Opinion Columns & Blogs

Some days even YouTube can’t help

Let me say that I admire anyone who can take something apart and then put it back together and have it work normally. That’s just not me. My son-in-law can do it, but I cannot. I can put batteries in a flashlight, if I’m careful about which end goes where, but that’s about as far as I can go.

I got up to go ride the bike the other day and the rear tire was devoid of air. I knew I had to take it to the bike shop, but figured if I just took the tire it would make things easier. So I did the “smart” thing and went to the source on anything mechanical — and that would be YouTube.

On YouTube you can watch people who are gifted take off bike tires and put them back on in less than 30 seconds. The rear tire being the one that actually takes about 30 second with the front taking ten seconds or so. In fact some of these gifted people can take the tire off and have it inflated again in a couple of minutes. I even saw a woman do this with a man standing nearby giving emotional support. I suppose he thought she would have a meltdown if the thing didn’t expand the way it should. But I digress.

So, having watched the video, I’m convinced that taking off the rear tire can be done by a novice in no longer than 10 minutes. The rear tire is the one with the sprocket on it — those tiny teeth that have to work with something called a derailleur, and the derailleur has several jobs like keeping the tension on the chain and moving the chain from one sprocket to another. It looked like it could be complicated, but when I watched this YouTube woman do it, I thought it must be a a piece of cake. And in fact can be done by any moron — and this is where I come in.

I’m convinced I can take that rear tire off the bike, put it in the car and get it blown up at the bike shop. Then, return with the tire inflated and put it back on the bike, just like the YouTube woman and ride off into the sunset with a man not far behind, sans man of course. Bike shop guy fixed the flat in a jiffy and I’m back home with the bike upside down and ready for reassembly in the front yard with the temperature getting up there.

I go back to YouTube woman and watch her snap the rear tire back into place. Just a couple moves to lock that puppy in and bam, she and her 130 pound bloodhound are on their way in their stretch pants and bike helmets. I go back to the front yard and my bike will not have any of it. My hands are black with chain grease and my eyes are burning with sweat. Can't wipe them or I'd look like a raccoon.

Back to YouTube woman I go. By the third trip, with sweat dripping down my face onto the iPad, I’m developing a deep hatred for these two, especially the guy, who looks like Mr. G.Q., with his tight little tushy and a 150 I.Q. no doubt. My rear tire will no longer fit on the rear of my bike, plain and simple and I’m running out of bottled water. Giving up, I take the bike to the bike shop and ask the guy if I can watch while he puts the tire back on. “Sure,” he says and before I can get around the counter he’s snapped it back into place. “No charge” says he, with a look that says I’m the oldest idiot with whom he’s actually had contact. “Have a safe trip home and make sure you wear your helmet.”

Now I’m not one of those conspiracy theorists but something’s going on with the mechanical tools at my house. Mr. Blower decided to take the day off and the Weedwacker no longer feeds the spool to wack the weeds. YouTube might help, but I’ll need to take one of those small aspirins before attempting any repairs. Those of you approaching 70 know of what I speak.

Sonny Harmon is a professor emeritus at Georgia Military College. Visit his blog at http://sharmon09.blogspot.com.