The life and times of the bike-repair-guy

March 11, 2011

I find cycling good for my soul. I’ve recently developed the habit of shuffling the songs on my iphone as I ride to and from work. I’ve been trying to do that (ride to work) at least twice a week. I need to train.

I have the Otway Classic coming up. It’s a scenic 145km ride taking in our famous Great Ocean Road. This year will be the second year I’ve entered it. I’m feeling more bike-fit than I did last year. Hopefully, I’ll ride it more easily and faster than last year.

One thing in my favour is my new bike! It’s carbon. I bought it for a pretty good price, but I’ve been unimpressed with the after-sales service I’ve received. Instead of taking the bike in for its free first check at the place of sale, I took it in to the guy at the cycle shop at uni this week.

I’ve blogged about the guy at the uni cycle shop numerous times. I visit the shop once a year, usually before Around The Bay to have my bike serviced. He always tells me off for something and gives me a cycling tip in a sort of fatherly way. I find this amusing because we may be of similar ages. However, I always feel dutifully admonished and suitably thank him for his tips, invariably returning to my familiar ways soon after. For example, he told me one year I must begin riding without knickers under my knicks (it’s the done thing). This I tried only to find it unsuitable to my anatomy (the friction on the towelling of the knicks was excruciating after 100km! and on that occasion I had another 110 to go). Another time he told me how to wash my bike after every ride. I nodded, I promised, but I am yet to develop the habit.

This year it was the way my new bike had been set up that gave him cause to tutt tutt. They’d not put the de-railer on tightly (one turn only – about to fall off, he said), the seat was too far back and on the wrong angle, as well as that the knicks I had on weren’t padded enough for the long rides. (Tell me about it, I said, After the last ‘Around The Bay’ I ended up with two circular bruises on each sit bone that stayed visible for over three weeks!). He’s ordered me some super duper knicks from Canada! He attached a pump to the new bike, replaced the tubes in my repair kit with two fresh ones (I’d used the spare tube that day to repair a flat) and he tried to fit a second water bottle holder for me with no success. I’ll have to wait until a special order arrives next week from Queensland for that!

All-in-all, he spent quite a bit of time on my bike. I’d left it with him for the day. I came to pick it up before he’d fitted the pump. I bought a couple of coffees and we drank them while he worked. The conversation went like this:

“Don’t carry a repair kit, carry two spare tubes instead”, he said as he accessed my little below-the-seat bag especially designed for repair kit items and sundry.

“Ah, um, careful, um, there’s actually also a tampon in there… sorry, um, just so you don’t get a surprise opening that”.

“Oh don’t worry, I have three sisters”, he said as he casually took out my repair kit, tampon and sundry items and replaced the lot with two tubes. Only the tyre levers went back in.

“Have you?” I enquired politely as to his family situation, and added, “I have four daughters”. He expressed surprise and I asked him if he had children.

“Yes one daughter”, and after a pause added, “and four grandchildren!”

Since he seemed to be only around 50 (at the most) I expressed surprise. As we talked his story unfolded:

Only six months ago, he found out he had a thirty-one year-old daughter. She contacted him via facebook. At that time, his daughter had found out that the person she had thought was her mother was actually her grandmother, and the person who she thought was her sister, was her mother.

Her mother was my bike-repair-guy’s girlfriend when he was sixteen. He had no idea she had become pregnant. His efforts to contact her in the continuation of their friendship were returned by her relatives at the time with, leave her alone, you are better off without her, she’s no good, type-messages.

The daughter had always wondered why she was the only one in her family group with red hair. When her grandmother on her death-bed told her she was not her mother, she pestered her aunties until they divulged her father’s name (aka my bike-repair guy). When she searched him on facebook she firstly found his sisters’ profiles. Suddenly suspecting her genetic heritage, she emailed them enquiring if they were related to ‘his name’ and the reason for her enquiry. His sisters subsequently contacted my bike-repair guy to say, Hey, you have to check this out! In my bike-repair guy’s words, “She’s identical to my sisters at that age! And all her kids look like my sister’s kids”.

But that’s not the end of the story! As I said, he was discovered by her six months ago. Since then, he has brought her down from Queensland where she had just experienced a difficult divorce, bought her a car, a home, furnished the home and now has a lot to do with her and her children. He smiled as he said, “Yes, she completely ruined my peaceful lifestyle. I’d never intended to be a family-type-of-guy”.

He’d inherited an instant family even though he’d consciously decided not to have one.

“Well, for a non-family-type, you’ve pretty well embraced the responsibility”, I said.

“The way I see it, I had no choice”, he laughed.

“Four grandkids… wow!” I contemplated his situation. I admired his response to that news of only six months ago.

We laughed.

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