Me and my old Schwinn WorldSport

The poor thing. I treat it like crap sometimes. But then it goes and does this to me… the little bastard.

We’ve got a slightly dysfunctional relationship. It’s like a horse that I never feed, yet still expect to keep working. It’s down to four gears (it has 10, but I don’t know from derailleurs, so I haven’t been able to fix the other 6), of which one slips. They’re all a little rusty. The wheels are not bad, although the back one has a little bump that rubs against the brakes sometimes. The brakes are pretty good. There’s a light on the front that works, and a blinky on the back that has no batteries (which reminds me, I should fix that!); a lock that attaches to the frame but rattles around, and pedals that work fine but are sharp! I can’t ride it without shoes. The seat causes super numbness if I ride it for any distance, and the seat post and handlebars are a couple inches too short for me.

There are stickers: Free Ride, Tally Hall, WRCT, “Commute to Work”, and a crappy Grand Buffet that looks like hell. It’s got character.

Sometimes I feed it new parts. It’s always a pain, though, because there are two options:
1. Free Ride, which is awesome in theory, but always a negative experience in practice. They have a lot of tools, but not necessarily good parts. (what do you expect for free?) And they’re open at odd hours (Tuesday/Thursday like 6-10, Saturday 1-5), meaning that whenever I go, I’ve got to get stuff done quick! And I have to be able to ride the bike home, so I better not mess anything up. Plus it’s dark and grimy, but that sometimes makes me feel good, like “Look at me, I can do manual labor too!” (the punchline: I can’t. I’m so useless.)

2. Biketek or Pittsburgh Pro, which are good bike shops in theory, but when you leave, your wallet will be many dollars lighter, and your self-esteem will be many notches lower. Welcome to the Bike Shop. Our special is a heaping plate of condescension with a side of bike parts. Can I take your order and scoff at you?
They are a lot closer, though, and open at somewhat-reasonable hours. (Only somewhat, though.) So the other day, I went in there asking for a tire (my old tire was rotting and awful), tube (I got a spare tire from Matt Joachim, but it was a slightly different size), or maybe wheel (to fix the aforementioned bump, while I’m at it). After a few brusque questions, the guy established that I don’t even know what size wheels I have. (surprise! 700 mm != 27 inches. Also, they don’t even make 27 inch wheels anymore. Oh bike, you are so old.) Then he sold me a $15 tire, and tried to sell me a $45 wheel. My entire bike cost less than that!

Whatever. I made it happen. Got the tire. Put it on. Also added a little screw that was never there before, that according to the Free Ride folks (a while ago) would fix my derailleur woes.

So I’m heading to campus, listening to my ipod (which I wasn’t sure if I wanted to bring, but decided to at the last minute), and I switch gears, and I have a couple seconds of blinding terror where NOTHING IS WORKING and I’m not sure why and before I know it I’m skidding along the ground, and I have the presence of mind to get up and get out of the road before it hits me that I just fell down, and I hope I am not bleeding too much (luckily I’m not) and the adrenaline jolt and LCD Soundsystem’s “Get Innocuous!” are jazzing me up enough that I yell out a prodigious “FUCK!” and start cursing at my bike. Turns out my chain fell off and got stuck between the gears and the frame, causing my back wheel to stop turning.

Look, bike, I just tried to fix you! I gave you an entire new tire! Whatever. I have no big wounds, so I keep rolling down to campus.

It’s only when I get to improv and go to turn off my ipod that I realize it is all broken! The screen ist kaput! The buttons aren’t the most functional! The “lock” switch doesn’t work! Well, it still plays music, although the last couple days where its battery has lasted about 40 minutes have given me reason to doubt that too. My phone’s screen is a little messed up, but not in any way that affects its function. (although it seemingly has started answering itself if I don’t answer it. if you call me and hear My Pocket: Greatest Hits instead of voice mail, I apologize!)

Hey, bike, come on! If you don’t like me, give me another one of those injuries where my foot slips off the pedal and hits me in the heel and it bleeds a little bit but leaves a cool scar. But don’t take it out on the ipod! You two are a team! Between the two of you, I can get anywhere, and really enjoy it!

Sigh. Two things have come out of this, though:

1. I’m probably in the market for a new mp3 player, so I’m open to suggestions. I’ve had great experiences with the ipod nano, and terrible experiences with a Samsung YP-U2J. I’m not all so sure I want to deal with the Apple monopoly, though. I do want flash memory, a backlit screen that’s not dumb, the ability to play an album straight through or shuffle, and no nonsense with connecting/downloading/etc. Capacity is not a big deal- 1gb is fine. The cheaper the better. This is a good thing, because it lets me buy new technology, which is always fun. Plus, it doesn’t even cancel out the raise I got for TAing, so in terms of overall luck, I’m still ahead!

2. Cause and effect: check this out.
If I hadn’t tried to replace the tire AND gotten this screw and “tip” from Free Ride, I wouldn’t have adjusted the derailleur and therefore wouldn’t have fallen.
If I hadn’t decided to take my ipod at the last minute, I wouldn’t have broken it.
If I hadn’t been going to break dancing that night, I wouldn’t have worn gym shorts, and maybe better pockets would have saved the ipod.
If I had bought the new wheel, I would have bent it too, which would have sucked.

Okay, whatever. But here’s a cool cause-and-effect chain: yesterday I was coming back to campus, and I had this impending feeling of doom that this car would hit me. (it didn’t, don’t worry.) But I was wearing my helmet, because Sarah convinced me that I should after I told her about my wreck on Thursday, and it only came up because we were talking about music and I mentioned that my ipod was all broken. So, if the car HAD hit me:
Going to break dancing -> wearing gym shorts
Replacing tire + screw from Free Ride + wearing gym shorts + grabbing ipod at the last minute -> fall + broken ipod.
broken ipod -> conversation about bike crash + I decide to wear my helmet
wearing helmet -> not dying when car hit me
So in a way, my life would have been saved because I tried to replace my tire, I got this screw from Free Ride, I was going to break dancing class, and at the last minute I decided to take my ipod.

The life you save, quite unintentionally, may be your own!


Beltonius -

Suggestions as to the flash-based MP3 player:
Creative Zen V Plus or Stone Plus They’re nano-like and shuffle-like, respectively.

Sansa has a bunch of solid (physically and UI-wise) flash-based media players.

I have a Cowon X5L which is HDD based, but they’ve been shifting over to flash-based players. They have a bunch, take a look. They’re renown for excellent codec/format support (and behave just like external HDD’s). The iAudio 7 looks really nice.

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