A sobering realization

So it is back-to-school time and that means the back-to-school shopping has begun. I am a deal shopper so I have started already and for the most part I am doing fairly well with my lists. I need to double check by I actually might be closer to being done than otherwise.

What got me to thinking was that Andrew wrecked his bike this past week. He did a good number on himself. It reaffirmed that I made a good choice in the bike purchase when I bought bikes a few years back for Christmas. I had my concerns about his 28″ hybrid frame holding up against too much rigor if we put mountain bike tires on it, but after he described and even showed me what he did on the bike a few days ago, I am convinced that I got a good buy out of this bike. It has held up nicely the past couple of years with me riding it taking Lance to and from school. I am pleased thus far and now more so after he wrecked it.

Of course, his wreck did not leave him or the bike unscathed. It held up well, but he managed to mangle it a little bit. He was pretty badly scraped up and I have to say that I have never been so grateful that my child came in and some of the first words out of their mouth were, “at least I had my helmet on.” I did not ask. I did not care. I just took a look at these large patches of road rash that he had on his elbow and knee. He obviously was fine everywhere else. His hands even had some mild road rash. A few days later when I went out to help him straighten the bike back out and see what we needed to do to get it back in running order, I asked where his helmet was. This was of course after having him show me what he had done after getting a good look at the bike. He had hit his head. He did not remember hitting his head, but he had managed to crack the outer shell on his helmet. Like I said, I have never been so grateful to hear the words “at least I had my helmet on.”

At any rate, we straightened out what we could on the bike and made adjustments where we could. Of course this was not enough. There were still obvious problems with the shifting mechanisms and the brakes were pretty worn down from the wear and tear I had put on it the past couple of years. We loaded it into the car and took it to Bike Barn.

I have to announce that I am extremely pleased with the service we get at the Bike Barn on the corner of Cypresswood Drive and Stuebner Airline. The guy that helped us, took the bike right back to the lift and started asking questions and looking at it. After looking at it, it was determined that the derailler was bent. Go figure. The bike most likely landed on it as it came down from his tumble. He bent it back out and made some adjustments and had Andrew go ride it around the parking lot. It was still having some problems. He made some more adjustments. Again still problems. Again he made some adjustments. After about 4 adjustments, it was finally shifting and not making noises anymore. Wow! The best part, the guy did not charge us for the repair! Not a cent! He did not fix the brakes, but he also said to ride the bike for a little while and see if the derailler problems held. If we had any further problems we could just bring it in for a full diagnostic and tune-up fee. They would then work on anything. Of course he told me the derailler part was about a $35-40 part. I was not opposed to putting a new derailler on the bike that day, it needed to be done. It was a reasonable repair for the price I paid for the bike. The brakes would add a little bit more. The diagnostic fee, a bit more and frankly I would not be opposed to it since I am quite happy with the bike and how well it has held up over the few years we have had it. Over all it has been a good bike. We will be on the search for a new set of pedals for it as the one complaint I have had has been the pedals and ultimately it might have been something that could have prevented Andrew’s accident as his foot slipped off the pedal and into the front wheel (among other things). I am just grateful that they were willing to do minor adjustments for free.

I have always been pleased with the service in there. I have taken bikes in there to get flats fixed and cost-wise it is cheaper for me to do that than to waste my time trying to do it myself. If I could do it in 5 minutes, maybe not. The fact it is that I cannot. A flat tire, to change an inner tube takes me 30 minutes to an hour, and that is assuming I already have the inner tube. In that same amount of time I can load it into the car take it to Bike Barn, get it fixed, pay my $10-15, run an errand or two, and be back home. I have not dirtied my hands or broken a sweat any more than what I would walking to the car. The hardest part was loading the bike. I am all for not wasting my time at this point in my life for things like this. Yes, I know how to change the inner tube if I have to and I can if I have to, but frankly I do not want to.

Alas, I digress.

This whole experience, brought me back to the realization that we have another bike that needs to be reviewed for long term riding and whatnot. That was made evident at the Cub Scout Pack Meeting where we did a bike Rodeo. Lance and I worked on his bike together so he could sign of some stuff for Cub Scouts and one of those was to bring a bike back to working order. His bike had not been ridden in a few months. So we did. It was obvious the wear and tear that his bike had taken over the past couple of years. Very obvious. Granted his bike is much older as it is the hand-me-down bike. It was originally Andrew’s bike. So it has gotten good use and it has served its purpose. I should not be sad or heartbroken that a bike that old is showing its age. I am not. The fact is that it has gotten more than its fair use at this point. Lance and I have put a lot of miles on that bike in the past couple of years.

There are several things wrong with Lance’s bike. First the derailler on his broken. It has been for a year at least. I noticed early in this school year that his gears were no longer shifting when he would turn his gear shift. It would go one or two gears and that was it. Now his gear shifter is stuck completely it seems so there is two problems. His breaks are mush. There are three problems. There are a couple or chain routing things that have completely worn and broken off so his chain does not stay where it is supposed to and it falls off from time to time. His handle bars no longer stay locked in place. He needs another new seat. So if you start with the derailler alone, I am already at about $40 and then you can add the brakes and it just does not seem reasonable to invest anymore into a bike for him. I did not pay $100 for that bike to begin with. It does not seem reasonable to spend that much to fix it. It was okay to spend $6 for the new pedals because he needed that, but $40 for a new derailler on a bike that the chain does not stay on anyway makes zero sense at all.

I started looking seriously at bikes for him yesterday. I thought with it being back-to-school time, surely someone would have bikes on sale. Kids ride their bikes to school, surely stores would have bikes on sale. This would be the perfect time to upgrade his bike as he has grown a little bit and it would be a good time to put him on a bigger bike. Well to my surprise, no one has bikes on sale except for the higher end stores where you are going to spend $300-500 for a bike. What? Why would I spend that much for a child that is not even 9 years old? Seriously?!?! Not in my right or wrong mind! The problem is that the bikes that I am looking at for quality, durability, and longevity are starting at $140 and go very quickly up to $190. We are talking about a child that is not even 9 years old yet.

Then I have to stop myself and think about what this bike is going to do for this child. This bike is going to get him to and from school every single day of school for the next 3 years. Until he grows out of this bike, it will be his bike. It has got to withstand the elements. It has got to withstand the wear and tear that we are going to put on it 4 miles at a time (in his case). It has got to hold up to the extreme heat and sun on the sidewalk during the day and it has got to withstand the rainstorms it will sit in. It has got to be able to endure it all. I cannot skimp on his bike. It cannot rust. It cannot be shoddily made. It has got to hold up. If I pay $100 now and I have to do it again in a year, then I end up spending more. I need to buy something that I am going to be willing to invest in the repairs.

So today we are going to go out shopping. We are going to go look with Lance in tow and we are going to figure out what he likes. Then we are going to wait and see what next week brings as far as sales. I do not have to buy it today. I am just going to wait and see. I just know that putting off the inevitable cannot wait forever. We might be able to put it off until his birthday in October, but I highly doubt his bike will make it that long once we start putting the higher mileage wear and tear back on it again. So today we will go out and prepare ourselves for the future purchase out of necessity. We will prepare ourselves for that purchase. We will make a decision based on what will be worth it in the long run not Lance likes best but what will hold up best with what Lance will be doing. Lance understands what that long ride does…he knows what kind of seat he needs, and how his pedals need to fit, etc. We’ll see what today brings….

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