2CB History Bike Clinic Lesson Trailer  Veteran 
Vet's Bike
Sep 18, 2021

Thursday morning I got a call from a number I did not recognize. I get those solicitor calls all day long, but also occasionally a call from someone seeking a bike or offering to donate one, so I answer them all. This was a live person, rather than one of those 20-second waits while the robocall software tries to connect the solicitor. He asked "do you sell bicycles?" I said no, but probed to learn what he was looking for, how he got my number. He had a blown out inner tube. He wanted to know where to get a tube, how much it would cost, and how much it would cost to have it installed. On further questioning I learned he is a resident at the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans, one of my client agencies, and had been given a bike with my label on it. I told him "in that case, you are one of my clients; you just didn't know it!"

I told him I was busy at the moment, but would come get the bike in the afternoon and fix it. I did so, opting not to do the tire repair there because I live only 10 minutes away and the job is easier in my garage. Plus I could check the bike for any issues and do a test ride and would not need to make him stay away if he was not a strict social distancer. The tube was indeed blown - a seam split about 6 inches long. My guess is someone filled it at a gas station or fire house and overfilled. It did not seem to be excessively worn from spoke nipples, the usual cause of weak spots that blow. And it was not due to a road hazard, because the split was on the inner side. So MWSHV gave it to someone when I fixed it for them this spring; the tire blew, and they hung it back up in the garage rather than call me; then some time later a caseworker or volunteer gave it to this guy unaware it was dysfunctional. Good for him for seeing my label and calling! This is the first time that has happened, out of well over 200 bikes I've given out. Kudos to my daughter for thinking of the labels and having them made for me when I first started this activity! I've gotten service calls, but from people who knew me and my contact info without the label and I've gotten a couple of lost/stolen bikes returned due to the label, but this was the exact intent and as she said when I told her about it "that one time justifies the whole label effort."

Note: I know he was not the original recipient because when I returned it and mentioned I had straightened the back wheel to stop that thumping from brake-dragging he said he had never ridden it. When I had him test ride he said he would need to regain his balance as he had not been on a bike in 40 years. He rode like a champ. I did not have my helmet supply in the truck but he replied that yes, he would wear it if I gave him one, so I will drop it off. He of course thanked me profusely, and I just said "Hey, I always want to help a vet.” He called today to tell me it would not shift. I suspected I knew the issue; went there to resolve it. When I refurbished that bike months ago, the left shifter I put on has a range of six positions - the bike has only two front sprockets. You have to go through several "clicks" to get it to shift. I explained that and checked it out for getting into all 12 gears, demonstrated difference between highest and lowest settings, suggested a midrange setting for around town on flat ground. I suspected on Thurs he could use that tutorial but he said he knew all about it so I didn't push. There is an adjustment to make to correct for that range issue, which I learned since doing that bike. I Sep 18, 2021did not get into it today because I didn't want to mess it up and spend more time standing in the driveway there. I gave him helmet and lights. I said something about using rustbuster on the working parts and he picked up on that, asked if it would clean the rust off his handlebars. He showed where he has been cleaning with brillo, getting the rust stain off and leaving gleaming chrome. He asked about the design, said it looked fancy, wondered how expensive it was new. Here's a photo of a near-same bike. 

Double-suspension red bike

He wanted to know about the little rubber things on the cables that keep them from rubbing the frame - where should they be positioned. I explained them & said position not all that important, but I like to line them up evenly. I did so and said "dress right, dress! It's pretty clear this bike is already a prized possession. I'll bring it home and tune it up better soon, but let him work on it for now. I'll give him tools to tinker with it as he learns more about it. If I can get him fixing other guy's bikes, all good! So, the lesson in this is what I say repeatedly "make someone's day; it will make yours." Also, "It's so easy to be a hero, do it!"