What I was expecting.

What I was expecting.

Guest Article: Bikes Smell Awesome Too.

by / / 62 posts

Fixing a puncture for a neighbour.

@snoov moves the topic away from Lance, doping, EPMS, and Berty’s Spanish adventures. Our brains are so crammed with nonsense our childhood memories get jammed deep down into the center.  A memory waits to be released and sometimes it’s a remembered smell that floats it up to the surface.

VLVV, Gianni

My front tyre has been losing more air than the rear for a couple of months now. I’d just figured it was the valve as I had clumsily bent the little pin that’s inside while removing the pump before we hit the road. I bent it back and it seemed to be okay. It has always lasted our rides but this evening I decided to strip the tube off and test it in a basin of water. To my surprise there was no air escaping from the valve but there was a tiny hole in the tube so I patched it up and put it back on the bike. It occurs to me now that the low pressure of a tube out of the tyre is nothing compared to my normal 120psi and so if the valve was leaking, this test probably wouldn’t show it. Then I decided to test all the tubes I have lying around and repair any holes so that they’re all ready to go. To be fair I’ve only had two punctures since taking to the roads and one was a classic pinch puncture bumping up the kerb-cut right outside my flat as I arrived home from a ride.

I didn’t find any holes, but when I let the air out of the first tube right in front of my face I took a deep breath of the expelled air. The smell was delicious. It brought back memories of the many punctures I’ve fixed in my time on bikes. It brought back the lesson I learned when my Dad dropped me off at the only skatepark in Scotland and at the time when it was one of the best in Europe. I had an American BMX that I’d begged my parents to order over for my birthday and Christmas which I’d also committed my life savings towards, an SE Racing Quadangle. I had arrived with a puncture which I planned on making good but after pumping it up for the second time and rolling forward … pssss. I was too keen to ride and one of the locals asked if I’d checked the tyre for glass. I hadn’t and found a large piece straight away, once the third puncture was fixed my Dad arrived and it was time to go home, day wasted.

The smell also took me back to when I was still at Primary School (maybe 8 or so) and had gotten my first puncture. I went into the house and told my Mum. She said we’d have to go down to Woolworth’s and get a Puncture Repair Outfit! Now that was exciting, I remember thinking how great it was going to be and tried to imagine what it would look like, what it would consist of and even what colour it would be. The disappointment of not being able to ride my bike had completely disappeared, I was getting a Puncture Repair OUTFIT!!! Not only was I going to be able to fix punctures, I was going to look fantastic while doing it. I hadn’t even begun to imagine what other activities would now be open to me. So, we got in the car. We drove to the shops down near the beach and esplanade. Parked up and walked towards “Woolies”. I can’t help wondering if my Mum had noticed my level of excitement, and maybe questioned that somehow, my expectations were somehow out of wack. I’m pretty sure she noticed the tears though, when she picked up the box and showed it to me. It was about 15 centimetres long (6”) and I just knew that there was no way going to be an overall in there.

// Guest Article

  1. @RedRanger

    @frank

    Other smells: cow shit takes me right home to my old training rides. The smell of ozone has me at the top of “killer hill” back home in North Oaks in an instant…WD-40 has me drilling wholes in a custom metal cleat adapter I made for my old Duegi shoes to take SPDs like Motorola were riding. Man, I love that shit.

    you ever ride into south St Paul? the old stock yards must have reeked, now they are all gone and buisness parks have been built.

    We have a local climb called Pig Farm.  Once upon a time there was, yes, a pig farm on top.  Must have been diabolical — it’s a climb that just gets steeper and steeper, ending in a 14% wall, with the farm on top.  Can only imagine what it must have smelled like up there on a hot day.

  2. After giving the steed a thorough clean the night before a long morning ride, the smell of WD-40 and grease stays on your hands all night. Each time you catch a whiff, the smell reminds you of the joy that is coming the next day of a beautifully smooth ride.

