Monday, July 9, 2007

Four Wheels, or Two?

The dreaded scenario happened: two old immobile diesels.

Last week the Mercedes sprung a leak near the injector pump. Since fixing the Audi has been on the back burner, I was left with no drivable vehicles and a lot of work to do.

We've been without a working car many times before and it's generally not a big deal. I hardly ever drive to work anyway. Getting the family to church on Sunday morning is about the only time we need a ride.

What's worse than the dreaded scenario? My bike broke halfway through the week. Man, was that hard. I was left with walking or busing to work. I chose to walk. Getting groceries became painful, literally. (and it bugs the heck out of me when people say "literally" and it isn't literal. My hand actually hurt after carrying the heavy bag of food back from the Co-op.) Life without a car was manageable, but life without a bike felt like a real hardship.

On a recommendation from a coworker, I took my good bike to Express Bike Shop. I always modify my bikes to use just a single speed by taking off all the derailleurs, cables, and whatnot, and shortening the chain to accommodate two gears I find to be a useful ratio. Since I'm an urban year-round biker I don't need a lot of gears and having just one means there's far less stuff to go wrong. I had the folks at Express do it the "right" way and actually remove the extraneous cogs and add a special tensioner to the chain (see photo). Since it was the Fourth of July week, I had to wait extra long for it to be done.
All of the walking, besides being good for my prayer life, gave me time to realize what my main vehicle really is. I'd been feeling for a while like I should maybe break down and get a "normal" car like a Camry or something that would be completely boring and dependable (as well as expensive bloody gas consuming). Some might call this responsible, while others would consider it "selling out." It feels more like the latter to me. In any case, realizing that the bike is my main vehicle and cars are only secondary/occasional transportation put a lot of things in perspective. I once told an old bike-guy-friend-coworker from Amore, "I want to have an old car I can work on and basically never drive." I don't think he had any idea what I was talking about, but maybe you do after reading a bit of this post. I love working on cars, but I'm not so big on driving them every day.

Oh, I think I did fix the leak on the Mercedes too. It was a neat little thing by the injector pump that lets you prime the system by hand! (what a cool idea.) It had a worn out rubber seal. I got something from the hardware store that seems to work. I also have a replacement for the little unit if that doesn't do it. The reason why I only "think" I fixed it is I haven't really driven it anywhere since I worked on it, just idled it and looked for dripping. I've been too busy biking to drive it anywhere.

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