do you remember

When we first met?

Oh, or that Gnarlube video that I loved so much?

Well, only vaguely related to that video* and because I am looking to “let go” of a bike** soon, and somewhat obliquely in support of International Women’s Day – I cleaned my bike. Well, partially cleaned it, or at least started the process of doing so. Recently Jana went through a rather painful makeover. Some bits on, some bits off. What remained was a frame and some wheels, assorted silver bits and a residual sense that – although I have loved riding my bike, I haven’t always taken the best care of it.

This is not the case for all women, and sometimes it is the case for men, however, as a dolls not lego kind of little girl, I sometimes feel like I missed out on an essential element of technical adventurousness which is, ultimately, a rather gendered experience. What I mean is, if girls theoretically look like this lubing their chain, how is your average female rider meant to get into the reality of this.

Well, obviously, it’s not that hard. You just get a silent partner and then get your hands dirty.

Mo was less help that she even looks like she was being, but I have to say the act of taking it apart, and then cleaning it and then applying various tinctures and pastes was pretty similar to every crafternoon I ever attended: sure, I was theoretically into it, but then I rapidly bored when I realised how much Attention to Detail was required, then, after a few drinks I settled right back down and realised that there was a lot of peaceful beauty to what goes where. I also realised that you should pay attention when someone tells you to pay attention to the order that the washers go. That commercial radio harms you and those around you, just as water clearly harms your frame. That cream bikes, like white t-shirts, are guaranteed to collect a few stains along the way.

And that I really really really loved this bike. It’s not the best bike, it’s not the most expensive bike, it’s not the perfect bike, but it’s been my bike.

I’m sorry I never cleaned you properly before Jana.

I wonder, am I the only irresponsible bike owner out there? Or are you out there busily cleaning your bikes like a diligent soul? I’m just going to assume that you don’t do it scantily clad or in a sparkly g-string. Please do not send me photos if you do.

Just come talk to me.

* Because I feel like giving ever more air time to the world’s lamest advertisement is a waste of time.

*As anticipated, I am in a high state of pre-grieving over this one.

By Eleanor Jackson

Eleanor Jackson is a Filipino Australian poet, performer, arts producer, cyclist, writer, gal about town, feminist, freewheeler, and friend.

1 comment

  1. Yes, although I am a sporadic bike cleaner, it is one of the ancillary things about bike-riding that I have come to really enjoy. It’s best if its a weekend afternoon when you have plenty of time. Some tunes or a good podcast on your iThing are a must (just discovered 99% Invisible, have you listened to that? It’s really great).

    And the slow steady process by which you make your bike look like new again, while (for me anyway) transferring all that dirt & grease onto your own person. That’s kinda magic.

    And I do remember when we first met. I believe it was during Bike Week.

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