Monday, May 24, 2010

Summertime and black fingers

This long weekend has been ridiculously non-strenuous. Usually, given three days off and stunning weather, I would be all about trying to find someone who wanted to get out of town and go for a good long tough hike, or better yet, a day out at the crags on the escarpment. But I really didn't have time to plan anything, and aside from a very long backyard party on Saturday (I got home a little before dawn) I haven't really been summering it up the way I could have. And on Sunday I was dead tired from having been up till after 5 AM on Saturday, so I didn't accomplish much other than a ride out to Hog's Back to hang out at the beach for a while.

But I did manage to get up the will to take Mike out onto the balcony and do some cleaning - partly because I realized how flabby my tires were on the way out to Hog's Back. So I got him outside with the bike pump, a couple of rags and my tools.

You don't realize how much grutch a bike can accumulate until you really get in there, preferably with an old toothbrush, and start making clean spots. The gears were coated in, essentially, a thick slurry of oil and road grime that was indistinguishable from the black metal until you noticed it came off, if you scraped it, in ugly black chunks. It doesn't loosen up with water, so a damp cloth doesn't do much good, and it is fine enough to have worked its way into parts of the mechanism I really won't be able to get into without taking things apart. So I scrubbed off all the gears, front and back, wiped the chain down, got the bike as clean as I could, and I'll go back with some oil before I head out this afternoon. I don't know if it will make a difference to the bike at this point, but it certainly feels good, when I pass the bike standing in my entrance hallway, to see that I can actually see metal on the surface of the gears. It's satisfying.

And having greyish smudges on my forehead from where I brushed my hair out of the way, and having to wash bike grease off totally blackened fingers, is also satisfying. You know what I'm talking about, right? Nothing like a little righteous grime - that smudge of bike black on your jeans or on your arm - to make you feel like maybe it's summer after all.

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