Some background, I have been into mountain biking for 24 years, my first MTB was a Redline that I was given the Christmas before I turned 10. I’m no expert, but I can confidently fix most issues on a bike.
My neighbor does not own a car. I’ve never gotten the full story, but I know it would cost him hundreds of dollars to get his license back, and I’m sure his daily 6-pack of Miller Lite that I see him with every night probably has something to do with it. Nice guy. Really nice guy, actually, but has no car or license.
He rides his bike everyday to and from work, the store, everywhere. His bike is getting longer in the tooth and it wasn’t a high-end bike to start with. Not a Wally-World bike, but it’s a Suntour fork, Alvio components and Tektro mechanical brakes on a standard 6000-series Aluminum budget frame. It’s more than adequate, but nothing flash.
Four years ago, he saw me working on my bikes in my backyard and asked if I could look at his. It was in sad shape and needed help, so I fixed it. He supplied beer and parts, I drank and wrenched.He was ecstatic to get it back in much better shape.
Fast forward four years and nearly annually I work on his bike. As it’s his primary mode of transportation, it sees a ton of miles. He’s also effectively broke, so I work out of parts bins, and craigslist/ebay where I can to keep costs low.
Tonight he stopped by panicked. He was coming home from a new job and his tire ruptured. Literally. Not tube, tire.
So he’s flipping out because he needs to work and is short on rent already, let alone having to now buy bike parts. I take a look, knowing I have tires that are 50-75% good in my collection that he can basically have, and ask him if he is having any other problems with it.
“Brakes stopped working”
“Um, like they aren’t strong anymore?”
“No, like I put my feet down to stop, now.”
‘Holy crap, I live next door to you dude, you have my cell #. What are you doing?’ I think to myself. “I can take a look, probably needs an adjustment and new pads,” I say.
“Ok, I don’t have money.”
Of course not. So I rummage through my parts bin and find brake cables, tires and shraeder-valve 26" tube (I own a 1993 Specialized Rockhopper that still uses these) and tell him I’ll have to order brake pads and it looks like he’ll need a chain and cassette.
“I’ll do you a favor. Take my hardtail. That way you can get to work. I’ll order parts and replace them and then just pay me half when you get a paycheck and the other half the next paycheck. It’s not like I don’t know where you live.”
So I order $48 of parts and get to work on the other items of need.
New tire is mounted, everything has been cleaned and greased, now I just need the new parts which will come Monday.
So where is this all going, because I don’t want this to play out as a “Humble brag.” I have had a terrible few months at work. My boss is about as condescending as they come. It’s awful. But I’m working and I’m working in the field I majored in, so I really shouldn’t complain. My neighbor works jobs, not a career, but he is always happy. It’s infectious.
I am trying to be happier. I think the busier we get and the more bogged down we become with everything the more we forget to smile.
So I get the satisfaction of helping this guy out, and I get to wrench a bit. He gets to go to work, and will have a working bike at the end of all of this. It’s a win-win.
My neighbor impresses me. He doesn’t whine about being broke, he goes to work. His bike broke down and he walked the 5 miles to his job today (in the snow, uphill both ways.) I think I admire his attitude because I would not be half the guy he is if I was faced with the same challenges. I need to work on that.
That’s all. Nothingness really, just fixing my neighbor’s bike while his attitude encourages me to fix mine.
My neighbor is Mr. Fixit.