18 June 2007


"Ne te quaesiveris extra."

Yeah. Right!

Being self-sufficient is an ideal; self-reliance a goal, perhaps. For me, certain limitations are truth. I’ve said it before: I am an idiot with my hands; tools under my power are weapons of evil.

Ok. I didn’t exactly kill my wife. I tried (not to kill her, I mean), but to fix the rear brake on her bike. It kept loosening for some reason ever since someone gave us the bike last year. (Is that why they gave it us last year?) My wife barely rode it, for it always rode badly. The tires were out of true; the gears jumped and skipped; the brakes, well, the brakes….

I wanted to be self-sufficient or just somewhat sufficient. Just this one time I didn’t want to go to the bike shop. I mean you just loosen this bolt and tighten that one…no? The bike – aptly named Envy because should she feel she must feel, well, just as inadequate as me – just can’t become a normal bike. And that’s all I really strove for; a minimal level of bike mediocrity. But it wasn’t to be. I read some Kent Peterson for encouragement. He can turn a $ 5 bike into a tourer / commuter. Could I do the same? No. I read some Sheldon Brown – hey I can read – for technical information and gathered interesting details on breaks caliper, on breaks cantilever, on breaks this and breaks that. Sheldon’s breaks work. Why can’t mine?

So I learned my lesson. Self-sufficiency is oftentimes self-insufficiency. Self-reliance a brutal mistake. When I saw my wife go head over heels (and believe me this was no love story) I nearly died. Envy’s chain somehow jumped the crown when she shifted on a slight downhill to which she reacted by hitting the brakes, the rear first…but…there was no brake…no stop…so in running wide on the coming curve she hit the front brake hard in a slight panic and JAMBTHERE SHE GOES FLYING OVER THE HANDLE BARS. Nasty gash on her elbow, swollen palm (she was not wearing gloves because her gloves were left on the kitchen table next to the nice cyclamen arrangement…they looked nice next to the cyclamen, sort of blending in with all those spring colors).

I called her Flying Dutchman after the fact – hours after the scary fact. My wife is way too kind and forgiving. We laughed together...until she said: “But you had just fixed the brakes hadn’t you?”

“No, no, dear, I swear. I didn’t fix them.”

16 June 2007

Bike Day 2

Well it was bike day again this past 10th of May. Lots of people out – almost 500, I think – mostly kids. The organization, as usual, left something to be desired: some people riding without helmets (which is against the law in Spain), people riding on the sidewalks (which is against the organization’s rules), people riding on the left side of the road (cause this isn’t England!), and overall a bit of everything that makes riding with a one-and-a half-year-old just a bit unnerving. There was one light fall in front of us involving two or three slightly reckless children, though no one was hurt for the course and all had good fun.

Alberte, as usual, did best, though he complained alongside me for most of the ride, criticizing all the poor riding habits of our fellow cyclists. Carme and her friend Elisa had a little trouble with the big hill because they refuse to concentrate on their gear changes, but on the return climb they got it right and made it. I was very proud of all and eventually won a little mini-tool set for the bike as part of the give-away-gifts the organization presents to the participants.

Mom didn’t join us because Envy (her little green BH mountain bike) almost killed her the day before when the rear break failed and her front break jammed hard on a slight downhill. Luckily only on a slight downhill. She flew off the bike head first and hit the pavement pretty hard. Hurt her right hand and her right elbow – the elbow much the worst for the road rash. I won’t say who played with her breaks – me, myself and I – trying to adjust them. Can you believe that?! I felt pretty shitty. Great job! Sorry, Mom.