One Christmas, in the formative years of my cycling habit, one of the elder statesmen of the club I raced for gave me a stern lecture during a winter training ride. “Kid,” he said, “Your bike shop mechanics are basically like a bike. You need to grease them over the winter or they’ll fail on you. If that happens you’ll have a shit season next year.”
Since then, we’re talking twenty years on the trot now, the week before every Christmas, the busiest period of the year for many bike shops, I’ve made the trek to my shop of choice and greased them. When I was younger, and legally incapable of buying alcohol, it was biscuits and chocolate. As time progressed it was slabs of cheap fizzy lager for the dirt jumper mechanics. Then for the shop that no longer exists, where I was invited on the staff party as a customer, it was bottles of wine and whiskey – the E was for Ireland – the shop I raced for is sorely missed, the staff misplaced among bigger chain shops now.
Now, is no different. I made the trek, a bottle of craft beer and slice of cake for each member of staff in my bag, across the city to deliver my personal thank you grease. The grease that will allow me to borrow tools mid-ride when I forget mine, but am near the shop. The grease that will give me a chance to get a bike serviced quickly that is frankly f****d as I’ve treated it so badly but am racing tomorrow. The grease that, on the day of a race, while I’m bemoaning my lot, will push me out of the pits and tell me to MTFU.
There is no virtual grease for on-line shops. They don’t care. The grease is as real as the grease in your bearings. You either put it there yourself, build a relationship, or you deal with the shoddy workmanship and habits that come from online retail. Sure it’ll be cheap, but it’ll never be there for you when you need it.
So go grease your bike shop. There is always time for lube. No one likes a bike without grease.
Beer of the Week
Organic Chocolate Stout – Samuel Smith Brewery – 5% ABV
Brewed with well water (the original well, sunk in 1758, is still in use with the hard water drawn from 85 feet underground), the gently roasted organic chocolate malt and organic cocoa impart a delicious, smooth and creamy character, with inviting deep flavours and a delightful finish – this is the perfect marriage of satisfying stout and luxurious chocolate.
Christmas in a bottle. Chocolate, nuts, dark, warm. Luxury for your mouth. Just go and do it.