The god of the handy

I was riding our exercise bike out in the garage (meaning, in the cold) this morning. I had a good book, and everything was going fine for the first 6 minutes, up until it got to the “steep” part of the program. Then the darn thing started slipping like an elephant on ice skates. There is a belt that transfers the pedaling force into something the computer can use to tell you how you are doing. It was this belt that was slipping, no doubt because of the recent cold temperatures around here. Well I tried pushing for a while to see if it would warm up some, but it didn’t. The darn thing was slipping so much that every push was too easy. So cursing my luck, I got off, and looked at the bike. There’s only a few screws holding the case, I told myself. This should be easy.

Famous last words.

An hour and a half later, I had the whole thing opened up, the pitifully antiquated bearings were soaking in gasoline, and most of the parts were clean. (As an aside, when was the last time you broke down an open bearing? For me it was on an old bike over 25 years ago. Were talking metal races holding a dozen large bearings. Huge gaps in the side with nary a bearing seal in sight.) While I was trying to tighten down the old style bottom bracket I was forcing the wrong wrench on a part while my knuckles kept brushing the last plastic guard I had left on the bike. That last piece was held on by only 6 screws. I knew because I had taken off it’s opposite, mirror-image piece on the other side. 6 screws was just that much more to break down, and I really was trying to finish up. Those of you who are handy will know the rest. Sure enough, the wrench slipped, and wham! I got a pressure cut across the back of the knuckle. Damn.

Funny enough, after that, it was smooth sailing.

All this has lead me to conclude that the god of small repairs must be Hephaestus; the crippled Greek god of the forge. On little projects he does not care as his help is not as needed. But on big jobs, he likes to see a little sacrifice in order to get things to work well. Blood mixed with grease or oil must be his thing. I cannot tell you how many times I bloodied a car engine, or a lawnmower engine, or pretty much anything that takes an hour or two to break down, and put back together. And it is usually after the hand has slipped, and the blood has flowed, that the project begins to snap.

When I got the whole thing back together, I discovered that the belt was still slipping. (insert sound of face palm) A few twists on the belt tensioner seemed to do the trick, and I finished the rest of my ride, 2.5 hours later, in peace.

But it sure pedals nice now.

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