On Monday, I somehow managed to get my bike cross-chained so bad that I couldn't shift. The chain was under so much tension that it couldn't even loosen enough to go down a gear. I called the Bike Gallery, where Tess informed me that this was "very bad" and that if I couldn't loosen it myself, I'd probably have to bring my bike in and they'd break the chain. After work, as I was getting ready to walk my poor, crippled bike over there, I decided to kick it around one last time to see if it might come unstuck, and suddenly it did. Yay! It was rideable again, but I decided that there was probably enough wrong with my bike that I really ought to have it looked at anyway.
That turned out to be a good idea.
There are a lot of things I like about the Bike Gallery, but I especially like how they won't let me get away with not learning new things. I would have trusted Ryan to do whatever he saw fit to do to my bike without explaining any of it to me, but no, he made me come over and turn the handlebars once he had my bike up in the stand (which was within approximately ten seconds of when I walked in the door) so that I could feel how they settled into the forward-facing position instead of rotating smoothly all the way around. He picked up a stray ball bearing and pressed it hard into his workbench, and we watched it sit motionless in its dent. "See how it won't roll out of there?" he said. "There are indentations all around the bearing cups of the headset assembly such that it's binding unevenly and resisting rotation." Or something like that. It was hot.
Aside from that, my back tire was about to blow any minute, my shifters were coming loose, my front wheel was misaligned, my back brake pads were worn out, and (sure enough!) my chain was shorter than it should've been. He started writing out the estimate for me. It was adding up fast -- and then I realized that they were doing a half-price winter overhaul special, which would include all of the same work and a lot more, and which would be kind of like having a whole new bike for what would turn out to be about twenty dollars more. I decided to spring for it. I'd been planning to do this sometime anyway -- why not now?
So this afternoon, Tess called to say she was done with my bike, and I quit work "early" -- uh, 5:30 -- so that I could go pick it up. How awesome is James, who was closing the bike store tonight? This awesome: he kept the store open almost half an hour past their official closing time of 6:00 so that I wouldn't have to wait another day. And how awesome is Tess? This awesome: it really is like having a whole new bike. I guess that I've been so used to having to hit the brakes super-hard to get my bike to stop that the first time I braked, I stopped in about two feet and nearly had a heart attack. (And nary a squeak, either. I don't remember the last time they weren't a little squeaky!) And dig my beautiful new puncture-resistant road tires, guaranteed for a year against flats! Bring on the fifteen-foot patches of broken glass and thorn bush clippings, southeast Portland! I can take it!