Sep 29, 2005

Zen Ain't Got Nothing On Me

"I solemnly swear that I am up to motorcycle maintenance."

Actually, I WAS up to motorcycle maintenance. Yesterday afternoon, after work. It's funny how things work out sometimes.

I'm sure at least some of you remember the nightmare that was my last maintenance effort. Herculean, to say the least, and Hobbisan (which is to say full of "brutishness and misery") to boot. Well, this one was different.

It started with my brother of all people, driving up. He stopped and chatted for a while, as I slowly spun the back tire and, using kerosene and a nylon bristle brush, cleaned the accrued road goo off the chain. When I had finished he rolled the tire a little way and pointed out a shiny point, level with the surface of the tire.

Now, if you've ever found a shiny point in your tire, you know not to pull it out, because chances are very high that it's a nail that is stuck in there, and it's punctured the tire, but heat and the rubber have made a seal around that nail, so that when you pull out it's eleven inch steel self you'll hear a sudden loud, prolonged "hiss" and then you've got a flat.

I foresaw this result because I've done it myself.

He gave me That Look.

He's done it himself, too.

I said "Just pull it, if it's a nail I can't be riding on it anyway. Not safe at all."

He picked and dug a bit, and out popped...a tiny splinter of rock. No hiss, no flat. Astounding. Enlivened by this bit of luck, I sprayed the chain down well with synthetic Honda Pro lubricant and set about tightening the chain, which this time, even with the Honda Special Tool involved, was painless. This time the difference was that I loosened the pinch bolt until it was ready to fall out, and that seemed to do it. The Special Tool fit well, the little extra handle for it fit like it had been designed that way, and I found out that one way loosens things, the other tightens. I tightened, retightened the pinch bolt, and I was ready to air the tires up properly, which I could tell they weren't.

I spent most of the day yesterday telling Adrenaline Junkie about bikes. He knows that all he has to do is ask me a single question about bikes in general and it's like setting off an all-day clock: I'll talk until quitting time. And he did just that yesterday, to stave off his own boredom. And part of what I told him was that Miranda was long overdue to have her tires topped off again, because she was getting a sort of wandering feeling when I pushed too hard into curves. That helped remind me when I got home that it still needed doing, and that Miranda was not going to roll herself over there and take care of that for me.

So, I rolled. Got the air compressor going, found my tire gauge, and got to work. Now, keep in mind that the part of my shed where the air compressor rests is, shall we say, open air. My boat sits in there, and the old paint cabinet, and so does a lot of bare earth, which the storm turned to mud. I balanced Miranda's kickstand on a sheet of steel I have lying there for just that sort of purpose, and went for the air hose.

Now ordinarily, this is the opportunity for Murphy to get me. I make a mis-step, or put a foot down on just the bit of steel sheeting that will bump up just wrong, thereby propelling the bike onto the ground, or I bump the gate in just such a way that it swings into the kickstand, thereby depositing my dear lovely and not entirely paid for bike onto the hard, cold earth.

Not so.

I was acutely aware that it was going to happen, and being so acutely aware, nothing happened. At all. She stayed as solid as if she had four wheels. I aired the tires without trouble, to their recommended 42 psi, and I capped them. Simple as that. Hopped back on her, and drove her back to the garage, where I parked her. She didn't fall, a meteor didn't strike us both dead. I didn't even have an unfortunate run-in with a mad hornet. Nothing.

Unheard of. Easy, painless. Marvelous. The way it's supposed to be.

"Maintenance managed."


jomama said...

You're gonna be better than Robert Pirsig.

Irrelephant said...

Ah, but I don't have any desire to go driving across country on an asthmatic single-cylinder bike. *s* I do, however, have to write. And write. And write some more.