Bike people are weird. When I lived in Santa Cruz, I knew a lot of them. They would ride their bikes to work every day, rain or shine. They loved to talk about how they were personally responsible for improving air quality in the community. They insisted they had a great time commuting, and that shit-eating grin on their faces when theyâ€™d get to work suggested they were probably telling the truth.
But whatâ€™s so great about bikes? I mean, sure theyâ€™re non-polluting, donâ€™t need gas, benefit the health of the rider, alleviate automotive traffic and are faster than walking, but at some point theyâ€™re going to break down. And then youâ€™re faced with the daunting task of either bringing it to a repair shop (where the mechanicâ€™s going to know that simply because youâ€™re in his shop, you have no idea what is wrong with your own bike, and he can, therefore, charge you whatever he wants) or trying to repair it yourself.
In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert M. Pirsig singled out motorcycles as the one true vehicle in which performing maintenance could be likened to achieving eternal enlightenment. Anyone whoâ€™s ever worked on his own bicycle knows differently. In truth, maintenance of any vehicle, be it motorized or human-propelled, can produce a state of mind so un-Zen-like in most people that itâ€™s difficult to believe anyone could enjoy it. But there are some lovable nuts among us who not only love working on bikes but also love to donate their time, tools and expertise (on a first-come, first-served basis) to those who fall into the other larger percentage of the population. The Bicycle Tree serves as a bike-repair clinic in which riders of all ages are welcome and volunteers are on-hand to offer advice for free. Just be careful of your fingers when youâ€™re wedging the baseball card into your spokes.