From My Gearbox with Love

When I set out on this adventure last march, I knew I was going to learn a lot. I didn’t know that the greatest of all lessons would come from my gearbox.
Chris and I spend a minimum of three hours a week maintaining our bikes. We check them every day we ride, tightening bolts or throwing a few drops of lube on the chain. But at least once a week we give them a full tune up.
We start by cleaning. Not just the parts that move—the whole bike. We brush off the mudflaps and polish the frame. Then we go to work on the gears and derailer, scraping between the disks and attacking corners with a wet toothbrush. We scrub until our wrists hurt, though I have to get up every so often to walk a cramp out of my sore legs. We attack with ferocity and focus- last Monday we spent almost a half hour scrubbing our chains link by link with toilet paper. Chris has even been known to wipe his wheels, a discipline in the face of futility that I all but worship.
When the bike is clean enough that it doesn’t leave dirt on a finger, we lubricate the parts. Every one of them that moves. Heavy oil on the derailer and its two tiny gears, light oil on the chain. They gleam a smile back at us, and squeaks are quieted into a mechanical hum of appreciation as we crank upturned pedals with our hands. We check the range on our gears, making sure the metal parts line up exactly over the desired part of the gearbox.
We watch the chain go between the gears, listening. The cable tension goes up ever slightly, the chain jumps. It goes down even less, and the teeth grip the chain perfectly.
At eight hours a day on the bike, small differences amplify to huge problems. A seat that’s a quarter inch too far back can lead ot stress at the bottom of the back. A squeaky gear means extra resistance that will, over the course of several days, cost you an hour on the road.
So no imperfection is accepted. When I’m playing with things, I’ll adjust my bike four, five times a day. When I had some resistance in my derailer, I took apart the small gear that aligns the chain so it could be washed and re-greased.
What my gearbox has taught me is pride in my tools. They are the means by which I accomplish, and so they should be pampered as my vehicles to success. Without a clean gearbox, Postulate One would be a two kids lugging bikes around the world on buses so they could get to the next bikeshop.
My gearbox has taught me a new kind of discipline, and a respect for the tools that I rely on. It’s an attention to detail and pride that I will apply to other parts of my life.

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2 Responses to From My Gearbox with Love

  1. Tomas says:

    Its raining outside, I think I’ll tune up my bike now.
    Great read. Thanks for sharing Morgan!

  2. Leigh Langtree says:

    Well written and so true. Wouldn’t it be great if we took that kind of care of our bodies – our vehicle used in some way for all movement and communication here on earth for each lifespan. Enjoying all your thoughts. Love, G-ma

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