Classes ended a week ago. Thanks to my ADHD and because I live far from every one of my friends, I find myself often looking for things to do around the house. This year it was bike restoration. No, not motorcycles, but bicycles (you know, the pedal and non-explosive kind).
I got on Craigslist and found a 1980 Raleigh [I guess it’s a good brand (?)]. It belonged to a kid who was “selling it for a friend” (isn’t that always how it is?). Anyways, I rode it around and inspected it, touching every bolt as if somehow would crumble under my fingers and tensed my face at every scratch.
He named his price, not knowing if it was fair or not I counter-offered half of it. He, thankfully, did not know what he was doing either so he agreed.
Upon realizing I’m no expert, I did what every rational (?) person would do and took the thing apart. If the thing was ever ride-able, it sure as hell wasn’t anymore.
Now, you may be thinking “well, just put it back together,” and I would have, except I REALLY took it apart.
Once reality hit in, I google “how to ACTUALLY restore a bike” and hit the “I’m Feeling Lucky.” Damn Google gives me this:
Instead of making an inventory of what actually worked or what parts needed to be replaced, I went out and spent all my money on paint, because, well, it would make the bike look cool.
After 2 weeks of sanding (Yay blisters!), doing one coat, recoating, messing up, starting over, changing color, and so on… it was ready.
If you’ve ever painted something you know the feeling of “gimme gimme” once the last coat is applied. You don’t care if it’s dry or not (what does the can know about “let dry for 3 years”) you painted it, so you know, right?
Because I tried to handle it when it wasn’t ready, the paint came out subpar.
Since it was expensive and time-consuming and all, the paint took pity on me and still came out pretty sweet.
But it didn’t stop there. I was so eager to show it off that I completely bypassed the fact that virtually everything had to be replaced and put it back together anyways.
Although beautiful, I learned the bike was not safe the hard way. The brake pads fell right before I reached an intersection. I tried to turn to the side and that’s when the handlebars gave up. Instincts kicked in and I put my foot down. That’s when the chain snapped and wrapped around my leg, stopping me instantly (thank God) and made me a scorpion on the pavement (oh God). Face first, of course (why God?).
As I walked back home with my face bowed down in defeat and waking up the whole neighborhood (it was 3am. I’m a night owl) with an unidentified squeak coming out of the bike… I looked back at what went wrong.
Was it that I bought a completely useless bike and swore I could fix it (when I couldn’t)?
Was it when I rushed into “fixing it” (having no idea what I was doing)?
Was it when I took the bike down, thinking the paint was ready (when it was still wet)?
Was it that I took the bike as “fixed” simply because it looked pretty (when it wasn’t)?
Or was it all of these things?