Well, sort of. I’ve been neglecting my poor bike, which has responded by gradually limiting the number of gears it will change into with any sort of ease. Which is fair enough: I used to clean my bike as often as I changed my toothbrush, if only because an old toothbrush is the perfect implement for getting into all the grungy corners of the bike. That seemed about right to keep on top of the road gunk, along with chucking a bit of oil on the chain whenever the basket of kittens put in an appearance. But since the other half started working, and taking the car away all day, I’ve gone from doing 40-60 miles a week on the bike to more like 80-100 – and in all weathers. This is great for me (I can not only wear my jeans once more but – just about – pedal in them as long as I didn’t want to go up any hills) but is taking its toll on the bike. Especially if I neglect its maintenance: there are at least 3 toothbrushes in the cupboard under the sink, waiting for their second life as bike cleaning tools.
So today, having a bit of time to spare – and having realised I was now down to just three working gears, only one of which didn’t come accompanied by various clicking and rattling noises – I got the bike out and cleaned it. Turns out it’s blue …
More to the point, it now has all six* gears back and the ride into Bigtown and back was blissfully kitten-free with gear changes as smooth as silk. While it is nice to know that an hour with a bucket of warm soapy water, a toothbrush, and a few drops of oil makes such a difference, it does make me feel a bit of a heel for leaving it so long. No doubt everything would last longer if I took better care of it too. So I’m determined that this time things will be different and I will catch up with the toothbrush backlog** and give my bike the love and attention it will undoubtedly deserve this winter.
Whether I actually will or not, only time will tell.
*Theoretically 18 but I shun the front derailleur and just ride around in the middle ring all the time. I have yet to meet a hill that requires the granny gear, or a dog I need to cycle away from that requires the big ring.
** Not helped by the fact that my dentist takes an extremely robust approach to pain relief – he doesn’t really believe in it – so I have an incentive to keep my teeth and gums sparklingly clean at all times, which wears out the toothbrushes faster.