Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Stress relief in the garage

Things are not going well at work. From a distance you would think that climbing the greasy management pole would give you more freedom. Maybe it does if you are prepared to act like a cunt. But in my experience, if you try to approach it with a modicum of decency it just buys you entry into a world of responsibilities, worries and guilt. And then more guilt that you’re feeling that way when so many others are worse off than you.

In such circumstances, and especially with one eye on my blood pressure these days, I try to find ways of managing the stress.

Over the years my number one option for this has always been my martial arts. Not so much in the sense that it is an outlet for aggression. Because it isn’t really – anyone with the slightest knowledge will tell you that to fight angry is a fatal. My teacher used to always say when we were playing chi-sau ‘the one who gets pissed off first loses’. Martial arts works for me much the same way as sitting by a lake with a fishing rod works for some guys or building model train sets does for others – you lose yourself in something for a few hours.

Much as I love all things bike-related, previously doing any sort of work on them was more often a cause of stress than stress-relief.

I’m no more or less mechanical than the next guy but my undoing was always impatience. Made far worse by frustration that every mechanical set back was keeping me without a bike and off the road – which for me is like a junkie being denied his drug of choice. At one time I had a collection of punched-in petrol tanks, and an exhaust muffler flattened to a pancake in a Basil Fawlty moment of rage, to testify to this frustration.

Now I have two bikes all this pressure has gone.

All of which is a preamble to saying that after another shitty day at work I found myself in the garage last night actually enjoying working on the bike. I swapped the 70’s style buck-horns for a set of low bars. I re-routed the wiring and cables, and I fitted a braided brake line. All done in about an hour. I then spent another hour last night and yet another half hour this morning trying to bleed the fucking system. But that's two and a half hours absolutely business-bullshit free. And I’ve still got to pop out from work at some point to get another bottle of DOT5. Perversely for once I am actually relishing the hassle.

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