Procrastination and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance

Like many, I have a tendency to procrastinate on some things. Sometime to the point of never actually completing them. I’m not sure how this works in my innards. There doesn’t really seem to be a rhyme or reason. Sometimes these can be small things, and other times the can be very important things. Sometimes these are things that really need to be done, but I just don’t do them. And then I seem to get external from this process, and end up watching myself not doing these things and wondering, “What’s the hell is up with this guy?”

One of these procrastination phenomena is my “new” bike. Maybe if I write about this I can explore the process a bit and learn something. Then again, I could stop at any point and this will not leave my laptop.

The bike in question is a Redline Monocog Flight 29er. I should first clarify that it is not actually new – it’s a 2007 model. I’ve had the bike for over three years and have hardly ridden it. I purchased this bike to replace the bike I had at the time: a Univega mountain bike. It had an aluminum, hard-tail frame and a near antique RockShox fork. The bike was originally built by a friend’s dad, who had worked for a bike shop or something like that, but had hardly used the bike. (We can see that this procrastination might be a common affliction.) I purchased the Univega in the mid-90s for $700 and had ridden the hell out of it. It was a fantastic bike.

However, things were changing in my life, and I was mountain biking less and less, and I felt that I needed a change to fit a future lifestyle. After many, many months of research I had chosen the Monocog. I wanted a simple, single-speed bike (not a fixie), with the larger 29″ wheel. I had then fine-tuned to the exact model I wanted based on the color. Color is a big deciding factor. In my mind I already had a vision of what I wanted. I could see it. I wanted a classic British green machine trimmed out in brown.

After a few weeks of hunting, I found the exact model I wanted. The Monocog can be either purchased as a complete bike, or as a frame/fork combo. The bike that I found was built from the frame/fork option at a bike shop in Colorado and was selling for $800. It had a more high-end setup than the stock model. Most notably it had hydraulic disc brakes. They were WAY more complicated then I wanted, but I could work around them. I received the bike around wintertime because I remember there was snow on the ground. I put the bike together as fast as I could when it arrived and took it for a spin. It felt awesome! There was a complete Zen of having one gear, and just peddling and going. It was like a giant BMX that Buddha himself had made for me. There was one little problem, though, and it seemed to be the rear disc brake was rubbing and the friction was making a sound and putting up a bit of a resistance to ride. Over a few months I attempted to make adjustments, but nothing worked. Because of this, I didn’t ride the bike at all during this period. However, whenever I had an inkling for a spin, I would take a look at it, tinker around, and not have made any difference. This routine was reaffirming my not-riding status.

I had saved some of the packing materials that had come with the bike, and even had looked through them a time or two and didn’t turn anything up. However, I gave it one more go, and I found a weird plastic disc under a flap in the box. Lo and behold it was a spacer that went on the hub! When I put it on and put the wheel back in the dropouts—PRESTO!—the disc brake worked perfectly. I was back in business, baby!

Not necessarily for riding, but for starting the bike’s transformation process that I had been fantasizing about. The first step I thought was to order some snazzy finders. I had put in hours of research and decided on finders, and not just any finders mind you, but Woody’s Custom Wood Bicycle Fenders. Their pricing was actually very reasonable at around $100 considering they were wood, handmade in the US, and had a sweet racing stripe design. I provided my bike specs to Woody’s and ordered my fenders. They arrived promptly, and were beautiful. They looked super hot with the green of the frame/fork set. However, when I started to look at how they were to attach I realized that the minimal design of frame/fork did not have any of the usual holes and attachment areas for traditional brakes, so the fenders could not be attached.

To speed the process of this story up, for the next approximately three years I would take the fenders out of the box they came in and hold them up to the frame and try and figure things out. I would then come to the conclusion that they would not fit, put them back in the box, and end up not riding the bike. However, I have recently made tremendous medical headway on the bike!

I will continue the story of the dream bike build in future posts, but I think I would first like to reflect on what I have possibly learned about myself over the past three years. There appears to be a random lottery of things that I would like to do, and get done, and other things that develop a tension within myself to complete them AND not complete them. Over time this tension manifests itself into a game of chicken. I know that I have to do this thing, but I am also content at not doing this thing. Over time this cyclic thought is reinforced because in my mind I can picture the task complete. This would be nearly the same memory if I had completed it, so my mind fells like, “Hey, we can picture it, so it’s as good as done for us.” There is probably a process of admission to the fact that one of these procrastination moments is coming on, and then attack it and nip it in the bud. Perhaps a sign of what I’m procrastinating on would create reinforcement and a public shaming. Maybe just admitting that we have the ability to do, or not do, tasks at our own choosing. Either way the sun will rise and nothing catastrophic will happen. Perhaps a little dialog between the Angel Frank and myself should be in order instead of letting the Devil Frank make the decision. Anywho, I’ll choose ponder this one some other time. 😉

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