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  • Writer's pictureunkillbilly

I Can Ride My Bike with No Handlebars

I ride a bicycle.

That probably sounds like something really trivial…but to me, it's my primary means of transportation, as well as offering a workout routine that's easy to stay dedicated to. Including the cost of the bike, I may have spent $400 on the bike for repairs and maintenance over the six years I've owned it. It's a Specialized Rockhopper, so durable and reliable.

Four hundred bucks is about the amount of a monthly vehicle payment. And let me tell you, I am so glad when I think about not having a car payment. If I did have a $400 monthly payment, I'd be constantly broke. I could never have afforded to have my teeth treated this summer. And that's just the payment. Throw in fuel and insurance, the costs drift higher, consuming all disposable income…


The real cost, to me, is the costs associated with a breakdown.

I mean, there are few things in life that anger me more than being stranded by my car. When the damn thing breaks down (which for me was often on a freeway), it's always at the worst possible moment and likely to be prohibitively expensive to repair. For whatever dorky and deep-seated reasons, being stranded by my car invokes the worst feelings in me.


I ride a bike. I don't own a car. The last time my car stranded me was the last time I operated a vehicle. That was in 2012. Now, I have a variety of transportation options, between bus, rail, rideshare, bike or my Lamborfeeties. Never been happier. No more traffic. No more road rage.

No more car? No more negative feelings.

If you think the logic of the previous two sentences is impeccable…au contraire. Turns out I'm just as susceptible to those feelings if someone else's car strands me. That, as the boneman says, is a real dicky scratcher.

The most recent experience of bad vibes came about on the holiday. A friend had invited me to attend a very small gathering for a swim and some barbecue. Off we go, and, as we're rolling along in the HOV lane of the 202 Red Mountain Freeway—the compressor for the air conditioning blew.

Now, I'm not talking about some wheezy exit, the thing dying a slow but certain death. When I say blew…I mean blew up!

I first I thought we'd had the misfortune of driving over a piece of debris in the road. But no, I hadn't seen the giant plume of blue smoke the operator of the vehicle had seen in the rear view coincidental with the loud noise. I was voicing my opinion on the matter when there was a distinct explosion and then the apparent scattering of vehicle parts bouncin' off the bottom the car and the road. My contention that we'd run over something seemed unlikely given the explosive nature of the noises we'd just heard.

As quickly as possible, the driver steers to the side of the road and off a conveniently placed offramp. We get out and lift the hood.

At first, there wasn't anything particularly notable—if you don't know shit about engines. Lookin' at it for the first time, nothing seemed too wrong to me.

Then we noticed little metal shards lying about on a couple of surfaces. Then it became clear exactly what was missing.

The compressor for the air conditioner!

The entire housing was gone. There were pieces of metal, small pieces, lodged in a couple places around the engine. Clearly the rest of it had made its way out of the engine compartment after the powerful burst. The driver and I wondered what the impact of such an occurrence might be for further operation of the vehicle. We were miles from our destination.

Absent any mechanic's knowledge, we decided on a solution of trial and error. We'd try to make it the rest of the way on surface streets and hope it wasn't an error.

We made it the rest of the way without problems. Oh, and also without air conditioning. On a day when the mercury hit one hundred and fourteen degrees. We made it there…and all the way back home again. So, in the end, the failure was not catastrophic—for the car.

My peace of mind, on the other hand, was as ruptured as that compressor.

I mean, the whole time, my mind was filled with one word: see? That's all I could think about. See? Do you see how inconvenient it is for your vehicle to break down? Do you see how it disrupts your life? Do you see how no matter how reliable the car has been, it still has that capacity to phuck up everything? Do you see how this phucks up the vibration, man, see how it creates a whole negative vibe?

It's like my old pal Nassim Talib says: A thousand days won't prove you right; one day can prove you wrong.

I don't see how you do it, people. All you happy motorists. I don't see how you live…in the belly of the beast!

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