dump it in some hot water & detergent

    Lay the rag over your open palm & then wrap your hand over the wheel pinching your thumb & forefinger either on the brake tracks (if you also want to clean them) or the sidewall of the tyre.

    Rotate the wheel through a few revolutions & you should be golden.

    If you’re doing this each time you clean the bike, then they shouldn’t ever get so dirty that you can’t get something off.

  30. @Ron

    @chuckp

    Spending countless hours cleaning your own bike is one thing … a labor of love. And you have the luxury being an absolute perfectionist and doing it on your time and your schedule. But being a shop/team mechanic cleaning and maintaining a fleet of bikes … hard work and not quite as much fun. You’re on a clock to get it done. Been there, done that. It’s still fun, but not what I’d call a dream job.

    Every time I think, “Wouldn’t it be fun to work on bikes all day?” I just head to the shop and see what they have to deal with. Last week they had a pretty decent Specialized road bike in the stand. Thing looked as if it had been sand-blasted with road grit. Apparently the guy loves to ride and his approach is to ride hard for months at a time, zero cleaning. Then he brings the bike in for a full overhaul. Mechanic told me they’ve told him he’d save tons of money by doing some minimal upkeep, but dude never does. What a bad way to go through life riding your bike.

    I’ll keep my day job and spend my nights moonlighting as my own private mechanic.

    This is the difference between wrenching on your own bike and doing it for a living (outside of being a pro team mechanic). The vast majority of people who bring bikes into a shop to have a mechanic work on them don’t take care of their bikes and don’t know the first thing about even simple maintenance. What we take for granted, they are completely clueless about. And they have no idea what’s involved to “fix” their bike. They just know that they don’t want to pay a lot of money for it and that they want their bike back tomorrow (if not today).

  31. I know some days I am planning just to degrease and relube my drivetrain but then I realise I need to wait for my degreased chain to dry (wiping it just isn’t the same) so I find myself filling a bucket. I then kick myself when I realise I haven’t removed a wheel so just under the rear brake on the seat tube under the seat stay still has grime or right at the top of the forks and it becomes a whole lot more obsessive.

  32. @Mikael Liddy

     

    If you’re doing this each time you clean the bike, then they shouldn’t ever get so dirty that you can’t get something off.

    At the risk of violating the principle of using one’s hand to throw things into disorder, that ^ there might be my problem. That, and one too many winter rides on the gumwalls.

  33. @chuckp

    Spending countless hours cleaning your own bike is one thing … a labor of love. And you have the luxury being an absolute perfectionist and doing it on your time and your schedule. But being a shop/team mechanic cleaning and maintaining a fleet of bikes … hard work and not quite as much fun. You’re on a clock to get it done. Been there, done that. It’s still fun, but not what I’d call a dream job.

    I’m beginning to get a feel for what this must be like; my sons have Go-Ride sessions on a Saturday and I coach whilst Sunday is club run day and the weather has been filthy recently. We’ve been cleaning five or six bikes each weekend. Thankfully, the boys are getting better at the post ride cleaning.

  34. Nice article Frank.  But at the risk of being a pedant, Dial Indicators have needles, not Micrometers.  Just something to put in your quiver for future articles.

  35. I’ve always felt a bit blessed that not only do I love road cycling, but I also love working on my bike. I do it all except headset replacements. Working on the bike is a world unto itself, and the aesthetically pleasing simplicity of its mechanics only enhances the time spent self-wrenching. I love it that my bike-work so beautifully supports my road cycling. There’s a completeness having the two together, and a deep satisfaction of knowing my steed intimately whether I’m moving on it, or it’s waiting (in pristine freshness) for the next ride.

  36. @DeKerr

    @Mikael Liddy

    If you’re doing this each time you clean the bike, then they shouldn’t ever get so dirty that you can’t get something off.

    At the risk of violating the principle of using one’s hand to throw things into disorder, that ^ there might be my problem. That, and one too many winter rides on the gumwalls.

    I’m pretty sure that unless you’re a freakishly long Dutch primate, we could all do with actually cleaning our bikes more than we actually do…

  37. @uptitus

    I’ve always felt a bit blessed that not only do I love road cycling, but I also love working on my bike. I do it all except headset replacements. Working on the bike is a world unto itself, and the aesthetically pleasing simplicity of its mechanics only enhances the time spent self-wrenching. I love it that my bike-work so beautifully supports my road cycling. There’s a completeness having the two together, and a deep satisfaction of knowing my steed intimately whether I’m moving on it, or it’s waiting (in pristine freshness) for the next ride.

    What I particularly enjoy is that the more you work on your bike you better your understanding of the machine becomes. Not long ago for me, the workings of a bike was a complete mystery, and one that made me quite nervous.

    Now I’ve started getting more hands on it no longer fills me with dread when my RD isn’t working smoothly – I know I can fix it. Repairing a puncture is 5 minutes work rather than a whole saturday afternoon swearing. When on the bike, noises can be identified and categorised quickly into ‘annoying’ and ‘dangerous’.

    The whole process leaves you more comfortable on the bike, I think.

  38. I’d suggest there is a big difference between servicing your own bike and doing it as a “dream job”, specifically that is time.  I doubt it would be commercially viable to spend as much time over any work item doing it commercially as you would on your own bike.

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