The Mountain Bike Life

He snapped the press into place, lined up the cups, and began slowly twisting it all together.

“That epoxy smells,” Ted said.

“You know,” he replied, “twenty years ago I never thought I would be gluing plastic cups into what is essentially a plastic frame, with tiny little bearings that are somehow supposed to hold up to the stress of road racing and mountain biking, with a headset press, of all things.”

“I can’t believe how loud they were, or that I wore them out so fast,” Ted said, hovering over him. Anyone else, and he might give him his fake speach about how OSHA doesn’t let customers into the work area, but he was a friend, after all.

“That’s why I call it Creaky30.”

“So is that epoxy going to show around the rings of the cup, or do you wipe it off?”

“Really?”

“Sorry, it’s just my OCD.”

“You don’t have OCD,” he said. He cranked the press loose enough to pull the headset press into the next closest notch. “This always happens, the tool bottoms out right before the cups are all the way in. Just like spokes always need turned right at the reflector.”

“I’m serious,” Ted said, holding his hands open, pleading. “I will go crazy if that epoxy is all over the place.”

“You don’t have OCD. Almost nobody has OCD.”

“I do,” the new mechanic chimed.

“Of course you do…Just saying, as a customer service representative, which is what us mechanics are, more than any kind of technician, just stop with the OCD thing. Bike mechanics are just hand-holding, enabling but helpless pawns, our pay on the line in exchange for pretending you aren’t picky little First-World Spoiled Grown-Up Kids.

Episode8

First of all, it doesn’t excuse unreasonable requests and behavior by claiming you are OCD. And it doesn’t make you more interesting. You are not Monk. You are just an annoying douche that, despite numerous brake bleeding and warranty replacements, won’t admit that it is just in your head that one lever is moving closer to your grip than the other. Worse, you won’t acknowledge that the only reason you are worrying about it is that you have such a comfortable life that you have nothing else to worry about. Go give that super-enduro bike to a poor kid in Guatamala. I bet he will be having too much fun to even apply the brakes, let alone find something wrong with them. I bet he doesn’t obsess about how clean the tiling in his bathroom is, either. Oh, that’s right, he doesn’t even have indoor plumbing, so having a clean backsplash takes a bit of a backseat to having clean drinking water.

Second, stop quizzing us. There are plenty of great mechanics that have no time to read all the magazines and websites about what makes a great mechanic. Once in awhile, I will purposely not line up the tire’s label with the valve. And you will point it out, just to prove your elite OCD status. If you know so much, you should be able to install your own damn tires and tubes. I don’t line them up, hoping it will bother you and you will start going to another shop, because I don’t like you. Probably because of the last time you were in and I was out of 48mm valve tubes, and you couldn’t handle the idea of having a 60mm valve, since it didn’t match your other valve. Give that tube to a kid in a third world country, he will make a sling shot out of it so he can hunt and feed his family. Bet he won’t care what length the valve is.

Third…”

“Dude!” Ted interrupted. “You either need to ride, drink a beer, or drink two beers and get lucky.”

“I already got lucky, I have experienced the statistical anomoly of being surrounded by OCD sufferers. I should go buy a scratch-off.”

Ted laughed and patted him on the back. “He needs to get lucky,” he announced. “Are you ready to hear about your ex-girlfriend yet?”

He spread a little grease on the spindle, worked it through and put on the other crank arm. When he was working this many hours, so many days, he often dreamt that his tired arms and legs were being changed out like simple cranksets and handlebars. And that’s what he always felt about his exes. They extracted him like a worn out bearing. Replaced him with a smoother one. None of them ever called him crying. Followed him around. Asked to get him back.

“Sorry,” he said. “I don’t listen to stories about my exes. I’m just a little OCD about it.”

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