My “New” Bike

So, I’ve been getting ready for my summer vacation: a 354-mile bike trek to Albany, N.Y. (I know that’s an odd destination—I’m from there.) I’ve planned out the route, made note of all the hotels, bike shops, and Methodist churches along the way. And last weekend, I decided to go on a training ride: circumnavigating the District of Columbia, by driving along the roads that make up the borders of D.C.: Western Avenue, Eastern Avenue, and Southern Avenue.

But my planned training trip did not go as I’d hoped. The temperature was miserably hot and the late afternoon heat sapped most of my strength. And somewhere along Kenilworth Avenue, as I was looking for how to reconnect with Eastern Avenue, I broke a spoke on my rear wheel, causing it to wobble unhelpfully. This was the fifth spoke I’d broken this year—something I’d never even done once before. I was disheartened: would the summertime heat and my rear wheel’s spokes conspire to make my trip more difficult than I was already expecting it to be?

So, I took my bike in to The Bike Shop the next day. The owner there agreed that replacing the rear wheel with a heavy-duty wheel was in order. I told him of my planned trip, somewhat reluctantly. Especially since I half expected him to say, “You’re going 350 miles on that?” Kind of the way Princess Leia, upon first seeing the Millennium Falcon said, “You came here in that thing? You’re braver than I thought.” But he didn’t. Instead he said what a good bike I had and he promised me that they would replace the wheel (and anything else faulty) and tune it up to guarantee it was road worthy. In fact, he wrote “see Boss” on the ticket to ensure that his techs would check with him about any repairs.

I picked up the bike on Wednesday. The repairs had cost a fair amount more than I’d expected, but were still less than a new bike. But they were worth it. New tires front and back. New heavy-duty rear wheel, with a brand new gear cassette. New fenders (recommended to make biking in the rain that much easier). New front gear system (apparently the bearings inside the old one were shot, causing all manner of pedaling difficulty). It rides like a dream. It feels brand new, with a solid action on the pedals and smooth shifting on the gears. This bike is ready.

My ride is still a couple of days off. But my anxiety about whether my bike was up to the task is gone. I still have plenty of anxiety about whether I’m up to the task, but there’s only one way to find that out. And I’ll find out soon enough.