Why Bikes Like Beer, Volume 2, Issue 1: Bringing Home Baby (bike)

Congratulations! Your bike chose you! You’ve forked over the big bucks and have entered into a relationship with a new bike. Hopefully you’ve lavished some bling upon your new steed at the shop (this is important – your bike chose you, and you must present it with a new toy. Even a bottle cage helps, although that alone kind of screams “cheap, stingy bastard.”) It’s time to bring your bike home.

If this is your first bike, or if you parted ways with your previous bike and are bringing your bike to your sad, drafty, bikeless cavern of a home, you’ve got it relatively easy. You and your new bike can go crazy all over the house. You can eat your oatmeal or Captain Crunch or omelette while it leans with you against the kitchen table. You can ride it up and down the driveway in your underpants. You can even bring it to bed with you (although I don’t recommend this – if your bike rolls over on you in the middle of the night, it will inevitably land chainring-side-down, and that really hurts). You and your bike can get all gooey and mushy 24/7.

However, if your newbie is joining your family of existing bikes, you’ll have to engineer quite a bit more finesse when you roll it through your front door. If you bring home a new bike, and spend all day googling over it, ignoring your first-riddens like they are, in the words of Morris Moss, “yesterday’s jam,” disaster WILL ensue.  Your tried-and-true two-wheeled beauties are going to get jealous (and rightfully so!), and they shall get their revenge.

Revenge takes many forms. Bikes are not above self-destruction if it means getting back at you. I once had my tri bike stab its rear tire with a staple the night before a race because I drove 3 hours to fetch my new mountain bike, rode it three days in a row, and even spent an hour cleaning him the day before I was to race my tri bike. Lucky for me my tri bike still loves me enough that it allowed me to get the tire off the rim and change the tube in time to race, but not before making me sweat bullets and run like a fool dodging children and the elderly.

At worst, your bikes will continuously shower the newbie with wedgies (that chain didn’t come off by itself, my friend), grease marks, creaky seatposts, and a general feeling of shame and inadequacy. And your new bike, the one that chose you, will have second thoughts. After all, would you want to live with the carbon-fiber equivalent of the Heathers? Obviously, a sad bike will not be a fun bike to ride. It might even be scared to ride, because it knows what it’ll receive from the other bikes. It might even force you to ride for up to 8 hours at a time, uphill in the snow, through dog poo and thumbtacks, just so it won’t have to go home. Sound fun to you? Yeah, me neither.

You must not let this happen.

Bikes are like cats. What’s the first thing you do when you bring home a wee cuddly ball of snuggles to a home where old grumpy is waiting for his liver and chicken pate? You get the softball-sized furburger situated in a quiet room, set her out a litter  box, food, water, and a place to sleep and then you immediately close her in there and go love on grumpy, telling him he’s the best kitty-cat EVAH! and giving him whatever the hell he wants, and letting him stay on your lap for hours even if it means peeing yourself. (well, not literally, but almost).  YOU MUST DO THE SAME WITH YOUR NEW BIKE!!!!

Bring him/her/it into the house, briefly introduce him/her/it to your other bike(s), and then take your old bike out for a ride as soon as possible. This ride will not only reassure your bike that you are not replacing it/her/him, but it also will allow this bike to ask you questions about its shiny new brother and allow you to tell it how much you still love it.

Treat your bike(s) all with the respect they deserve, and your fleet will naturally adapt to a new rolling order. Not to the tune of kum-bah-yah, but maybe to the tunes of Built to Spill or some other cool band like that. Once this happens, you must recognize and obey their system. How? Identify the alpha bike.

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