Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My (T)rusty Bike

Little did I know when this photo was taken that I'd end up having a life-long affair with bicycles. Yes, that's me. Stop laughing. That pinafore was the height of fashion in the 70s.

I learned to drive at the ripe ol' age of 34, and not without protest. To this day, two years later (sshh!), I haven't really mastered the whole automobility thing. I prefer the more traditional methods of transport: my feet and my bicycle. Living in the centre of a small university city, feet and bike are more than sufficient - in fact, my bicycle is one of my most treasured possessions. I bought it at the supermarket for €99 - a bargain, you will agree, AND I could cycle it home with my shopping in the basket. It's sturdy and heavy, with two baskets and bell - apparently it also has gears, but as my speed settings are At-A-Comfortable-Pace and Slightly-Faster-Than-A-Comfortable-Pace, I think the gears have rusted into place.

Rust. Aaah, rust. The point of my post (as if not having a point has ever stopped me) is actually rust vs. my bike. My bicycle has been befallen by rust. Not surprising, really, because it's outside in all weathers. You see, I'm in a tricky situation: I live in a city where (thankfully) bicycle theft is the #1 crime. It's those darned students, you see - stumbling home drunkenly, they grab untethered bikes and make off with them. Sometimes, they'll even make off with tethered bikes: they're surprisingly tenacious when drunk and bicycle locks don't seem to be much of an obstacle. So my El Cheapo Bicycle, though much loved, won't be much of a loss when it goes the way of my last two bikes (darn you, students!), but because it's a supermarket special, it's gradually being eaten away by the elements. When I cycle to work in the morning, the entire bicycle clanks and creaks - people hear me coming from far off: CREAK creak CREAK creak CREAK creak. I sound like Jacob Marley's ghost. People trudging to work in the morning look up in fright when they hear me coming: clank-clank, clank-clank, clank-clank. I give them an apologetic wave as I trundle past: Yes, yes, it's only me. No, it's not The Grim Reaper, just me in my woolly hat on my rusty bike. Carry on. Nothing to see here.

As a result, I have bought myself a little bottle of oil and have to spruce up my wheels at the weekend. But as Murphy's Law of Bicycle Repair dictates, my bicycle will probably be stolen immediately afterwards by some tipsy youth. Nevertheless, I think I've reached the point where a bit of bicycle maintenance is almost unavoidable... I'd better get to it before I wake up to find the saddle and wheels perched atop a pile of rusty dust.

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