April 4, 2000

i am completely unobservant.
I had noticed last weekend that it was damn near impossible to shift up into second...I could shift from neutral to first with no problem, but when I tried to upshift into second, it'd get to neutral and just sorta hang out there. No matter how much I tapped up on the lever, it wouldn't go out of neutral. I was worried that something horrifically expensive had happened to the transmission. So, I figured, what the hell, the bike needs a tune-up anyways (it had an oil change in '97 and new spark plugs in '98, but nothing since), so I dragged Peter out of work and made him go with me to the mechanic's.

Well, turns out that when I dropped the bike last week, it bent the shift lever in just enough that when I went to upshift, the lever hit the crankcase and wouldn't actually go up into gear. Huh. So, the mechanic was like, "well, we'll just bend it back out and hopefully it won't break off. If it does, well, we'll need to replace it" -- at this point, I began to hear the ca-CHING! of tiny cash registers in my head -- "but hopefully, we won't break it! ha ha!" "Ha ha," I said, petting the cat that hangs out at the bike shop.

So all it needed was a crowbar and a steady hand. :P
Moral: check everything out first before you make an ass of yourself at the mechanic's.

i pay the ignorance tax.
So after we figure out that I am completely unobservant (hey, but at least Peter didn't notice the bent lever either!), I talk to the guy about the tune-up. I spent about a half-hour last night going over the old service receipts that the orignal owner gave me, so I'd know the dates of the bike's last tune-up, what parts were replaced, and other data that would make me look smart and not like a big newbie idiot.

As it turned out, it didn't really matter. "Well, we'll just give it the mumblejumble inspection, and check out the floozer and the whatzit, and replace the sparkplugs, and --" hey! I knew about the sparkplugs! I read about that last night! "Well," I said, confidently, "are sparkplugs generally replaced by time, or by mileage?" "Usually mileage," the mechanic said. "Well, the plugs were replaced in October of 1998, and I know there wasn't any significant mileage put on the bike since then, and -- " "OK, well, we'll just replace the sparkplugs for you, then, since it's been a year and a half." "But I thought you just said that they were replaced by mileage; the bike's only had 3700 miles put on it since *1986*, I don't think those plugs are --" "Well, you wouldn't want to be on the freeway and have those plugs give out, now, and have that be the only part we didn't replace, and they're only $3 each!" "OK, well, see --" at this point, my brain said, jesus, carolyn, it's been a really long day. I can't believe you're pressing this. I said, "Yeah, OK, 3 bucks, whatever." Peter gives me the that 3 bucks is gonna cost you like a million dollars in labor costs look. I shrug and sign the paperwork.

$200. This tune-up and oil change is costing me two hundred dollars. This is 6.75% of what I spent on the entire bike. Peter spent the entire ride back to Apple comforting me that after this, I'll know the bike is in good shape, and I can keep learning about how to do the tune-up myself. He claims the bike shop charges less after you've been there a few times and have proven that you're learning about the bike and are not an idiot. "Oh, OK," said I. "I need to like pay the 'I'm-a-biker-no-really-I-am membership fee?" "Pretty much," said Peter. "I call it the ignorance tax."

So there we have it. I am now bike-less for at least the rest of the week (why does it take two hours and $60 to get my car tuned up, but my bike's out of commission for a week?). Grumblegrumble. I will use this time to read my Clymer's manual and learn how to avoid paying $200 for the next tune-up.

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