Friday, May 9, 2008

Baking


In my years, I’ve known a number of women who liked to bake. Nay, loved to bake. They did it as a way to pass time, to dote on loved ones, to find peace. While I could never deny the magic that came of the result, what I saw in the process was a mess that required extraordinary amounts of cleanup. As a one-pan sort of cook, the array of mixing bowls and cooking tins one session could dirty always made me question the effort required in the endeavor.

Recently, I saw the movie “Waitress”—twice actually—and I realized that I’m a baker of sorts as well. In the movie we hear the main character, Jenna, played by Keri Russell, discuss her love of pie making in an interior dialog. Some of the points the movie’s writer and director (the tragically deceased Adrienne Shelly) touched on—the peaceful meditative state she reaches, the solitude, the love of the process—are all things I love about working on bicycles.

I’ve loved the bicycle as a machine since the days of the Tourney derailleur. I couldn’t resist the urge to work on my first bicycle even before I knew how it functioned. Fortunately, I didn’t kill the headset when my chopper bars got twisted and I used channel locks on the adjustable cup to make an adjustment.

I’ve learned a thing or two about working on bikes since, thank heaven. I haven’t relied on my ability to work on bikes to bring the cash in for nearly 15 years, but I still do all my own bike work. The work takes longer now, as I suppose baking a cake does for the home baker as opposed to the PRO. My slower pace has done nothing to lessen my love of working on a bike.

My preferred time to do it is Saturday afternoon following a shower and lunch. Unlike Radio Freddy’s precision-timed bike wash routine, when I get to the garage, I treat the excursion as a process of discovery. I’m always aware of a few items to complete, but I take my time about my work and don’t mind taking some extra time for an inspection to see what else turns up.

Working on my significant other’s bicycle is a win-win to me. I get to work on a bike (fun) and then be thanked for doing something sweet (even better). Imagine having your SO tell you to go play video games. Could it really get better? As a guy with all the charming romance of an oil change, bike work is a way for me to distinguish my greater efforts from a day’s mundane tasks.

With my iPod playing a collection of B-sides, I can tune out the rest of the world, feel the heft of the wrench in my hand, watch the swing of the derailleurs, and rewrap the bar as many times as I want until each the tape follows each contour and turn. With each turn of the wrench I’m paying respect to the sport, to my safety, to my sanity: We all need time to feel at peace without the burden of a timetable.

Image courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures.

7 comments:

oldFonzie said...

Agreed. It's been a few years since I've raised a wrench in profit... but I really enjoy working the local bike rodeo and also hold free bike fix days at work during lunch to encourage cycling.

I probably fix around two hundred bikes a year pro bono. It's a great way to keep your skills sharp and to encourage others to ride.

Lemon said...

Gents,

I just recently discovered BKW and boy has my life been enriched! Love this blog. I feel you! I have been reading everything on here. I must have sent the link to half a dozen friends.

The 1994 Ronde Van Vlaanderen recap is fantastic. I clicked the link to Zonebaby with high hopes to read more from this chap, but it appears that the blog is by invite only. Any chance of getting hooked into this?

gewilli said...

Amen brother...

Amen!

Anonymous said...

Second on the SO bike maintenance thoughts. As "head mechanic" for my fiance's burgeouning tri career, there's nothing sweeter than returning from the basement with a perfectly tuned and cleaned speed machine. It's the best part of the race experience for me.

resty said...

The best account yet working on one's bike I think is Robert Pirzig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Although it's about motor bikes, I'm sure as cyclists we can relate to it to a certain degree.

bikesgonewild said...

...re: "win-win"...

...& then she gives you pie...

Matt said...

I would read your blog on baking right after I burned the loaf of banana bread we were planning to have for breakfast.