Sunday, March 29, 2009

Am I Smart Enough to Own a Bike?!

For several years I’ve transported my bike, laid on its side, inside my car, but then the chain kept coming off almost every time I loaded and unloaded the bike, so I decided this year to get a bike rack. My original thought was to get a new car that came with the manufacturer’s bike rack, but the diminishing state of my retirement fund squelched that idea. So, instead, I bought an ordinary rack that holds two bikes and attached to the back of my car.

The salesman’s brief explanation of how to install it seemed simple enough. When I opened the box and started to read the written instructions, however, the task seemed much more complicated. First, I had to read the special footnotes that applied to my car. Then I had to adjust the rack so the upper and lower frames would be the required 11 inches apart. After several attempts, I correctly pushed/pulled the knobs that released the frames and maneuvered them into place. Then I positioned the rack on my car and adjusted the top straps. The trick to tightening the straps, I discovered, was to press the little metal lever that said “press” before trying to pull the strap. Next I affixed the bottom and side straps, which required several, hard tugs. (At last, a practical application of strength training!)

Now I was ready to put my bike on the rack. Lifting the bike on went pretty well (another advantage of strength training), but the stabilizer piece didn’t fit around the bike stem right. Studying the diagram in the instructions again, I figured out I’d put the bike on the rack backwards – the chain side wasn’t supposed to be facing the car. So I took the bike off, turned it around, and lifted it back on. This time all the parts fit properly, the bike seemed to be snugly in place, and the rack didn’t fall off the car. Of course, I haven’t driven anywhere yet with the bike on the rack, but I hope it will work as well on the road as it did in my garage.

After my struggle with the rack, I figured my next bike project – attaching a small bag behind the seat – would be a snap. Well, …. I could see from the picture on the tag how it was supposed to go, but I couldn’t figure out how to place the straps to accomplish that result. There were no instructions for installation, so I tried up, down, and backwards, without success. I was about to resort to duct tape when, suddenly, I knew exactly how to do it, and the result looked just like the picture.

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