Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Bicycle Debacle

It's been great having time off from work. Throughout the day yesterday I reminded myself that it was Friday - trying to keep my perspective. With so much time on my hands, I idled more than I would most days. With the holiday beach-goers clogging the island, I have not taken my car out of the carport. I have been taking frequent walks to be sure Gracie gets the exercise that a young, high energy pup requires, but my knee is swollen and stiff (the meniscetomy last year was only mildly successful). I miss having my bike to ride, so I decided to get brother Ken's bike out and lube the chain.

Kenny left his bike here. I guess the Catskills in January aren't the best place to bike ride. His bike is a mountain bike with hand brakes and too many gears. For many years I have been riding my cruiser which had coaster brakes and no gears. I made a note to myself that I would have to get used to hand brakes again. So I sorted through the various keys on the rack and selected a couple that I thought might open the lock on Ken's bike. I pulled the bike out of the carport, grabbed the WD40 and gave the chain, derailer, pedals and wheels a good squirting. I checked the tires and they were well inflated. Then I realized I had to lower the seat.

I found a lever that appeared to lock the seat in place and released it. The milk-crate-basket set up on the back was wedged under the seat, so that had to be removed before the seat could move. I undid the rather unique bungee tie-downs that fixed the basket to the carrier on the back and attempted to push the seat down. This became quite a challenge as I worked at it with no sign of downward movement. At one point I held the bike next to me to see just how much the seat needed to come down. Alot! I tried turning the bike upside down, I tried spraying with WD, ...I tried everything I could think of. I actually thought of asking one of my male neighbors to help me, but I wasn't ready yet for that. I would remove the seat and hammer it down.

I got out a set of allen wrenches that Ken had bought for me last year some time, and chose the one that fit the screw holding the seat in place. I unscrewed the bolt and several metal parts came off in my had along with the seat. I grabbed the hammer and pounded the seat down. Success!! It took me probably 45 minutes to figure out how to put the seat back on - as I had not paid attention to the "several metal parts" that came off with the seat. I was getting very frustrated, and Gracie chewing on the picnic table didn't help. (She got repositioned to another part of the yard, only to then begin barking and whining... .Grrrr.). Having the seat on, I adjusted the carrier on the back to extend out further, then put the milk-crate-basket back on, with the unique bungee-like fasteners. At last!

Now for a test ride. I hopped on, noticing that the ease with which I could hop onto my cruiser was not to be found with this mountain bike. I gently pedaled around the street and at one point caught myself trying to brake by pedals. I circled back to the driveway and hit the hand brake with uneven pressure and the front brake grabbed sharply. I stopped, and as I swung my leg over the bike, my foot caught on the milk-crate-basket on the back and I lost my footing, landing hard on my back on the coarse gravel, bringing the bike down on top of me, and hitting my head hard.

I cursed. I lay there feeling the throbbing of my head, my elbow (which took the brunt of the fall) and all parts in between. For a brief second, I wondered if my neighbor across the street saw me. He's a delightful elderly gentleman who cares for many of the snowbirds' properties in the neighborhood, and would be the type to come running. I pulled myself up out of the rocks, and saw that my elbow was pretty chewed up. I went inside, washed it off and applied an antibiotic ointment. I went outside, put away the wrenches and hammer and WD40, walked the bike into the carport, locked it to the pilon and came inside. Perhaps today I will try it again, without the milk-crate-basket. Or, perhaps I'll drive to Naples Cycle and check out their line of beach cruisers. I might even get a pink bike this time!

No comments: