Lately, my gear shift hasn't been working properly. I'd be pedaling my heart out on the busy downtown streets, and my gears would grind and shift without warning. It was an uneasy sensation to say the least. Not only did it sound terrible but it felt very unsafe. So, I took my bike into Indy Bike Hub for a look-over.
As it turns out, I made a rookie mistake when throwing my bicycle into the back of a friend's car months ago. Shoving it in a tiny back seat, derailer side down, had put my gear-shift out of alignment. The friendly bicycle mechanic asked me if that was the case and explained that I should "Never, ever do that again."
I watched him take apart and put back together my gear shift mechanism in a matter of minutes. To my right, a skinny-jean clad gal touched the flipped brim of her cycling cap and threw her head back in laughter as her companion re-wrapped the handle bars of his fixie. I watched them and felt out of place in my gray slacks and pink floral trench. I felt apart from their world and the world of the bicycle mechanic.
As I paid the nominal repair fee of $10, I thanked him for fixing my bike and teaching me a little something about gear shifts. He told me to come back in a month to get my chain cleaned, that it was all "gummed up." And I left with a vague sense of dejection.
A year ago, when I started this blog it was because I felt intimidated by zooming cyclists on bustling streets. The same thing that pushed me to go boldly beyond my comfort zone last year was now creeping over me without warning and in a crippling way.
In the past year that I've been biking and blogging, I've learned a lot and changed a lot. I don't smoke. I buy less gas. I feel more "in" my body. Yet the more I change and learn, the more I realize how little I know of the ways of the two-wheeled world. When I got home from the bike shop, I re-read a few of my early blogs, searching the words for inspiration. And as I read, I pondered: would I ever achieve mastery of my two wheels?
A year is a natural time for retrospection. When I began this blog, I wanted to grow and encourage others to grow with me. Bicycling is an integral part of our cities growth, and I want to experience that. But sometimes growth comes with pain. I'm no expert, and 52 weeks of riding and writing doesn't make me one. I guess the jolt of insecurity I felt in the bike shop is exactly what I needed to remember why I started riding and what I want from it.
Tell me, why do you ride?