Tinkering (2)

Today, the Madone ran silently. No chain noise, no clicks, creaks or squeaks; just the hollow thrum of hard tyres, alloy rims, and bladed spokes slicing-and-dicing the cold air. It’s a state of grace, Nirvana, something I’m always striving for. But it’s not easy to attain. The intermittent, untraceable yet irritating mechanical sound-out-of-place  is the bane of every cyclist’s life. Most are so tiny no-one else would even notice it. But just as any parent instantly knows when their child is poorly, a rider instantly detects the smallest change in how the machine sounds and feels.

Of course bikes know this, and their symptoms usually vanish as soon they enter the workshop, in the same way children miraculously rally the moment you step into the doctor’s surgery.  Sometimes, though, a mechanical gremlin can evade months of seek-and-destroy missions; the cost in time, bike-shop bills and frustration can be enormous.

I find any unexplained or unidentified ‘mechanical’ deeply unsettling; it shakes my confidence in the bike and thus everything else, including myself. I become preoccupied and irritable (OK, more preoccupied and irritable); I’m restless, nervous and feel slightly queasy until it’s resolved. An unhealthy obsession?  The dark side  of a perfectionist nature? A hint of some deeper insecurity? Probably all of the above. That’s why today’s silent running was so good. And why I wrote this.


My world revolves

on a pair of hubs,

its axis marked

by a silver chain.

My uneasy mind

is held secure

by bolts

wound down tight,

snug in smooth

machine-milled metal.

The mystery creak




groundless grinding

are betrayals:


to be hunted down

and permanently



4 thoughts on “Tinkering (2)

    • Thank you for your comment – like you, I’m a big fan of villanelles, rondeaus (or should that be rondeaux?) and other traditional forms. I’ll post a couple on gonecycling; I’d love to hear what you think!

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