Washing your bike

Washing a bike, like with water from a hose, is confounded in stupidity. Mention it to another rider and they’ll stare at you with their dead eyes.

“b-b-bearings…” will slowly stutter from their dry, cracked lips.

Mysticism at work, obviously. This reaction is usually from old cyclists who get their news from bicycling magazine and have yet to put more than a few thousand miles on any one bike before “upgrading” or new cyclists who don’t know anything but have read some shit on the internet.

Mention it to a younger, experienced rider and they’ll casually mention their power washer and team race stand. This is bike washing as a car. Lots of pressure, lots of soap, no intelligence.

I think part of this is that most people don’t get their bikes wet. Having never done an hour ride in the pounding rain they don’t understand the massive cleansing power of plain water, delivered at a reasonable velocity but never so high as to be mistaken for the exhaust from a fighter jet engine. A good rain ride will literally make your handlebar tape squeaky clean, it will wash away all your sweat. The undulating waves of grey will water your soul and remind you that life was once something other than the bullshit routines you’re forced to adopt to survive.

And the sound! Millions of individual drops of rain smashing into the earth as a dull roar. A monster around the corner, you know it’s there and the hackles are up. The world is muffled, everything becoming a indistinct white noise, creating a sharp focus. You know this sound, it’s the same sound you will hear when the blood is up. When you’re third in line coming on the bell lap, when you’re on the edge of death and hanging on for dear life as the group pounds up incline after incline. You’re sucking down fire with every breath, combusting into pedal stroke after pedal stroke. It will be over and you’ll be dead soon but for now, for now the sound is life and every second is an eternity, the value of which will never be understood by anyone else.

So no one gets their bikes wet anymore (ever?) so they don’t understand that all you need is a hose. Just spray your bike down from time to time. Don’t floss the cassette, that’s a waste of time. Don’t remove the chain, also a waste of time. Just spray everything with water until the obvious grime is gone. Do this before a ride. You can wash your bike, do a quick 5 mile loop back to home and everything will be dry. Then you can lubricate your chain and go for whatever regular ride you’re doing. Which will be rote and boring since it’s a sunny day with no racing.



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