Jan 8, 2011
Susan and I have old bikes for riding around Paamul. I bought mine at a yard sale about 20 years ago - a real solid Kuwahara mountain bike - no shocks, but strong enough to last for years more. I was riding through Guelph Lake Park a couple of years ago, a very popular biking place, and another rider commented as he overtook me “Wow, a classic”. I took it as a compliment.
Anyway, I have hauled our bikes south and north for years, bouncing around on a bike rack, adding dirt and other road detritus to their patina.
(I’ve always liked the word “patina”. While it properly refers to tarnish on bronze and other metals, or the wear and weathering of lovely things like wooden furniture, I often use the exalted “patina” to glorify an old pair of work jeans, paint splatters on my shoes or the state of my t-shirts from my careless eating habits. But I digress.)
After several seasons of wintering first on the Pacific coast and then on this Caribbean, the coastal salt air has added a lot of rust. As some gears were not used regularly, some metal parts had gotten jammed up good. Maybe this was the time to give my “Classic K” a little service.
I had thought about a bike tune-up last summer up in Canada. My main sprocket gear shifter did not budge at all, and the rear shifter was sticky. Several bike shops quoted me a “Spring Tune-up Special” of $75. (reg. price $90.) with parts extra. That seemed steep for my old machine, as I had only paid $60 for it in the first place. Still not having all my gears did limit its capabilities around the Ontario hills.
When I unpacked the bike this fall, I found that one tire would not hold air for long, and with the other issues I lifted it up into the truck and took it into town.
I knew this little bike shop near the tennis park, and took it there. I communicated that the rear tire wouldn’t hold air -- new tube please. No problem. Quanto? (How much?) $25 (pesos -- the Mexican symbol for pesos is the same as our dollar sign, very confusing).
Then I pointed out that the cables running from the handle bars to the gear shifters were badly rusted. Change them? Si, $40. So two guys went to work on my bike, installed the new tube, and then sprayed penetrating fluid and other oils on the shifters. The main sprocket shifter, which hadn’t moved in more than a year, was frozen, requiring a new shifter. How much? $90. Okay. So they put on the new shifter, got all the gears adjusted and working well, give it an overall spray and wipe-down with silicone, and I’m good to go.
Altogether, it took close to 45 minutes. Time to pay up?
Quanto? Noventa. Ninety? For everything? Si.
As we were adding repairs to my bike, they were giving me the running total, not the individual costs, as I had assumed.
In the end, I gave the guy a hundred with many thanks. A hundred pesos is somewhere just over 8 dollars Canadian. A good job, a good deal, and I’m a good little boy riding my bike again.