walking around in tap shoes and pyjamas since 2010 - my cycling log (opens in new window)

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Learning How to Do Enough

I believe I have, at more than one point, mentioned that I have the personality of a border collie. I perseverate. I get into an idea, or an activity, or whatever, and it consumes my consciousness. I don't have hobbies: I have obsessions.

So it is with cycling.

I've noticed, in fact, that this quality appears to be disproportionately common among cyclists — either because cycling induces obsession, or because obsessive people tend to enjoy cycling (perhaps because it offers so many minutia* upon which to frenetically focus?).

I got into cycling and subsequently wanted to learn absolutely everything about my bike — including how to fix absolutely every problem it could possibly have that doesn't involve welding**.

I've since decided (through the manful application of will and self-discipline) that learning to fix every possible bike problem that doesn't involve wedling is a good goal, and probably not a terribly unreasonable one — but it's not necessary.

At this point I'm pretty content with the kind of routine maintenance that one is likely to need to manage on a long ride — changing out a tube, booting a tire, trueing a wheel after a major bump, adjusting brakes and swapping brake shoes/pads/whatevers, dialing in derailers, and that sort of thing.

I've determined that these are the tasks I need to be able to do in order to succesfully complete brevets of any length, and that carrying the tools to get them done is reasonable.

Carrying an entire bike shop strapped to my frame is not (for me) reasonable.

Given enough time, I'm sure I will slowly expand my repertoire of bike-fixing skills. However, for now, I'm learning that it is enough to know how to do just enough. This is a good thing.

*Speaking of minutia: I suspect there is a similarly disproportionate representation of hardware- and office-supply store enthusiasts in the cycling world ... by which I mean those of us who may otherwise hate shopping with the fury of a thousand shrews, but who can pass happy hours in a hardware store — nay, in the very 'fasteners' aisle of such a store — without buying so much as a washer.

**I admit it: I have a lifelong fear of welding equipment — one which is probably well-warranted, considering my intermittent difficulties with task prioritization. I can totally see myself reaching for the 'off' switch on the tank with the flaming torch in the same hand, or taking a swig of tea with said torch in said hand, and hosing my face with sparks. There are reasons I don't work with power tools (except drills and Dremels) unless they're integrated into tables.


  1. I haven't learned to weld yet. I can solder circuitry and plumbing like a madman, but no welding. I try to carry enough stuff to get myself home despite any likely misfortunes. I've walked once or twice, which is ignominious, but never called for a pick-up. I saw a post recently wherein a cracked frame near the rear drop-out was repaired with a thick wrapping of athletic tape. I don't currently carry tape, but I'm thinking about it now. It would be better than calling for a pick up.

  2. "I saw a post recently wherein a cracked frame near the rear drop-out was repaired with a thick wrapping of athletic tape."

    Wow, I'm definitely going to have to remember this. I try to keep some athletic tape handy for first-aid purposes; I never thought of using it on the bike.

    It definitely seems that there is something in the soul of a cyclist that rebels against calling for help. The last time I blew a tire on a long ride, I didn't happen to have a pump (I had foolishly decided I could probably roll the dice on that one, since the ride wasn't all that long -- ha!), so I found a city bus, threw my bike on its rack, rode as close to home as possible, then walked the bike the rest of the way.

    When I got home, my room mate said, "Why didn't you just call me? I would've come and got you."

    It was impossible to explain :)