Getting ready to bike
Now that it’s warm and sunny, I’ve decided that it’s time to start riding my bike again. But unlike in past years, I’m not just going to hop on it and go zipping down the hill to the bike path. Nope, I’ve learned something since last August, when my handlebars malfunctioned, I flipped over them, landed on the pavement and shattered my wrist. I’ve learned that getting your bike looked at and serviced on a somewhat regular basis is a good idea.
Because I hate spending money and going to stores, I decided to take my bike to the Troy Bike Rescue’s Albany branch, which is a few blocks from my apartment. The Troy Bike Rescue is a local organization that I’ve read about, but never interacted with. A self-described “collective of bike enthusiasts,” the Troy Bike Rescue rehabs old bikes — many of which are collected from the trash piles and dumpsters — with the goal of finding people to “adopt” them. People who wish to adopt a bike are asked to attend one of the organization’s “learn and earn” sessions, which teach basic bike maintenance skills such as how to true wheels, patch tires and remove and replace chains. In Albany, the Troy Bike Rescue hosts a workshop from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the basement of 15 Trinity Place on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. (To visit the Troy Bike Rescue website, click here.)
I ran into my landlord as I was removing my bike from the downstairs hallway. “Going for a ride?” she said. “Be careful.” “Ha, ha,” I said.
I wheeled my bike down the hill and around the corner, then carried it down a few steps and into the basement at the Trinity Institution, the community center that houses the bike rescue. The bike rescue occupies several rooms, and is a highly organized operation, filled with bikes in various states of repair, bike parts and tools. When I arrived, I was informed that I would have to wait a few minutes, but a young man appeared almost immediately and asked how he could help. “I just want someone to look at my bike,” I explained, “and make sure it’s safe to ride.” The young man lifted up my bike and secured it to a bike repair stand. The first thing he noticed was that the shifter cable was tangled. “Do you know how that happened?” he asked. “I had a little crash last summer,” I said, since I didn’t feel like telling the whole story.
He got some tools, and fixed it. But he didn’t just fix it. He explained exactly what he was doing, and how to do it. Empowering people to care for and maintain their own bikes is a key part of the Bike Rescue ethos, and this volunteer seemed to take his role as helpful guide and teacher quite seriously. (Across the room, another volunteer was fixing a bike while a small group of children watched and assisted.) He then checked over the rest of my bike, pronounced it safe, and retrieved a pump so we could put some air in the tires. “Your bike looks good,” he said.
I was tempted to ride it that evening, but then I remembered that I have a nasty cold that’s making it difficult for me to breathe or walk anywhere without wheezing. So I think I’ll wait a few days.
I e-mailed my broken wrist penpal — a local woman who broke her wrist in a bike accident right around the time I did — and mentioned that I had taken my bike in for a tune-up. She had done the same thing. “I was glad it didn’t need much — at least related to the crash,” she wrote. “My rear derailleur was smashed in, but they were able to straighten it up. I have some nice new tires, and am ready to rock!” She then mentioned that she was “having a fair amount of wrist pain after I hit around 15 miles, but I am hopeful that will go away with bike time.”
My wrist still hurts from time to time for no apparent reason, and so I’m sure biking will cause some pain, just as it did for my penpal. But I’m not too worried. As I said, it’s nice out, and I think it’s time to get out there. And if I need any more help with my bike, I’ll definitely return to the Troy Bike Rescue. They were very nice.
ON RASHEED WALLACE
Last Sunday, my dad and I watched the Celtics nearly blow a 20 point lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers. This Celtics team has become totally exasperating, and I've grown tired of Rasheed Wallace, whose negatives are no longer outweighing his positives. In that game, he acted like a jerk and got into a weird shouting match with Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
My dad viewed this with disapproval. He doesn’t like it when athletes act like jerks. He then noted that articles about Rasheed Wallace never fail to mention what a swell guy Rasheed Wallace is — what a nice teammate, husband and father. “Supposedly, he’s super nice,” my dad said. “He does all this charity work. He’s a great father, and a good husband.”
Yesterday I stumbled across a critique of Rasheed Wallace that appears to have been written for me and my dad. In this piece (which you can find here) Bill Simmons pronounces Rasheed Wallace “my least favorite Celtic ever, edging out Todd Day, Fred Roberts, Sidney Wicks, Curtis Rowe and Vin Baker. At least Vinnie had an excuse: a drinking problem. Sheed has an apathy problem. His doughy, nonchalant shadow looms over every game." The essay even includes this sentence: “Everything you’re about to read has nothing to do with Wallace’s qualifications as a friend, husband, father or son. I am discussing him as a basketball player only. We will call that person ‘Sheed.’"
I don’t agree with everything Simmons writes — I found his recent assertion that Tiger Woods’ comeback will be more difficult than Muhammad Ali’s rather ridiculous — but his NBA insight really is quite good, and his Rasheed Wallace essay went a long way toward explaining why this Celtics team is such a letdown. I was optimistic about the signing, because I thought Rasheed would be motivated to win a second championship. But for the most part, he’s been a total drag.
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