There was a time in my life I was enthralled by all things with engines. I wanted a Mustang with a 302 in it. I was envious of people with nice (fast) cars. Secretly, though only superficially, I wanted to be a mechanic. I fantasized about it. I waxed nostalgic in smelly garages with oil stains on the floors.
I didn't see myself as being mechanically inclined even though I scored high in mechanical aptitude on the ASVAB. I scored high enough that I had to beat the recruiters away for quite a few years after high school. For years I didn't believe my own instincts regarding mechanical things. I've started listening much more closely to those instincts.
In retrospect I guess I have always been somewhat mechanically inclined. But there's just been something about cars that has intimidated me. My theory is that there has always been too much at stake. When I was younger I relied heavily on my cars and I could never afford to mess something up. I never had money to sink into a car and being mostly inexperienced in working on them I just didn't have the confidence to dive under the hood.
As I grew older and stopped being in love with cars they started to become onerous to own. When all I wanted was something reliable to get me where I needed to go any hiccup in the operation of my car sucked money out of my pocket and put unwanted stress into my life. I never had the time, patience or cash to "tinker" with cars as an adult.
Enter the bicycle into my life.
When I gave up our second car and committed to being a full time bicycle commuter I realized I would need to become adept at maintaining my own bike. Not only would paying a bike shop to do simple repairs and adjustments be unnecessarily costly, but I already knew enough to realize I could learn what I needed to know and just save myself the time, hassle and money that would be involved by dragging a bike mechanic into the mix.
Delving into bike mechanics has been mostly rewarding. I've had a few stressed out moments, not knowing what to do and not knowing how I would get myself out of the pickle I'd wrenched myself into, but for the most part I've learned to do much more than I expected I would.
I can adjust derailers, brakes and disc brakes. I stripped and rebuilt a bike and added an Xtracycle extension. So I've never cut a stem and installed a headset. So I've never built a wheel. Those things will come with time.
I've found that I actually enjoy working on bikes. Even when I get stressed out by the prospect of a repair I cannot complete, I find therapy in wrenching my own bikes that I don't find in many other activities.
The cycling life is sublime. I love being able to finish up a repair on the bike stand, ease it to the ground, pedal off to the store, glide past the parking lot and up to the bike rack. Throw a u-lock around everything, stroll in the store and back out and return home in about the same time it would take me to find my keys, drive to the store, find a parking spot, walk halfway across the parking lot, amble aroudn the store and return.
Add the simplicity of maintenance and repair to the simplicity of riding and storing a bike and I guess you have it in a nutshell.Simplicity is bliss.