Saturday, August 26, 2006
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She was gone longer than usual on her bike ride with Rocky.
I was becoming a little concerned when she finally walked through the door.
“My bike has a flat!” she said.
“I was on the logging road and BAM! it just exploded!”
Sure enough, the side of the tire had popped. The front tire had cracks running along its white wall as well.
“Don’t worry about it, I’ll get it fixed.”
She fretted a little...
“It’s probably going to cost a bunch and I love that old bike.”
“It’ll be OK. Don’t worry.”
The guys at the bike shop said it would be a couple of weeks before they could get around to fixing it. It was a simple new tubes, new tires job, so I bought what I needed.
When I was in middle and high school I used to fish old abandoned bikes out of drainage ditches and rivers and cart them home so I could cobble together my own bikes. My kids never seemed to get into that sort of thing on their own, so this would be a chance for me to teach them a little bike mechanizing.
I gathered them into the front yard beside the bike and explained what we were going to do.
“Mommy loves this old bike and it needs some help. It has a flat tire, and the front one doesn’t look so good. So let’s take it apart and see what we can do!”
They liked the idea.
So we flipped it over and I helped them find the right wrenches.
I explained about rust and Naval Jelly and they went to work cleaning the wheels.
I told them about the bikes I put together when I was their age. I told them an important skill for a man is the ability to figure things out... just diving in and figuring it out.
“What do you think about this back wheel?” I asked Isaac.
He looked it over, trying to guess what I was hoping for.
“Good,” he said.
“Turn this axle. Do you feel the way that when it turns it feels like there is grit or sand in it?”
He turned it tentatively.
I smiled a little. He couldn’t tell, but he wanted his dad to think he knew what was going on, that he was a good learner.
“Mommy rides this bike on dirt and gravel roads when she takes Rocky out for a run. Some of that dirt and grit can get into the axle and it kind of slows things down.
“Let’s take this axle apart and repack the grease. Then you can see how it works, OK?”
Soon I had all sorts of pieces of bicycle innards laid across the sheet of plywood, cleaning off the old grease, explaining what each part does, slathering fresh grease on them again.
“What are those again?”
“Those are bearings. When you carry something you could say that you are bearing it. To bear something means to carry a load. These little balls spin around and make things around them turn easily, while they bear the weight of the bicycle. That’s why we call them bearings. They are round so everything can turn and they bear weight.”
Getting it all back together was trickier. I always did have trouble handling the axle and the inner braking mechanisms, but things slowly returned to their positions.
I showed them how to get the new inner tubes and tires onto the wheels, carefully explaining how this is where it is easy to poke a hole in the tube.
They filled them with air, checking them carefully, repeatedly, with the pressure gauge until each tire had the recommended amount of air.
They were pretty proud of that accomplishment.
They flipped the bike upright.
“I better test it! I don’t want anything rubbing or falling off when Mommy rides it!”
“Let’s go get Mommy!”
We stood around grinning as she tried it out.
“How’s it work?” we asked.
She said that it worked like brand new, that it was easy to peddle and was perfectly balanced.
It was just a little time with my boys... a summer afternoon messing with wrenches and grease and such.
And though I cannot seem to clearly, easily, make a connection in this little tale to things of the spirit, to things eternal and right and good... I somehow feel it is so.