n-plus-1 bikes, inner tubes, spacetweeps and stress.

by Mark Zaugg 16. May 2012 01:22

There's a truism I've heard quite often lately about bicycles.  No matter how many you own, you always need one more.

I laughed when I first heard it.  Quite loudly.  Then the frame on my 20 year old Norco mountain bike broke while riding in the snow.  I bought myself a new Trek 3 series regretting that it wasn't the bike I really wanted to own.  What I really wanted to purchase was a great road bike for city commuting on the roads, but it was cheaper and much more practical and reasonable to get a new mountain bike for my newfound year-long riding.  And suddenly I grokked n+1 bikes.

It got worse than just one more bike for me.  Much worse, in fact.  Every time I go to Bike Bike I longingly yearn for a decent cargo bike.  Imagine not balancing and strapping whatever I'm hauling to the rack over my rear tire.  I could carry things much more safely without worry about the bungee cord that's got to be nearly as old as that Norco breaking.  Yeah, that's all I'd really need.  My Trek mountain bike, a whiz bang commuter and one of those awesome cargo bikes for hauling stuff.

Well, except that now I'm well accustomed to riding year round, I'm kinda getting tired of doing spring maintenance on the Trek to the degree I require in order to make it acceptably ridable after every winter.  There's no question, it gets rather grungy and the work involved with simply cleaning the drive train is no laughing matter.  In fact, wouldn't it be awesome to get one of those internal gear hub babies?  It would be so much nicer to maintain.  So that would be fantastic.  My mountain bike for crappy weather, my internal hub for really crappy, winter weather, my whiz bang commuter bike and one of those awesome cargo bikes for hauling stuff.

But you know, just today I went back to Bike Bike to replace my pannier that I was too brain damaged last week to notice when it fell off.  While I pulled up outside and locked up my bike (force of habit -- one I really don't want to break while I only have the one bike I rely upon) I noticed some really sexy folding bikes in the display window.  Now I can't say I've ever had any desire to have a folding bike, but I've heard the advancements have been really astounding and now they're clearly allowed on Calgary Transit it seems like a damned appealing thing to have for when I'm shuffling around town and need to worry about storing my bike.  So it's just my mountain bike for crappy weather, my internal hub for really crappy winter weather, my whiz bang commuter bike for getting around town, one of those awesome cargo bikes for hauling stuff, and a super sexy folding bike for when I have to worry about parking the damned thing at the office.

Although, truth be told, I have to admit that "brain damaged" isn't quite the term I need to use to express what happened with losing my pannier last week.

In actuality I'm so stressed out that...  Well, I'm very stressed out.  I've got all the signs showing in spades again right now.  I'm not sleeping well again.  My blood pressure is climbing back up the scale even though I'm taking my medication regularly.  I'm locking myself further into a self-induced segregation and feeling more and more distant from my friends.  The end result of all this is I end up riding my bike in a surly mood and don't even notice when my pannier falls off.

There's a little bit different from the last time I fought one of these big ones off.  Last time I wasn't sleeping like this, I ran into the Space Tweep Society and at least made something productive out of not sleeping.  Sure, I waste a whole lot of time on twitter talking to people I've never met in real life, but they ARE my friends and they have been amazingly powerful to building my reserves.  That's so much better than tossing and turning, waking up two or three times a night - always too late to run into my normal crutches people I regularly bitch at - and waking up as if I never fell asleep in the first place.  It's a lot different than falling headlong into a game until I'm bored with it and then flit to another equally pointless and subtly different game.

What is the same is the feeling of hopelessness.  The feeling that no matter what I do, I'm just not going to get a better result.  I'm headlong into a whole pile of those right now.

The sense that I'm bashing my head against a wall financially.  Not that anyone ever seems to care.  Why do I give a rat's ass about being decent when no one around me seems to be?  Hey, over the past three weeks I've even run into the mindless, brainless bureaucracy that doesn't even bother to monitor punishments it metes out!  No one will ever convince me that they actually care about anything more than the paycheque they collect every two weeks.

Just today, TODAY, I got a letter asking me to resign up for another five year term of volunteering with an organization that has only once ever asked me to actually volunteer -- and THAT single time only came in response to me jumping up and down and lodging complaints about never being asked to participate!  Honestly, is there a single organization in world that requests volunteers to sign up and then can afford to shun them once they have jumped through the hoops in order to participate?

Really?

REALLY?

I got thinking about the things that have been bugging the hell out of me lately and I'm concerned.  I've got five Very Angry Letters (tm) I want to write.  There's the three non-stop standard letters of complaint that seem to rule my life on a constant basis.  But right now there are two major issues I can't seem to get anyone to listen and act on right now in addition to the normal griefs and annoyances of my life.

Is there any reason I'm riding my bike angry right now?  That's supposed to be an enjoyment factor, especially for me.  Even I've been wondering what's been happening with me when I'm screaming at the moronically stupid drivers who endanger my life by driving in the bus / bike lanes along 9th Avenue SE through Inglewood while indignantly insisting that I'm blocking their progress and demanding the right to honk and gesture rudely at me for riding in the lane that has been designated for me.

So tonight while I was doing my bike maintenance I suddenly realized what I've been fighting and why I've been feeling so hopeless and uptight lately.  Sure, I need another bike, but until money becomes a little less tight I've discovered that my immediate desire isn't to have one more bike.  I'm thinking along a much simpler line to relieve stress.  I simply want to be able to go buy a new inner tube every bloody time I get a flat.

Infinite spare tires.  I want to stop looking for leaks.  I've had a slow leak that's been bedevilling me all winter long.  While finally swapping studded tires for mere knobbies I took that tube, submerged it into the water and knelt on it until I found the leak.

Some times the only thing you can do is rip off the old patch, sand off the crusty cement, and put a new patch on properly.  One of those patches is to stare at the skies and reconnect with some of my #SpaceTweeps.  I need to get some sleep.  I need to listen to more music.  I need to remember what I like about myself.

Meanwhile I'd be damned afraid if you're one of those people who can expect one of my Very Angry Letters (tm) soon.  Honestly, some things have to change and it's long overdue that someone actually listens and acts.

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