Wheeling and dealing ...

At one place in last week's story I said "I discovered tools that I hadn't even known I had!" This was after our new staff member had cleaned up the basement woodwork/storage room, uncovering all sorts of things in the process. Among the items he had to deal with during the re-organization were a couple of bicycles. One of these - a folding cycle in a canvas bag which I had won as a prize - was only a few years old and he and I cleaned it up a bit, assembled it, and made it ready for use. It is now parked out front, and is being used by people here to run errands.

The other bike he 'found', which I myself had been shuffling around from place to place in the storeroom because it was always getting in the way, wasn't so easy to deal with. It was much older and wasn't a type that could easily be pressed into service here, having a light and delicate frame and thin racing tires. When he asked me what he should do with it, I hemmed and hawed, and not being able to find it in me to tell him to prepare it for junking, prevaricated somewhat. He 'got the message' and set it aside behind some boxes, where it wouldn't be (too much) in his way.

From Lee-san's point of view, this bike is nothing more than a dusty pile of junk, but for me, it is of course an old friend. Under the dust is an expensive Kawamura frame matched with top-line Shimano hardware, and outfitted with wheels built on Araya rims. (It seems that Japanese makers were 'king' in those days!) If I were to spend a nice sunny day to take it apart, clean it all up thoroughly, and outfit it with new cables, brakes, handgrips, etc. it would be a beautiful machine again! This type of bike isn't so useful for the around-town shopping errands that I do, but out on the 'open road' - say, the highway leading from here up to Yamanashi, which streams with long-distance cyclists every weekend - it is a dream machine.

It was for that purpose that I bought it, back in 1978, and I hadn't owned it more than a couple of days before the 'stories' began to build up.

I took delivery from a cycle shop in downtown Toronto, putting it into the back seat of the car I then used in my capacity as branch manager of a school music supply company. Eager to try out my new 'toy', I drove to a local park which had a long cycle path, quickly reassembled it (the front wheel on such bikes quickly pops on and off for easy transportation like this), and enjoyed my first ride. Returning to the parking lot, I slipped the front wheel off again, put the bike back into the back seat of the car, and drove home.

Getting there, I took the bike out, discovering as I did so that there was no front wheel in the car anywhere. I had probably leaned it against the car when putting the frame into the back seat, and then forgotten it, simply driving away. I of course zoomed straight back to the park, but it was nowhere to be found. My beautiful new bike had lasted only about an hour.

I was far too embarrassed to go back to the bike shop to arrange for a replacement, and went to another more distant one. "I think I'd like to try a different sort of front wheel for my bike ... what do you have that would be suitable ..."

They probably get this all the time from people who have lost their wheels, or ridden over a concrete curb, but they were of course happy to sell me a new one, which I can report is still on the bike all these years later. I didn't repeat that mistake.

There are many interesting ways to mess up on a bike though, and perhaps next week I can (shamefully) admit to a few more ...


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