My trusty steed had developed a squeak. I’m talking one of those squeaks that drives you up the wall… squeak… squeak… squeak… It appeared to be in the left side of the bottom bracket or in the left crank arm. For those of you who may not have any idea what I am talking about, my steed is a circa 1985 Nishiki Olympic steel road bike that I converted to fixed gear, and for those of you who don’t know what a fixed gear is… a fixed gear is a bike that has the rear cog fixed to the rear hub. If the bike is moving, so are the crank arms.
So, my squeaky steed….
This squeak was driving me nuts, it would only show up after I have been riding for a couple of minutes and the turning of the cranks generated some heat in the bearings. And, let me tell you, on a bike that you cannot “free wheel”, every time the cranks go around and I get a squeak… I was about ready to kill it.
Instead of killing it, I thought it would be best for some maintenance. You see, I bought this bike years ago while working in a bike shop, from a customer who had destroyed one of his wheels. I bought it off of him, because the cost of a new wheel was more then the bike was worth to him. So I offered him the cash that I had on me… $58.00. I then proceeded to spend about $300.00 on components to make this bike rideable…. boys with their toys… Oh yes, not killing my bike. I took the crank off and disassembled the bottom bracket, the spindle that the crank arms attach to. I do not believe that the bearings had ever been serviced, with close to 30 years on the parts… it needed some attention.
So, I replaced the old grease with new synthetic, super high speed, incredibly expensive bicycle grease. And, to my great please (of course) I no longer have a squeaking steed.
The moral of the story, with a couple of tools and a little know how, I saved myself the cost of having to pay someone else to work on my bike, freeing up those funds to go toward other necessities.
Initially, I think I started riding my bike to work because my employer offers a stipend for “alternative” methods of travel. I.E., they pay me to not drive to work. The stipend is available to those who carpool, use public transit, or in my case ride a bike. This not being the whole truth, as I worked in the bicycle industry before my current work, I still have several bikes. I’ll get into the bikes a bit later.
One of the first advantages I realized from riding the bike was that I was not craving that second, third, or even fourth cup of coffee in the mornings. Trust me when I say that I LOVE coffee… cutting back on the number of cups is next to amazing. After the reduction in coffee, I realized that I was losing weight… at first… and then I gained some… in addition to my paints now being snug in the butt and thighs… yes… the five miles from home to work has added muscle mass to my…. ummm… yeah… I feel much better, not as run down. The third, and maybe the biggest advantage, I get any aggression from the day out on my ride home. I turn up the screws and really crank it on the way home. I get my heart rate up, get a little sweat going, and I get from work to home… what’s there not to love?
Another great feature of me riding the bike to work, I’m not feeding my truck $4.00 per gallon gasoline on a weekly basis. I have been filling up my Chevy Silverado about once every other month, except when we go camping… for the better part of the past year. The way I see it, I’m saving about $150-$200 per month by riding my bike… that’s $1,800-$2,400 per year! How’s that for fuel efficient!?!?! Saving money is a key point of the prepper mindset. Saving funds where you can, to extend them to other areas.
The final factor, something I alluded to earlier, is the relaxation, the aggression release, the zen… that I get from riding the bike. I get the juices flowing. I’m being healthier. I’m less stressed and happier. Maybe it is just that I never actually grew away from the joy of riding my bike. I have always felt a… freedom… associated with riding. Freedom. I go where I choose. I set my mind to take me where I want to go. Freedom. It just feels good. Freedom feels the soul. Get out there, ride.