If my bicycle were a kid, I’m very certain that someone would have reported me to the Department of Children and Families a long time ago.

Don’t get me wrong. My Felt is one of my most prized possessions since it is so perfectly tailored to my body and has helped me get to where I need to be in life, whether it be attending therapy sessions, reaching the pinnacle of my cycling career, or enjoying some of the best times with my family. However, I have the attention span of a chipmunk, and as soon as I get off the bike, I start thinking about something else. The muck and the filth crust over. Rust begins to form on the chain. In all seriousness, I give it a vigorous workout and then store it damp.

I’m such an ingrate.

The husband, who is always one to take initiative, said that because we were going to be gone for a week, it would be an ideal time to take the bikes into the shop for maintenance. Yes! Of course! Make it so! Then his Motobecane, my Felt, and Monkey Boy’s bike rode out into the distance.

Beginners Cycling Tips

I didn’t give it much attention until after we got back, when I was getting antsy to go for a ride. We were in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which has an incredible network of bike paths, and Pella, Iowa, which is where my sister resides. Both of these places are incredibly bikeable. It’s a wonderful location that, for the most part, has retained the appearance it had in the 1950s. Pella is a charming town with a charming central square, clean grass, and Dutch architecture that lends itself well to cycling. However, I was never given the opportunity to ride a horse.

When I arrived back to my house, I immediately went to get my reliable Felt, but all I had was my Gary Fisher Wahoo, which is also trustworthy but a lot heavier. I felt the desire to move quickly.

It was necessary for me to pick up the bikes since I am the member of the family that has the most adaptable schedule (I will be your Sugar Mama someday, Sweetie!). Everyone of them. We have what would be considered an anomalous bike rack in that it can hold all five of our bikes at once. Although it is more than a little bit tricky, I was able to get it on the truck by myself with just a little bit of cussing involved.


I sashayed into the bike shop, proud of my technical skills and can-do attitude and claimed my bikes. How much, I asked the cashier. Which were your bikes? Oh, yes. Three hundred (freaking) eight dollars, please.

Yes, it was for three bikes.

Yes, they did significant work on my bike, which dearly needed some TLC.

It still stung. I stood up a little straighter and handed over my credit card.

In that moment, logic completely failed me. I was stunned, as I always get when I have an unexpected expense over $100. The past year has been a series of financial dings — some large, some small — and for a couple of minutes, this felt like one more time where someone could reach into my bank account and just take what they wanted. I was supposed to be a good little girl who didn’t whine.

Take heart, bike wrenchers. This is not a rant against what you charge for the care and expertise you offer. It is a reminder for me to pull out of my funk and breathe. And wait for the ending, which has always surprised me.

You see, in spite of the financial roller coaster we’ve been on for the past year, the money has just worked out. No matter what drama my frantic calculations predicted, we’ve been able to cover the expenses that cropped up and have a bit of fun, too. Time after time after time.

When I finally got on my tuned-up bike for a date with my husband, I was grateful for every penny spent. The bike was so very clean. It shifted smoothly each time and pedaled like butter. It was a joy to ride.

So thank you, every one of you bike mechanics who worries over the details, checks all of the parts I can’t identify, and makes all of the little adjustments that make my rides pure joy.

Come to think of it, I should probably bring my bike shop buddies a few cookies and some cold beer. 

Thanks to Ecovelo for this great how-to on keeping bikes beautifully clean. Love his site.