Pico's Cycling - Tales of the Road is an online cycling magazine. It is intended for writers and riders who want to share their on the road cycling stories and pictures. Submissions that follow our guideline are gratefully appreciated. See the appropriate page in the site menu. Will publish the best of the best each month. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter @PicosCycling.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Not Mechanically Inclined

By Pico Triano
Photos Shawn Whitelaw

This was a label I picked up as a young boy growing up. I'm sure the fact that I was interested in so many other things contributed to the label but the fact that I had two older brothers who occupied the family garage most of the time had a lot more to do with it. They had no need for me in there. Besides if I had to do dishes and stuff like that inside not only was I out of their hair but they wouldn't have to do those kind of chores.

Most of the bikes we had at home were second hand or cobbled together from parts. I was not the mechanic that put them together or fixed them when they broke. The two of them at times seemed to take great pleasure in chewing me out for riding with something that had come loose. I remember being told off, when it was discovered that the headset on my bike was loose. I remember being told off for a damaged rear hub because the cones had loosened and I hadn't noticed. I was capable of figuring these things out, if someone had taken the time to tell me what to look for first.

I was teased about being wobbly as well. Can't you ride in a straight line? That didn't bother me though, my ability avoid crashing when important parts of the bike broke was impressive.

At eleven years old I delivered newspapers on my bike like both my older brothers had done. There was a shortcut between two customer, a path with a short stairway. Someone parked a picnic table at the bottom and my evasive manoeuvre was too much for my rusty handlebars. One side broke off at the stem. I did not fall.

My unsympathetic older brother replaced them with another junk pair that were lying around. The nut where you could adjust the angle of the handlebars was not quite tight and if you hit a bump or jerked on them they would change position. I'd taken enough abuse over things so I didn't ask them to fix it. I didn't think they would anyway.

One of them discovered the issue while taking a spin on my bike while I wasn't around. Instead of fixing the issue they decided to further torture me with it by oiling it. I could literally twirl the handlebars on the stem. I wiped away most of the oil but they moved very easily. Not wanting to give them satisfaction of having me whine to have it repaired, I rode it the way it was. My younger brother finally crashed it and broke those handlebars. My brothers got to explain the whole incident to my parents who ordered my older brother to fix it right.

I had one last handlebar clash. My regular ride broke down and I had to borrow a regular bike that my older brother had converted to a ten-speed. We are tall folk and my mechanically gifted brother made one mistake adjusting this bike. He put an extended seat post on it and adjusted the handlebars as high as they could possibly go – too high as it turned out. The wedge piece was right near the top edge of the fork tube. That broke while I was riding it. Fortunately I was on flat ground because all of a sudden the handlebars were no longer attached to the bike and using the calliper brakes was a suicidal proposition. I managed to coast to a stop. A temporary fix got me home. That particular brother was not very happy with me but he didn't want to give me credit for being able to twist that part of the bike apart with my bare hands.

 I got my comeuppance with the local cycling skills competition while I was a teenager. My brothers entered every year the fair came to town. I followed suit. I did one thing they never managed though. I won it.

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