Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Middle-aged Biker Blues

More than ever, a feeling's creeping up on me that I am beginning to resemble the bike. As the thirties roll around my mind, I can feel the flexible approaches to the past fall away. Tool kits in the bike have reduced to just a spare plug and s-panner but at the same time, my insane willingness to wax and clean has leaned away a bit. Probably from years of knowing years of doing the same have not made metal into titanium. All I got was a highly glossed tank and body panels.

Now for the resemblance bit - ever got off the bike and started walking; for the first five minutes, I notice myself pulling changes in direction from my shoulder, leaning into the traffic and cutting diagonal lines through crowds. Gliding: avoiding acceleration and braking. The bike(s) haven't changed much. Apart from the usual personalisation touches such as butterfly stickers, they still do as much as ever and just that. I returned from work last evening to bump into the Akshay whose Rustking/Jasmine would not start. We took the head off, checked the points, poked and pawed all over and inside the carburettor, pushed and kicked. I even got the thin end of a spark plug embedded into the palm of my hand while using a ratchet spanner that slipped. Sultry Delhi evening with all the usual gurlas taking walks up and down the colony street wondering about the two sweaty guys trying to bring a be-he(-he-)moth to life. Dumb lives they must lead if all they can do in the evenings is wear light cotton thingys and walk up and down the same short road in front of their house every evening - can't be much intellectual stimulation in that.

Not that too many people are looking for anything else or are found on a strange street. Same streets where Akshay has shown me three other Yezdis/Jawas parked. Some trawl in twos to bike-spot while others trawl in twos to boy-spot. Get the ambien-c? Everyone's in a rut - those who plonk down for the available automobile for x,y or z consideration might even put a wine cooler in the back but above the skin, they all are the same. I got off the big bus called 'The Usual' and grabbed a lift on an anchorism and it has got me so far - deeper into the woods but at least I've found friends a small backyard where I can take things apart-by-part with my hands after grinding my brain at work.

Currently filled with five bikes: Wily's Stranger that I borrowed on his birthday when mine wouldn't start; Mukesh's Roadking that needs a tank patch up and is currently plugged with m-seal (note to firang peeps: putty adhesive stuff); my Bird Flu who needs a set of bearings and a front suspension overhaul. The front suspension took me four days and five attempts to get right, just to have the shock absorber oil drain out in the next three to four weeks. The arrival of the unobitiquous clank from the front end on bumps meant that I got off her and took out the Black Rider (another of mine).

I just gave in to my poverty and bought a set of chinese bearings for Bird's wheels. Where an Indian brand (say 6304 or some such size) costs around 180/- the chinese ones cost just 30/- (each). I had a slangy exchange with Wily who thinks chinese bearings are 'baaaad' but I am willing to take a cheap chance with my wheel bearings. Mind, just my wheel bearings. For the insides of the engine, I shall be big in budget and buy the mostest expensives kinds arounds.

I'm still looking for the tungsten tipped bolt that i found for Bruiser's contact breaker points. Once I do, I shall start it up and let the Akshay listen to a 60 year old engine. He ought to before his month's holidays are up and he goes back to chennai for his auto engrr. We also bought bearings for the Hero Kangaroo bycycle and that should come up in this month itself.

Before anyone points out that there is more to life than bikes, there's also a bass guitar to practise and the new Terry Pratchett's Science of Discworld Vol 3 (Darwin's Watch) to finish reading and awwww..................life is continous maintenance as usual.

Nobody stops me rolling!

- arunesh

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