Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fare HIkes and Flat Tires

I got a flat yesterday, which really sucked!  I was still pretty far from the train station, so I had a good walk ahead of me.  Riding the train always reminds me why I bike to work--slow, crowded rides are no way to start the day.  You will not meet your fellow humans at their best in this way.  This morning, watching the news, I saw that the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) board plans to raise rates as planned regardless of public outrage, or the fact that they will have a deficit next year as well.  I was inspired to fix my flat (patch the tube) and change my tire as well, which I accomplished while drinking my coffee and eating my breakfast in under a half hour.  This evening I'll do the other tire.  I replaced the old Kenda tires with Panaracer Pasela tires, and I like them.  They've got a good tread to them. 

This process got me thinking of a few things.  First, it deepened my attachment to my the bicycle.  I've often wondered whether I should just pass the bike on.  Even though I act like I don't care, I am a bit self-conscious of the fact that I am riding a ladies bicycle.  Also, it is a bit small for me, however, with a few adjustments it serves well.  I am considering adding a different stem, which raises the height of the handlebar perhaps an inch, maybe an inch and a half and extend my reach by about as much as well.  I already have a longer seat tube.  I've got a wrap for the handlebars and now new tires just about clinches it--the bike can stay.  In fact, I think I'll dub her "Victoria."  I always liked the name.  It's feminine, yet strong--it means victory. 

This led me to consider my efforts at keeping my life simple, which I find both convenient and cost-effective.  Here a bike that was written off and sold for thirty bucks, has gained a whole new life of usefulness several decades post-manufacture I might add.  I maintain her for a minimum of cost by using my own labor and using non-specific products like the same lithium grease I would use for automobile ball bearings.  I am careful to keep my debt contained and reasonable.  These days many Americans are doing the same, yet the MTA is not.  It is probably not alone, but today I am concerned only with the MTA.  There is no plan for addressing recurring deficits.  The usual response is to lay it on the workers, but it is evident that that is not the main problem.  The problem is borrowing.  The MTA has borrowed a lot of money, which makes no sense to me, but then all of government, from top to bottom, has borrowed too much.  The time to pay the piper has come and the question is, "Who is going to pay?"  Trying to get it from the riders is only going to go so far, and getting it from the workers is not a long-term strategy either.  Looks like the MTA is going to need "a check-up from the neck up" and real soon too!


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