I am an idiot when it comes to maintaining my modes of transportation, and my bicycle is no exception.
My everyday/running errands/doing-whatnot bike is a Schwinn Voyageur. It's a "comfort bike", which basically means it's an entry-level bike for those who don't want to spend thousands of dollars on some mega-lightweight carbon dealie that one can lift with their pinky finger. "Serious" bicyclists don't ride comfort bikes, but I like my bike because it's...well...comfortable.
I've ridden that damn thing in downtown LA, Little Tokyo, Historic Filipinotown, Torrance, El Segundo, Malibu, Santa Monica, Palms, Venice, Culver City, Century City, Beverly Hills...I've been all over the place on it except where I have to cross mountains...so no Valley riding for me.
That bike is getting beat to shit in the process, and I'm kinda proud of that. It ain't a pretty bike, but it's a bike that's getting ridden, for fuck's sake.
Last year I noticed that the rear wheel was kinda crooked. Not enough to stop me from riding it, though. So I neglected to get the wheel unbent, with the crazy idea that whatever rock or pothole or whatnot that bent the wheel to begin with might hit the wheel on the other side and kinda straighten it back out.
That was not to be.
The wheel kept getting more and more crooked. Every time I rode the bike, the wheel would make a soft, subtle, yet unmistakable whump-whump-whump sound as I rode along. Crap.
The crooked wheel started to affect what I put in the handy-dandy folding baskets I have on the rear of the bike. Going shopping was becoming a balancing act, as the grocery bags were putting added stress on the back wheel, throwing the weight distribution off.
Then there was my endurance. For the past couple of months I've been bitching about my lack of endurance. That wasn't entirely true. The rear wheel was becoming more and more warped, which made pedalling harder, which wore me out faster. I couldn't go up hills like I used to. I couldn't go down hills like I used to, as the rear wheel would throw my weight off and I was afraid I'd get thrown off the damn bike.
The Dear Husband didn't mind my semi-warped bike, as it slowed me down enough to make him look like a speedy badass in comparison whenever we were both on bicycles.
But finally I had enough and wobbled over to the bike shop where I bought my poor abused bike two years ago to see what needed to be done to fix the damned thing.
I roll into the service area and spin the rear wheel for the service dude. He frowns, inspects the wheel, and tests the spokes in the particularly bent part of the wheel. An already-loose spoke pops out, taking a piece of the wheel rim with it. Which means that now I need a whole new wheel. Dammit.
The service dude searches around the shop for a replacement wheel. They don't have one in stock. WTF?! They don't have a damn SCHWINN wheel in stock?! It's not as if I have an exotic, hard-to-find bike, here. IT'S A FUCKING SCHWINN. Everyone and their damn dog should have that in stock, shouldn't they?!!?!?!?!?
No, they have to special order a new wheel. DAMMIT.
I'm told to go up to the front counter to order said wheel. I do. The guy behind the counter is surly. And stupid. I have to repeat what I want/need about 5 times before the information registers in his big block head and he goes to look it up in their catalog.
He still can't figure out what I need(I sure as shit don't know; just replace the stock fucking wheel, morans!)and has to ask 3 different people what to order. When he finally finds the wheel, it apparently only comes in flat black. My current wheels are flat silver. He asks me if that's OK. I just glare back at him. He searches further(with the same 3 people helping him) to no avail, so when the wheel comes in, my bike will be mismatched. It took about 30 minutes just to write the special order, and they told me it would take 5-10 business days to get the new wheel in. DAMMIT!!!!
So I cautiously rode my poor, still-broken bike home to wait until the new wheel comes in. Which I hope is sooner than later.
Since then, I haven't been biking much, as I don't want to ride the broken bike. The other bike, a super-fun Raleigh beach cruiser, doesn't have the extra-thick innertubes and tube lining that the Schwinn has to help prevent flat tires. It also used to have a problem with the gear cable popping out of its casing, which caused slack and the chain would pop off the front derailleur. ANNOYING. That problem has apparently been fixed, though I still fear that it'll happen again occasionally.
Today I had to run errands, so I took the Raleigh.
Goddam, it was fun. And fast compared to my regular bike.
I'm not quite as unhealthy as I thought I was!