The Anti-Tune Up

Several weeks ago, I took my bike into the Trek store to get it tuned up, mostly just because it hadn’t been in for awhile and I was riding it more often than usual.

However, the tune up wasn’t so much a tune up as it was a fuck up.

When I got it back and tried to ride it to the shuttle in Hillcrest the next day, I could hear the front brake rubbing up against the front wheel when I pedaled. Needless to say, the ride sucked that day, since constant friction significantly dissipates kinetic energy and forward momentum (whoa, physics speak).

That problem was fixed quickly because I had to take my bike into the bike shop on campus to get my registration renewed. While I was there, an employee kindly fixed the brakes.

But another problem took a little longer to show up. Apparently they had also misaligned the gears (I have no idea if this is the correct terminology or not), so that downshifting was now a problem. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it worked eventually, and sometimes I had to shift back up and then down again to get it to work. But it was a problem that I learned to deal with, and it hadn’t really caused that much harm, so I saw no reason to get it fixed.

Until today.

Which, coincidentally, was also the day that I decided to be a complete space cadet – very uncharacteristic of me – and leave my bike helmet on the shuttle on my way home from work.

I realized this about 5 blocks from the shuttle, and then shrugged it off, figuring I needed a new one anyway, and continued on my way home. Now, the highlight of my day is flying down that hill between Park Blvd and Florida St, and today I stopped at the top of it, waiting for the light at the bottom to turn green before barreling down. I was in my highest gear by the time I hit the bottom of it, and I coasted most of the way up to the light at the top of Mississippi St.

As soon as I got to the light, which had been red, it turned green, so I started pedaling again, but since I was in my highest gear, this was a little hard. I downshifted and nothing happened. Just as I was about to shift up and try again, the gears suddenly and violently shifted.

Thankfully I was standing up on my bike and pedaling at the time, otherwise I might have gone headfirst over the handlebars – with no helmet. As it was, both of my feet slipped forward off of their respective pedals to the ground, the right upper gearshift took a chuck out of the knuckle on my right index finger, and my right hip bone slammed into the right lower gearshift. Probably the best possible outcome, but it still left me a little shook up, and I’ll probably have a sweet bruise on my hip to remind me of it.

The rest of the ride home was uneventful, but tomorrow? That bike’s going back to the shop. And me? I’m getting a new helmet.