I have one real talent in life. I wish it were a marketable skill. Give me any object, any system, and I can break it.
…I’ve been getting more and more into bicycle repair over the last year. No gasoline to explode. No electricity to knock me out. There’s something appealing about simple mechanics with infinite variety, about human hearts and muscles acting as engines. In a world that doesn’t make a lot of sense a lot of the time, I’ll take whatever I can, even if it’s Newtonian physics, brakes and cables, or a great new Shang-A-Lang song ringing in my head long after the album’s finished.
…Highland Park, the Los Angeles neighborhood I live in, is wrinkly. From above it looks like a blanket over some pretty big lumps… Several months ago, with the help from the Bike Oven, a local bike co-op, and advice from Charles, my dad’s friend who helps keep my dad out of trouble and on the road — I geared my bike for the hills. I didn’t rush the job. I made sure all the parts were compatible. It took a couple of months to get everything exact. Short test runs. Minor adjustments. No forcing of parts.
On Saturday I rode up hill after hill. The bike ran well. I’d learned something new and I was riding around on this new information. I could see downtown L.A. from up above.
On the following Monday, I heard the smallest of pings. I knew it couldn’t be good.
My rear derailler had pretzeled around my rear gears and snapped my frame. At the time I only suspected how bad it was. Two weeks of investigation later, I learned that I had “perfect stormed” my bike past its twenty-year-old frame’s capability. I’d done nothing wrong. I’d just superseded its design. I just have that knack.
Hands greasy, mind trying to figure out if I could ride home on one gear, hunched over to several inches off the ground, angry at myself for not bringing any tools, a man walked up to me.
“Hey you got a lighter?”
I flared my blackened hands out to him, looked at him, and said, “I’m having a very bad day.”
A couple months passed.
I learned a whole bunch mor about bike repair, dealt with the grief of a good idea snapping, and resuscitated an older frame, part by part.
Yesterday, I started back on those hills.
–Todd Taylor, in the punk magazine Razorcake