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Rocky IX

Tyl had a traffic accident today. He was riding is bike - or rather his mother tried to make him ride his bike, under loud protest on his account - when he suddenly nose-dived towards the pavement. This is the result:

A couple of bruises on his forehead, a big nosebleed that took ages to stop because he kept rubbing his nose and a lip to make an elephant seal jealous. This picture was taken a couple of hours later, and he is smiling again (because of the camera flash), but after his little accident it took us ages to calm him down. He was really in shock, the poor little guy. It took several episodes of his favourite cartoon DVD (Hopla) and some cookies to calm him down.

And I don't think he will as much as look at that bike again for the next couple of weeks.

Walking Without Training Wheels

'There's a sale in the bike shop', Mrs.B anounced during lunch. 'We should go and look for a new bike for Wolf.'

She was right of course, the boy's current vehicle is a patched up second hand fixer upper his grandmother got him from the flea market. He's outgrown it, and since a couple of weeks it's also clear that he's ready to ditch the training wheels.

So we went to the bike store, and upon seeing the very first children's bike he saw - a bright yellow and red one with teddy bears on it, Wolf exlaimed 'I want this one'.

'Yes well, let's have a look at the other bikes first', I responded. We found another one he liked, but when he tried it we were still in doubt. It was ok, but it was a 16 inch (whatever that means) and it looked asif Wolf would outgrow it rather fast. However, the other bikes were 20 inches (tall? wide? wheel size?) and they were definitely too big. But then my eye fell on the yellow-and-read-teddy-bear-bike again, which seemed bigger than the one we'd selected, but then again not too big.

So we took it for a test drive. It had no training wheels, but that didn't stop Wolf. Within seconds, he was riding on his own, without daddy's assistance. Just like that, a milestone in my son's life.

Sold! We want this bike, and nothing else! The bike shop man took it away to set it up properly (fine tune the breaks and everything), which gave us the time to eat fries (yes, in Belgium you get complimentary fries when you go to a bike sales) and to try out the inflatable jumping castle (they sure know how to woe their future customers). Tyl liked the fries, but was a bit afraid of that inflatable monstrosity with the giant clowns head towering over it. So he stood in front of hit, looking at his big brother go and bounce from one side to the other. And then he let go of the bouncing castle, and stood on his own for a while. And then he took a step, and another one. Without training wheels!

I tell you, this bike shop is a place of miracles and wonder. Next time a kid of mine needs to get potty trained, I'm going there to buy something.

Bike on draw bridge

Bike on draw bridge

Bicycle Repair Man

It was rather nice and sunny last Saturday, so we decided to head for the big city and go by bike rather the car (parking tickets/costs!) or the bus (moving greenhouse). I decided to give my bike’s tires a refill of air, and while I was at it, I also resuscitated the tires of Mrs.B’s bike.

I’d just finished the last tire, when I heard an ominous ‘PSHSHSHshshshsh’. Within seconds, the front wheel tire was as flat as a slug on a test course for steamrollers. The tire had ripped where the valve is attached.

So we took the bus to go to the city. It was damn hot inside.

Not that this was so surprising, because the ruin on two wheels that serves as Mrs.B’s mode of transport only resembles a bike of you look at it from a great distance, with your eyes squinted, in the mist, and without your glasses if you wear any. Up close you’d only see a big pile of rust, worn down rubber and various bike parts that are crooked, broken and/or all together dysfunctional.

Yesterday Mrs.B handed me a new tire and asked me to change it. Taking out the round piece of smudge and grease that once was the wheel wasn’t that difficult, it was just very, very dirty. When I took the outer tire from the rim I noticed just how worn the rubber was, it was cracking everywhere. Luckily I didn’t tear it apart, and once it came off changing the inner tire was a work of minutes (once I’d finally found my bike tools that is).

After I’d put the wheel back, I took a good look at that old bike and decided to try and improve it, as far as that was still possible. I liberally drizzled oil on the chain, the wheel axles and the brakes. Now it moves like lightning but your bum slides off the saddle and your feet off the pedals. Then I removed the remnants of the gears and one of the two old bells that dangle on the handlebars. I might as well have taken off the other one, because it doesn’t work, but then an overzealous policeman/woman might stop my wife for driving without a bell and at least now it looks as if her bike has a functioning warning apparatus. I also reattached the front mudguard, although it really needs to be replaced because under the fork the attachment point rusted away and Mrs.B reattached it with a piece of string. So every time she drives over a cobblestone road, it sounds as if someone is rolling a container of crockery off a steep hill. At least they’ll hear her coming without needing a bell.

When I’d finished my work, I took it out for a spin and a noticed that instead of riding a slow heap of rust and dirt, my loved one can now ride a moderately fast heap of rust and dirt to work.

Not that is safe to ride it at any speed, because quite a lot of the oil came on the wheel and break pads, so you need at least five hundred metres to come to a full stop. If you don’t have a backwind, that is.

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