Monday, November 10, 2008

The Zen of Bicycle Maintenance

There's not actually any zen-ness to bicycle maintenance. As I understand Zen, zen is not to be understood, and just because something leaves you feeling all mellow and serene, doesn't mean you or it are zen in any way. This is just another example of how willing we are to pluck something from another culture we don't understand and project our hair-brained ideas all over it.

Having said all that, I cleaned my bike yesterday, and I was shocked at how the five-minute wipe down I'd intended to give it turned effortlessly into an hour of minute dirt removal and lubrication. The bicycle, for all its perfection, still leaves a lot to be desired in terms of the exposure it gives greasy, metal, moving parts to sand and grit. I sometimes wonder if it would be easier to clean my route to work, rather than the vehicle that takes me there.

Smoothness and quietness and speed. Every dirty rag I make leaves me feeling smoother and quieter and speedier. My shop, in the basement, is brightly lit and only allows muffled sounds from the mayhem above. My kids hurling the couch cushions, terrorizing the dog, the TV singing the most horrible, syrupy sweet songs as puppets cavort and careen across the screen.

It's a dirty sanctuary. Frames and forks hang from the ceiling. Tools rest in all the wrong places. But I have citrus hand cleaner, and I'm comfortable there.

And miles to go before I sleep...

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