  3. So many memories….

    There was a shop in Blackburn ,Victoria, Australia run by a grumpy old man, was early in my cycling that I frequented it. Was full of crap but a wonderful place.

    One of the things I loved was that he sold bikes, guns, ammo and darts. What more do you need?

    Sadly he is no longer with us and a redevelopment has replaced the old shop.

  4. @minion

    @RedRanger Yikes! I rode with a guy who was deaf in his right ear, (had shit balance and would write off two frames a year or so) but the really dodgy bit was riding in a paceline with him – if he was on the inside he couldn’t hear what you were saying so he insisted on riding on the outer traffic side. Thing was then he couldn’t hear traffic coming – and if you were having a chat in the paceline he’d turn his head toward you to hear better. A number of times trucks would whistle past him millimetres away from his shoulder without him noticing was quite scary.

    We used to ride with a deaf guy in the days before SIS. You forget just how much you need a sense of hearing as well as feel make friction gears work. He was always between gears – never enough to skip but enough to make the world’s most irritating mechanical rattle.

  5. @all

    Thanks.  I’m back from Australia and have this awesomeness to come back to (my story on this site).  I’m just about to go out for the first ever ride with my VMH on the bike I built for her which has been gathering dust for 6 months.  I’ll have more time to enjoy the posts and respond later.  Hope it’s as beautiful a day where you all are today and that you get to go for a ride.

  6. Out where we ride along the back roads there are large palace compounds and walled private areas.

    Several of them have camel herds which are allowed to roam around but there are stables, which tend to be at the back near our cycle routes.

    If you have never smelled a camel – let alone a whole bunch of camels and camel shit – I advise you not to seek out the experience.

  7. My first bike was bought from the great Bluebird Cycles in Petone, Wellington, and I got given it for my 7th birthday. I remember the Campagnolo and Dunlop smell of Bluebirds very well indeed…almost as well as I remember the smell of the kowhai trees in Tui Road where I first learned to ride that gleaming machine I dubbed “The Red Baron”…

    To forestall the inevitable comments, it was a unisex bike, alright? Not a girls bike. And the carrier was there for dubbing my mates and carrying my delivery copies of the Eastbourne Courier. Note also the stripped rear mudguard and chainguard, yet with the cunning front mudguard stopping any splashing with, er, mud.

  8. @the Engine

    @snoov – now you’re back can we get down to organising a Cogal?

    A Scottish Cogal. Now that would be a treat.

    Nice article Snoov. Got me thinking back too many years to the days of Tom Clarks in the High Street. Odd combination of bikes, fishing and darts but mostly bikes. Now that was a unique shop ‘atmosphere’. His window display of sun faded bike parts and accessories from the past always fascinated. I wish I’d just bought up bucket loads of bits when he retired and it closed down all those years ago.

  9. The lead photo has only gotten more awesome now that I see a second neighbor…sunning in the backyard! Ha.

  10. My first smell of the bike came in the form of vulcanizing patches that my father would take pride in showing us how it was done. Strike the match and watch the sparkling fizzle followed by the smell of sulphurey smoke and rubber. Good times the 70’s!

  11. @JohnB

    @the Engine

    @snoov – now you’re back can we get down to organising a Cogal?

    A Scottish Cogal. Now that would be a treat.

    Nice article Snoov. Got me thinking back too many years to the days of Tom Clarks in the High Street. Odd combination of bikes, fishing and darts but mostly bikes. Now that was a unique shop ‘atmosphere’. His window display of sun faded bike parts and accessories from the past always fascinated. I wish I’d just bought up bucket loads of bits when he retired and it closed down all those years ago.

    October – Aberfeldy?

  12. Why don’t we figure out where everyone is and then think of somewhere central for a Scottish Cogal?

    I’m in Dundee.  Aberfeldy would be fine for me, an hour or so by car which would stop me having more than one beer afterwards (I don’t really drink though so no problem).

