Every now and then I go down to one of the colleges in Oxford and help out a bit at the regular bike maintenance session. Students and staff can come down to get the advice and expertise of Gerard, Andrew, Lucas and sometimes me in exchange for a little bit of beer money.
Often, the “bicycles” we work on are terrible examples of the cycle maker’s “craft”. You know the type…ones with MountainForce 3000 and British Street Demon decals on the downtube which should actually read Shitbox 3000 and Non-British Road Muppet instead. It’s kind of depressing that some of the brightest minds in the country can’t even crack open a bottle of chain lube from time to time.
Next time I go, I’m thinking of sitting out the front like a bouncer and saying things like:
“That bike’s too crap even for this poverty stricken bike workshop…you”re not coming in”
“I’ll teach you how to fix the puncture yourself so you don’t have to keep coming back but I’m not doing it for you”
Anyhow, the other night I tinkered with a little BMX style bike, a bit like the one pictured above. It belonged to the little boy one of the post-graduate students. When I arrived, Lucas and Andrew had just finished attending to it but when its owner came back and took it for a spin it turned out that the chain was a bit loose so I tightened it up for the young tyke and he happily pedaled off with his mum.
The thing that tickled me the most about the bike was that the vehicle was a fixie. It didn’t have a kick-back brake (there was a front caliper) or a freewheel…it was a direct drive, fixie. I nearly tried teaching the lad to trackstand or skid but decided against it.