Monday, September 12, 2011

The Neighborhood Biking Dad...

a non-typical day in the life of. Let me start by stating that, as the neighborhood biking dad, it is not unusual for kids (friends of my son) to show up with a flat or other minor problem needing resolution. The type of things that are quickly and easily solved. I'm happy to be able to help out. There are some oddities as well; once I had a kid bring his bike by for some air. Then, I noticed something else odd about the cranks, they weren't aligned with each other, and I asked him what happened. Apparently one had come loose, and he got a handyman, who was doing some work at their house, to tighten it on. How he forced that thing on, I just don't know, but those cranks will never turn circles again. 

Anyway, yesterday started out with more such maintenance to kids bikes - the son of mine, invited a couple friends from the neighborhood to ride to Seal Beach with us, and so they brought their bikes by the garage for some pre-ride maintenance. Before this story goes much further, lets just shorten it up and say that, kids are tough on bikes, and don't give a whole lot of thought to maintenance. Both bikes needed air. One bike, a bmx, was also having front brake problems - the caliper would not budge, and though it still needs more work, I did manage to loosen it a little, enough to ride. Next came a lower model mtb, the kind you would expect a typical, still growing kid to own. The boys had already put air into the rear tire of this one, but as I examined it, I noticed that the wheel would not spin. This tends to happen when the tire is not set into the rim and is bulging out, about to explode. I caught it in time with no harm done. Next I noticed the rear derailleur (you see it below) - the cage is bent outward, and at the time it was not secured tightly to the frame. On short notice, there was nothing to be done about the bend, but tightening up the bolt helped with the alignment a little, enough that it could be ridden, and shifted, albeit noisily. Very noisily. 

With this done, I was satisfied that we could make the 17 mile round trip run between Cerritos (where we park) and Seal Beach. I had never ridden with either kid before, and though they are both a year younger than my own son, they are both active in sports, I figured they wouldn't have too much problem tackling this flat route with a long stopover for lunch. Well, half way down the bike path, the rear wheel on the mtb goes flat. Not only does the neighborhood biking dad fail to have a schroeder valve adaptor, but he also forgets a wrench with which to remove the offending rear wheel (no quick release on this bike). Even though we flag down a rider with an adaptable pump, the tube won't hold air, and we can't get the wheel off to patch it anyway. Yes, I know I could have patched it without taking the wheel off, and why I didn't think of this at the time, I just don't know. Anyway, three continued on down the bike path, while two of us returned to the car. As if the kid didn't feel miserable enough as it was for not being able to finish the ride, and having to ride back on a flat, while riding in the dirt alongside the paved path his front tire washed out in a soft patch, and he toppled over. Nothing bad, but another morale buster. Then he got a piece of tumbleweed lodged in his rear wheel. Then a broken branch, same place. With effort and no complaints we made it back, and drove the rest of the way to Seal Beach.

You always hope that a young rider won't be turned off cycling due to a bad day, and that is exactly what we had. Fortunately, a good lunch began to turn things around. This was followed by a run in the sands, and crawling through the crevices and caves between the boulders lining the mouth of the river - the gaps between them are amazingly big, allowing kids to squirm around between them. When we got back home, I told the kid to leave his bike so I could patch up the tube, and pick it up later. Job done, he had a smile, I got a high-five, and he was able to ride off. Later in the evening we saw him zipping around the area, all travails from earlier in the day forgotten. I think he will be ready to successfully complete the ride next time.

warm sun, soothing sound of waves, tunes on the ipod,
it's siesta time, where river meets the sea

more fishermen and bikes

1 comment:

  1. Nice piece. I too am the Neighborhood Biking Dad. It amazing how some of these "cheaper" kid bikes come assembled.


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