  13. Late breaking news….

    Mrs Engine has offered the use of our place in Callander and food. If the numbers creep over, say, three – then we’ve got places to send people locally that won’t beak the bank and will allow the consumption of proper recovery beverages in Callander in a bar that sells Belgian beer (sometimes) – and provided we behave – Mrs Engine will still feed us.

    She will also take the piss mercilessly….

  14. @anotherdownunder I was thinking about putting up a post about Robs Cycles and then I scroll down and there it is.  I remember going in there regularly during my school years from the 70s to the 80s.  My first and second bikes came from there, first a 20 inch and then my dream – a purple 10spd racer for Christmas 1980.  I think he also sold Peugeots as well as his own brand of bikes.  I dont know if he was a frame builder as well or they were just rebadged frames.  He certainly was grumpy at times.  Probably just sick of kids like me going in and staring at bikes all day.

  15. @snoov I’m in Arbroath. Aberfeldy or Callander good for me. Car share and one of us can limit the beer for the drive home the next day… I appreciate Mrs Engines offer of hospitality and merciless pisstaking.

    Early October out due to wee holiday. Taking bike to get some hill training done.

  16. @JohnB

    @snoov I’m in Arbroath. Aberfeldy or Callander good for me. Car share and one of us can limit the beer for the drive home the next day… I appreciate Mrs Engines offer of hospitality and merciless pisstaking.

    Early October out due to wee holiday. Taking bike to get some hill training done.

    Is the weekend of the 13th 14th October too early? Last full weekend before the clocks go back.

  17. @Nate

    @RedRanger

    @frank

    Other smells: cow shit takes me right home to my old training rides. The smell of ozone has me at the top of “killer hill” back home in North Oaks in an instant…WD-40 has me drilling wholes in a custom metal cleat adapter I made for my old Duegi shoes to take SPDs like Motorola were riding. Man, I love that shit.

    you ever ride into south St Paul? the old stock yards must have reeked, now they are all gone and buisness parks have been built.

    We have a local climb called Pig Farm.  Once upon a time there was, yes, a pig farm on top.  Must have been diabolical — it’s a climb that just gets steeper and steeper, ending in a 14% wall, with the farm on top.  Can only imagine what it must have smelled like up there on a hot day.

    No, you can’t. I pass by a local pig farm on occasion, and you seriously can NOT imagine the smell on a hot day…. the odour is so strong it has a personality of its own, and has even been known on some summer evenings to go out for a night on the town.

  18. @DavidI

    @Nate

    @RedRanger

    @frank

    Other smells: cow shit takes me right home to my old training rides. The smell of ozone has me at the top of “killer hill” back home in North Oaks in an instant…WD-40 has me drilling wholes in a custom metal cleat adapter I made for my old Duegi shoes to take SPDs like Motorola were riding. Man, I love that shit.

    you ever ride into south St Paul? the old stock yards must have reeked, now they are all gone and buisness parks have been built.

    We have a local climb called Pig Farm.  Once upon a time there was, yes, a pig farm on top.  Must have been diabolical — it’s a climb that just gets steeper and steeper, ending in a 14% wall, with the farm on top.  Can only imagine what it must have smelled like up there on a hot day.

    No, you can’t. I pass by a local pig farm on occasion, and you seriously can NOT imagine the smell on a hot day…. the odour is so strong it has a personality of its own, and has even been known on some summer evenings to go out for a night on the town.

    I went out there over the weekend.  A few horses and cows, thankfully no pigs.

  19. @the Engine

    @JohnB

    @snoov I’m in Arbroath. Aberfeldy or Callander good for me. Car share and one of us can limit the beer for the drive home the next day… I appreciate Mrs Engines offer of hospitality and merciless pisstaking.

    Early October out due to wee holiday. Taking bike to get some hill training done.

    Is the weekend of the 13th 14th October too early? Last full weekend before the clocks go back.

    Perfect. Back on the 7th and will have a bit of residual fitness and cycling tan left over.

