Love And Pain: The Abusive Relationship Between Biker and Bike (as seen by a beginner)

I have to preface this entire article with a confession: I am new to the bike scene, but not new to the mountain scene. After almost 10 years living in Downhill Mecca (read: Whistler), I bought a decent  secondhand bike, a 2010 Giant STP. Prior to this, I had the run-of-the-mill, Canadian Tire special that I didn’t realize I hated until I got the new one.

I adore busting around town on it – heading to the lake takes 10 minutes, and a 15 minute walk becomes a 5 minute ride. That means one more Snooze before work. It’s almost like I’m 9 years old again, before smartphones and the Internet, where finding out where your friend was meant spotting their “rig” outside a kid’s house. Probably getting coerced by their mom to go outside instead of sitting in the basement playing Super Nintendo. It’s so hot out there, Mom!

Then: tragedy. My bike decided to cannibalise itself: the hanger broke, pulling the rear derailleur into the rear wheel, locking everything. It’s pretty humiliating having to carry what appears to be a perfectly good bike. Thankfully I was cruising to check the mail and not midway down a trail of some sort, or it would have been utter chaos.

So now I’m sitting here, looking at my up-ended bike that’s taking up the lion’s share of my living room space, wondering how many times this will happen over the course of my life, let alone this beast’s. $30 here, $100 there, fixing, replacing, tweaking, the machine slowly moving up my list of priorities. It won’t be long before it’s right underneath “rent”.

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Down in front!

Why do we do this to ourselves? I’ve only had this thing a month, and it’s a responsibility – not quite a child, but maybe a pet. We have some great times, and just as we’re getting the hang of something, a piece crumbles, snaps, pings or deflates. (This isn’t even counting when you’re bucked from the saddle and sustaining your own bodily snaps and pings.) Logically, I should take up golf, or chess. If I lose a pawn, I can replace it with a salt shaker. Maybe it’s the combination of summer and speed, but I can see myself spending a lot of time and money just running this bike into the ground.

It’s not like a car – sure, people love them all the same, but there’s no connection. A motorized vehicle can run and move without a person in the driver’s seat, as any physical comedy movie will show, but a bike just falls over without two legs powering the gears. That need is reciprocated by the need to ride – to go faster, to jump bigger, and to sweat harder. Coupled with a love of getting dirty and greasy (ladies) from fixing The Beast, and it’s a match made in Mecca.