Monday, May 11, 2009

My name is Tom, and I'm a bike mechanics addict

"Hi, Tom!"

About five years ago, my daughter's bike disappeared. She swears she brought it to the basement, though I have my doubts. We called the police when we noticed it was missing. The officer came and took our report, but he was skeptical. He said he had never heard of bike theft from a house's basement. Anyway, he did take the report. He said we should come to the bike auction later that year. If my daughter's bike showed up, we could have it back at no cost.

So I showed up at the auction. Daughter's bike wasn't there, but plenty of worthy bikes were, so I figured I'd buy one. Most of them needed major repairs, but that's no big deal for me. In my senior year in high school, I started working as a bike mechanic. I continued to make a living at it in summers through college. I dropped out of college for a few years and worked full time as a mechanic. So I have the skills required.

I ended up leaving the auction with THREE bicycles, because the value was irresistible. For two bikes, I paid $45 each. They needed major repairs, but, as I said, no big deal. For the third, I paid only $22. It was ugly. But guess what -- it needed no repairs whatsoever.

Thus started my addiction. Now it's a hobby.

As a birthday present to me, about three years ago, my wife rearranged the entire basement and cleared out one room to devote as a bike shop. I've been stocking it with bike tools. I've been to several auctions. I pick up bikes at garage sales. When people are giving away old bikes, I take them if I want them.

I've given bikes to friends, my nephew, one to my wife, one to the daughter whose bike disappeared and about four to my other daughter who is, from time to time, interested in learning about bike repair.

This past Friday, I gave one away to a neighbor who is recovering from a low point in her life. She was addicted to drugs and alcohol and was in in-patient treatment for a while. She lost custody of her teenage son. As luck has it, her sister has the boy, so things are going well for everyone involved. She now has a job and is living the straight and narrow path. She mentioned she doesn't have a car, so I fixed up a very trashed auction bike and gave it to her.

Saturday morning was one of the six days of the year my town allows us to drop off bulky items at the recycling center. There were about 20 bikes there, near the metal recycling area. I picked up an ancient Schwinn Varsity in excellent condition. My friend who was there helping me said, "Put the bicycle down, Tom. You don't need another bicycle, Tom." Yeah, but it's my house, so I took it home. Not sure what I'll do with it. They're nice to work on but horrible to ride.

So I gave away one bike this past weekend and also picked up another one, leaving me with 16 bikes, if I'm counting right.

Do I need help?

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