  20. @JohnB

    @the Engine

    @JohnB

    @snoov I’m in Arbroath. Aberfeldy or Callander good for me. Car share and one of us can limit the beer for the drive home the next day… I appreciate Mrs Engines offer of hospitality and merciless pisstaking.

    Early October out due to wee holiday. Taking bike to get some hill training done.

    Is the weekend of the 13th 14th October too early? Last full weekend before the clocks go back.

    Perfect. Back on the 7th and will have a bit of residual fitness and cycling tan left over.

    Ok – I’ve put a note in the Cogal thread – depending on what @snoov says the 13th looks like a go. Obviously I have a Callander bias but it’s between you and @snnov on your preferred location. If we could nail time and place by the end of the week that’d be great.

  21. @anotherdownunder

    So many memories….

    There was a shop in Blackburn ,Victoria, Australia run by a grumpy old man, was early in my cycling that I frequented it. Was full of crap but a wonderful place.

    One of the things I loved was that he sold bikes, guns, ammo and darts. What more do you need?

    Sadly he is no longer with us and a redevelopment has replaced the old shop.

    Wow! I grew up in Blackburn and Rob sold me more than one or two parts for my various bikes in those golden days. I bought my share of air gun pellets too, but that’s another story… He was an old school gentleman who knew a lot about classic bikes and sadly he was getting grumpy because he was losing his hearing and new technology (MTBs especially) didn’t inspire him, I think. There was that kid that kept coming in asking for 26″ tubes, which he eventually had… Oh the memories. His shop had that smell too. A mixture of bike, wood and grease. Awesome. Thanks. (first post, love the site)

  22. @DavidI

    There’s a river that has a regular rowing regatta on it, that has a pig fat rendering factory close to the start. so you row from the park to the start of the course, sit around waiting for the races ahead of you to lie up and get going, get yourself lined up, then go anaerobic as quick as you can all while inhaling the smell of hot pig fat.

    While we’re reminiscing, I had a construction job once where the boss turned up with 90 44 gallon drums that had stored pig tallow in . My job was to cut the top and bottom of them off and help him weld them together.
    God I hate that shit. I think I’d throw up if I ever smell that smell again.

  23. Smells, memories, they all seem so long ago,    As a person the wrong side of 40 I still remember vividly getting up on Sunday mornings along time ago and asking my dad to help me change the latest flat tyre on my bike ….  a lime green Malvern Star dragster if I recall correctly …….  I must of been a trustworthy soul as out the gate Id go at 8am and head towards the river, which seemed at the time to be 100’s of kilometres away, in reality it was only 2.5 kms ……   passing all the freshly cut lawns of which that smell still remains ….  even today as I cut our own lawns it brings back such memories.    I would meet up with mates who had shared the same early morning experiences of hasty bike maintenance and patch jobs.

    We would ride along the river in this small country town we called home …. stop a while and watch the wooden speed boats race up and down and around the bouys, only to light up the loud peddle again and blast back down to where they started from ……   nothing quite like the smell of Av Gas in the morning (or whatever the hell they used to run those home made beasts on ).

    This ride, stop,ride stop sequence took all day and when we were finally spent we would all ride off in seperate directions bound for home as the sun began to set.

    I walked in the door and my parents didnt blink an eye, just casually asking how my day was……. My answer was the same each time …  good , I replied.

    Now the picture above is a reflection of where I am today, two young children, one girl, one boy.    I wonder whether we will have the courage to let them do as I did back in the day,   leave home on their bikes at a very young age with no path or direction in mind.   Just to ride and smell the smells that can only be experienced by bike ……..  Even though the world is a much larger and intimidating place … I sure hope so

  24. Nice one @snoov good read and we all candredge good (and bad) memories up through some smell, usually quite unexpectedly too. Scent is a powerful trigger right enough, like music I guess.

    Interesting to read the early discussion for the Jockinese Cogal too, and I am really glad it all came together and I managed somehow to be home for it too.

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