Mittwoch, 22. Juni 2016

Where there´s a will, there´s a way - and a fond thankyou to a load of friends

 I wrote about my mishap recently. It was all my fault, really, of course. Of course, I could not afford a new frame. I had my phases, of course. At first, it was resignation. My bike stood in my attic for three days. I had called Dennis from Metal Motion Bikes, and he agreed to do the best he could for me. Which in this case was roundabout 200€ for a new frame or yeah... something else;-). People from the Bike industry may know this as JRAs (just riding alongs). I did not want this, because I have sworn to stick to the truth as best as I can. So call me naïve, but no new frame for me. He then tried to get a new derailleur hanger for my old Orange frame, with no effect. Oh, I was like, fuck it all, life sucks, and got furious. The bike industry is playing havoc with people, as does just about any industry at the moment, but in this case their so-called innovations are often frankly absurd. We talked about one corporation currently developing 36"-wheels, and no, you read right, it´s not a typo meaning 26". What´s next? Back to Penny Farthings? Of course, this will be tauted "the" next big thing. In an article in a bike magazine however I recently read at the railway station the editor rode a bike equipped with 26" wheels and raved about it and prophesized that this will be all the new rage next year. I can tell you, I was laughing so hard I nearly rolled on the floor. What´s becoming of all the 29" hype? Going with the wind soon, I´d say.

But all this makes me furious. It´s all a waste of resources, and we can´t afford to waste our resources any more. And my fury gave me a valuable insight, and you might laugh at me, and you are rightly doing so, for it is that simple.

I am a smith. Smiths have made this world. It was blacksmiths that made the first bicycles. Why the f*** do I think I cannot at least try to repair my frame?

So I started to think. The seattube cracked above the weld. The weld as a presumeably weak spot came out okay, and part of the tube was still attached. The aluminium used in the frame has a tensile strength of roundabout 370 N/mm². The epoxy glue I use for my knife handles has roundabout 180 N/mm² of tensile strength. If I fit in a tube with a hole for tension release and a clamp slot identical to the slot in the seat tube and use an expanding broach for reaming the inner diameter to fit a smaller-diameter seatpost, which by coincidence lay on my shelf doing nothing, that should do the trick... but where to get a tube? I almost laughed, the solution was that simple: From an old seat post I hacksawed off the clamp, which was broken anyway, drilled a tension release hole, sawed the slot and filed it to fit. Since I have no seat tube reamer I went to Dennis´shop. Felix, the mechanic was so kind as to do the job and making some more valuable suggestions-for free. Back home, I glued the tube in with epoxy and used glass fibre mat and epoxy  to wrap the seat tube. I think I´ll add another layer, just for safety, then I´ll paint it black and it´ll be almost like new.

 Yeah, I am a bit proud of my achievement. But as Leo mentioned in the comment form of the recent post, it is more than that. I have this anxiety riding on my shoulder (pun intended) constantly, and being able to find a solution for this sort of damage relieved me of it, and I want to share this with you. For I thought about something my father told me once. In WWII Germany was short of resources. He had a bicycle then, which he absolutely loved, and since he grew up on the countryside there was no such thing as roads. As a kid, he and his friends even built ramps to launch off, and coincidentally;-), he broke his cranks. He was a madman sometimes, and I can vividly imagine how the ramps looked like they took off from. Must have been the like where the challenge was to be faster downhill than the ramp and to survive the kicker... ;-) His father gave him a right whacking, of course, and showed him how to weld them back together the following day.

Another story was that he got some wooden skis for Chrismas one year... he built a ramp with his friends and broke off the tips of the skis the next day. So no skis. What to do? He simply cut some wood and built his own. They were not straight, and the tips sometimes got stuck in the snow, for he hadn´t been able to bend them properly, but they did the job, and he loved them. The next skis he bought himself in the 60´s.

What I want to say is, In "them days" people were not anxious about their material. They cared about it, of course, but it was not a matter of life and death, because they new they could come up with a solution. They did not think digitally, but looked astray from the beaten path for solutions. There were more answers than "1" or "0" or permutations thereof. You had friends and family and made do, even under circumstances that  were not ideal. It was not the bike that made the man, but the man that made the bike (or the skis).

I have learned a lot by this mishap. I still would like it had rather not happened. But it had. My repair is certainly not state-of-the art, and might even fail some day soon, but it felt empowering to again get out into the woods by my own devices.

 The rest is almost customary: Alongside murmuring creeks, up some fireroads and down some challenging singletrails I rode, smug and content with my hearing no creaking.
 The weather was not exactly at its best, and I was soon caked with mud, but grinning widely the whole time. Down a challenging singletrail I realized I need to really do more technical riding again, for my lines were shitty and incoherent, and I even nearly stacked up big style once....
 ...but it is moments like these that make it all worth it. Even clawing together my last bits and pennies to get out there is worth it.
And it is a metaphor. For life. Life sucks sometimes, yeah, that´s true. But moments like these make up for it. All in all, for every hardship, there are moments of greatness, of joy, of pleasure and contemplation, of beauty and peace. Not as a reward, and strewn away in a pattern that is incomprehensible to us mere mortals most of the time. But there IS a pattern to it...

For I was in for one last surprise. And I have to apologize to a friend. In the last years I had the impression that Moritz was a bit superfluous and chance is, he actually is. He is a different sort of human being, at least compared to my own life, and that sometimes leads to misconceptions. Yeah, I enjoy talking to something less grave and just chatting away about bikes and girls and drink and whatnot, but since I often have to think very grave thoughts and have to carry a lot of responsibilities (all my fault, really), I did not think much of his reliability. What arrogance on my part! When he learned I was without a bike and he told some tall stories about how he would organize something I therefore did not think much of it.

When I returned from a cool ride with a good coffee at the trailhead café, and unlocked the door...

... there was a derailleur hanger for a 2011 Orange Crush sitting on my mat. It was put there by Moritz, who had managed to achieve the impossible. This gives him much credit as a bike mechanic (he works for Reuber bike shop in Dortmund), but more so as a human being.

I also want to acknowledge Henning, who is a smith with Ahlhauser Hammer and who offered me his own bike as a bailout spontaneously after reading about it on my blog. In general, the offers of help and the kind words I got from my friends and readers was overwhelming.

And this is what remains to be said in this post: Those are things that count.

It may sound a bit far-fetched, but: For most humans life is a shitty place these days. Some few foul up the lives of so many at the moment. Many people suffer, and are far worse off than just having a tiny crack in their bike frame. People are hopeless, homeless, depressed, disoriented and desperately seeking for values. There is a lot more to be fixed than just a bicycle frame. What one person can do just so much. And sometimes fixing a bike frame can help you understand bigger things.

And, as strange as it may seem, the simple things remain untouched. Friendship. Love. Trying your best and hoping for the best.

And as long as these things exist, there will always be hope. We can still make it work.

Thank you, my friends, for you have given me more than just repairing a bike.

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