My bicycle wheel broke. It made me sad. It made me angry. I HAD to fix it. Or get a new one. Immediately, if not sooner. I CANNOT go about my life knowing that the rear wheel of my mountain bike has a crack in it.
And now I know why. I figured it out.
When I was 20, I was in college, and had a scholarship that, after tuition and books, left me just enough money to buy a Toy. It was the first time in my life I’d had significant discretionary income, so I banked a portion of it (mutual funds) and spent the rest frivolously. One semester, I bought a mountain bike. I realized that I didn’t own a bicycle, and that thought made me sad, so I purchased one. I got it at the bike shop, and it fit me, which Department store bikes did not. I then joined a fundraiser that rode from Orlando to Miami over three days. Not a great idea on a mountain bike, but I was hooked on to wheels.
Then I met Christine. She was the last of last-year’s model. She had been sitting for a year, and was lonely, and a little angry at life. The first time we went out together, she was so smooth, and handled so gracefully, I knew the future needed us to be together. My father helped me purchase her, and we made a pair.
She was not nice to me. We went off-roading a lot, and each time, I would come home with a new wound from where she would bite me. My scars have scars. Then I dressed her up nice. I got her a fancy pair of brakes that matched her paint job, then I bought her a carbon fiber wheel. My parents bought her the other as a birthday gift to me. These wheels were the bomb-diggidy in 1998. There were no wheels cooler than these three-spoke carbon fiber Spin wheels. I took Christine to Utah, and we rode down mountainsides at 38 miles an hour while jumping from rock to rock. She never bit me again (that I didn’t deserve).
Part of the awesomeness of these wheels was their indestructability. They never needed to be trued, and they had a lifetime warranty. Except, the company went out of business. Oh well, they were still indestructible.
Unlike the rest of life. Out in the world, life changed. I moved, taking Christine with me, but didn’t have time to ride. Children came along, making mountain biking a luxury. Christine became the Hauler of the Trailer with our children in it.
When I got a triathlon bike, I think it kind of broke her heart. I completed my triathlon, and then turned my eye on my neglected mountain bike. I washed her carefully, lubed the chain, and noticed the crack in my indestructible wheel. It ran near the rim, completely through the wheel. It shouldn’t have been possible. Those wheels were supposed to be forever.
I was dumbfounded. How could it break? I took care of it. I did what I was supposed to. I upheld my end of the Bargain. It WASN”T FAIR!!!
Just like my parents divorcing. Just like my sister moving away. Just like the selling of our family’s Old Home. It’s not fair. I kept my end of the bargain. Why can’t it just keep keeping on, like it was supposed to in my head. Like I thought it always would.
I priced new wheels; too expensive to replace with an exact duplicate. I could buy a cheapo-wheel, but it wouldn’t match, and then Christine would look silly. Every time I looked at her I would see an example of how life wasn’t fair. No can do.
There are people who professionally repair carbon fiber wheels. They are expensive (and worth it!) but out of my budget. There are toys to buy bills to pay. Expensive repairs are for cars that make money, not for Daddy’s toys.
So what’s a guy to do? Accept defeat? Grow world-weary and bitter because life hands you lemons, and it takes sugar and water to make lemonade? That’s not in me.
I went to Ebay, source of All Things. I bought carbon fiber and epoxy for $40. I spent a weekend in my garage repairing that wheel. I have carbon fiber barbs imbedded in my. They itch. A lot. I glued 3 fingers together. They are still sticky. The wheel will never look as good as it once did, and there is ALWAYS going to be the chance that it will break again.
But it’s not broken now. I fixed it.
Things break in life. Toys. Bones. Promises. Bargains. Dreams.
It’s not fair. What’s more IT NEVER WAS FAIR. Fair is a pleasing fable for children.
But I do know this: I DON’T QUIT. I MAKE THINGS HAPPEN.
No hand controls my destiny but my own, and if I’m unhappy with the situation, then it’s mine to change. It’s a burden. I’d rather whine to the gods that they need to fix things and I want my dream-life back. But they are mockingly silent, and if I want my future, I know I must take it from them.
My wheel was broken, but I shall not be.