much can be learned by breaking things.
take, for example, that time back in the early years of high school when i took apart the only shimano rapidfire shifter in the county, just to replace a frayed cable, and found out the hard way that shimano is not built to be re-built. there is nothing a geeky freshman won't do to get all eight speeds of his heavy cromoly beast back in working order, even if it does take him all night and every single one of his dad's micro screwdrivers. i learned that there is a nifty little hole on the side of a shimano shifter where that new cable just slides right in, no complex disassembly required.
what about that time i broke the rim on that same damn cromoly beast? i learned how to mail order spokes of the right length for the rim and hub i would buy from the same vendor, back before there was internet and conversations were necessary to commerce. i learned how to build a wheel. i learned how to true a wheel. i learned how to properly inflate my tires and hop higher next time.
a few weeks ago i discovered that i broke my frame.
long story short: this put me off my bike for a couple of weeks.
i learned a lot in this time.
i learned that there is a lot of other stuff to do while i'm not riding my bike. i learned that my to-do list is capable of independent, exponential reproduction, and will lengthen when unwatched and unattended. i learned that there are jobs to do and chores to finish and projects to start and when i'm not on two wheels, i'm bad at all of those other things i do while i'm not riding my bike.
when things break, and i mean really break, like thresholds, and new places or levels are found, inevitably there is some kind of epiphany, as soon as the breaker has a moment to catch his or her breath and reflect upon what s/he just did. sometimes it's shock: shit, i just landed that unscathed and my bike is totally in half! sometimes, it's relief: finally babe, we made it through [child's] potty training, and we never have to do it again! sometimes, it's just death: . when i found that my frame broke, and i wouldn't be riding on my dream machine for a few weeks, there were a few immediate epiphanies. i realized that i was kinda excited about the excuse to buy a new bike. i realized how emotionally attached i was to the serotta as i stripped it down and drank a beer and got really depressed about it. i realized that the serotta forum is full of a bunch of really nice guys who genuinely like bikes and are sad to hear when someone can't ride his, and it's also full of a bunch of classist assholes who believe that those who didn't pay an arm and a leg for a new serotta shouldn't enjoy it let alone get any kind of warranty or repair favor when the craftsmanship fails. i realized that i become an asshole when i can't ride my bike. and i realized, most importantly, that the bike is really just a bike, a vehicle to greater things, regardless of what the vehicle is made out of. the greater things will still be great.
and they were.
my brother took me out for a ride and i felt like a million bucks afterward, even if i was pedaling a steel singlespeed with fenders and a bell. i rode my mountain bike for a couple errands and laughed at the sheer fun of such fat tires and inefficient pedaling. i ran more. i played with my kids and looked at BMC's while waiting for them to fall asleep.
the serotta is now fixed. i'm saving for a new bike anyway, but in the midst of the 'crisis' of being without it, i had the extreme fortune to meet matt chester. the guy is amazing. one of my coworkers was explaining matt to another coworker and said, 'it's like having god fix your frame.' or it's like a really nice guy, who's the best at what he does, do a really good job of getting you back on your bike, for no pretense or exorbitant fee or unnecessary machining. that's matt chester. and i highly recommend him and his work to anyone. took a breakthrough to meet him, and i'm glad i did.
i will also mention that throughout all of this, my ladyfriend was also a breakthrough. my cracked frame may as well have been her cracked frame, and she was online and networking and scouting deals to get me back on the road. she treated it like a mission. i ride bikes. i love riding bikes. but if i don't ride bikes, my life will go on. it just won't be the same, and my ladyfriend knew it. she looks out for me, and quests for the same things i do, and keeps me on the road to being better.
i guess it's okay to break things, as long as i don't end up fixed.