Last autumn someone knocked over my bike in the bike stand so that my front wheel ended up all twisted. I sighed and put the bike in storage over the winter. (I'm not heroic.) In April, as the new biking season beckoned, I decided I had to get the front wheel fixed. Orion, the always-been-there bikeshop nearby, had finally gone bankrupt. I located a bikeshop in Huddinge Centrum. It will have to remain nameless in this story, because I'm not sure if it has a name, it has no sign and everybody just refers to it as “that bikeshop in Huddinge Centrum”.
It looked good, lots of bikes inside and out and two guys of indeterminate age in grease-covered clothes fiddling with the bikes.
“Can you straightenout my wheel?”, quoth I.
“Hmm, I can try…”
“When will it be done?”
“In a week.”
I got a receipt with a number and everything. Next week I decided I'd call and see how it had gone. I only got their answering machine, which mentioned their “new opening hours now that autumn is here”… They had had posters with dire warnings about fines for unretrieved bikes and I was quite anxious that my wheel not incur extra expenses, so the day after I hurried to Huddinge.
“Hi, is my wheel done?”
“Yes, I left a front wheel here a week ago, number so-and-so.”
“Oh right, you'll have to check with Fred, he's the wheel man, but he's out somewhere right now. I'm sure he'll be back in a jiffy.”
I waited several jiffies, but nothing seemed to happen, and I had to leave. Next day I called, still the answering machine, so I had to get myself to Huddinge again.
Now Fred was in.
“Hi, is my wheel done? Front wheel, number so-and-so.”
“Oh that one, no, nothing doing, all broken.”
“Oh. So can I order a new wheel then?”
“Yeah sure, come by tomorrow, we're expecting new wheels.”
Actually I couldn't make it for a couple of days, but turned up somewhat later.
“Hi, do you have a new wheel for me?”
“No, we're waiting for a delivery, it should be here by tomorrow, come back then.”
Actually I let a week go by, just to be safe.
“Hi, do you have a new wheel for me?”
“No, we aren't getting any new wheels, it's these Chinese factories you see, everything is done in China these days. They have run out of metal, and what with the recession, they're not shipping, nobody's getting anything, no wheels anywhere, but come back tomorrow, maybe we'll have something then.”
This was not the ride I had been hoping for…
Eventually I gave up and decided I'd have to call around to all bikeshops to see if any of them might have a wheel for me. This week I finally got around to it and started with shops near work. Stockholm cykel & sportservice:
“Hi, I'm looking for a 26" front wheel, do you have one by any chance?”
“Yes, of course.”
Oh. Of course work stacked up, so I had to take a very brisk walk to get there five minutes to closing time.
“Hi, I called about the 26" front wheel. Oh, and I'll need a tyre and tube as well.”
“…and rim tape. Sure, just a sec.” picks down everything without even searching
“What's rim tape?”
“You put it on the inside so the spokes don't puncture the tube, I'll show you.” demonstrates
“Oh, I get it.”
I pay, rather more than I had expected, but it's been a while since I bought bike accessories last. I go home, assemble the wheel and then attach it to the bike. Something is wrong, the brakes don't fit, and it looks weird. Argh! I mismeasured, it should have been a 28" wheel!
I lug the assembled wheel back the next morning and after work I walk to the bikeshop.
I am received with a look of recognition.
“cough I mismeasured, I should have had a 28", is it possible to change?”
“Sure, no problem, those things happen. 28" you said, here we are. I only have one with a quicklock, can you handle it? I'll show you, like this.” demonstrates
I get an almost impossibly glossy wheel and all the rest. The shopkeeper makes to turn to the cash register, but then decides he won't bother about the price difference. I am for my part profusely grateful.
Home again. This wheel requires a bit of skill to assemble, but when I finally figure it out, it looks very good. I snap the quicklock and my bike is whole again!
I rush for my helmet and set out for a quick tour around the area. It feels so good and effortless. Always when I'm on the bike again after a long period without, I wonder how I managed.
Life can be so good sometimes!