Beer and the art of bicycle maintenance
WORDS & PHOTOS BY GORDON ‘EVIL’ STOVIN
It’s cold out. It’s dark out. Bits of my bikes keep breaking. Bits of me are creaking. It’s that time of year when I start to get a bit fed up with winter and begin to wonder if I am losing my riding mojo.
Despite all of this, it’s a good time to keep on top of those pesky mechanical matters. Tyres that need swapping over, cables that need replacing, gears that need fettling, or performing things on hydraulic doodads that need whatever it is that hydraulic doodads need doing from time to time (such as taking to a proper bicycle mechanic).
The first thing to do before embarking upon any such endeavour is to get yourself a beer (props to Charlie the Bikemonger for this advice). Beer helps take the stress out of bicycle maintenance, provides an opportunity to stop and think about what it is you are trying to do. It’s also a bloody good incentive to go and fix your bike.
So let’s take our time and have a sipping beer. One that we can savour. A beer that will taste better as it warms up. A porter or stout. A beer for grimy hands.
Some jobs are easier than others, if not exactly fun to do. Cleaning drive chains and generally tidying up my bike cave fit this bill. My go-to porter for such tinkering is Millionaire by the Wild Beer Company. If you think all dark beers taste of burnt coffee then this salted caramel and chocolate milk stout is perfect for you. At 4.7% ABV it’s not too boozy or intimidating. It’s a great beer to drink whilst giving your bikes a once over with an oily rag.
PORTER NO. 6
For something a bit more involved, which for me this would include redoing handlebar tape, then a more contemplative brew is in order. Enter Porter No. 6 by Harbour Brewing. Harbour make some great pale ales and lighter beers, but they also have a range of darker numbers. This porter is the business and is well worth hunting out. But weighing in at 6.8% ABV, it requires a bit of respect and you’ll want to sip this one whilst wondering where you put those cable cutters.
Then there’s the bigger jobs. Mechanics that require watching ‘how to’ videos on YouTube. Repeatedly. Such activity inevitably involves measuring twice before cutting once. These are the things that you simply should not hurry. So it’s time to bring out the big guns with Ten FIDY by Oskar Blues. This is a big and brash beer, a strong imperial stout. In a can! Heresy you say? Well give it a go. There’s a boozy punch from the 10.5% ABV that this one is packing so you won’t want to rush into it. Much like rebuilding a wheel or, in my case, fitting full-length mudguards. Given the link between Oskar Blues and bicycles (they have their own bike company) you’d be inclined to believe that this beer was made for such occasions.
Here’s to bikes, beer and grimy hands.
Evil Gordon is employee 002 and one third of BeerBods.co.uk, an online beer club and subscription service. He also rides a Matt Chester fixed gear Ti gravel bike. Oddball.