30 Degrees

I was downtown dropping-off a couple rolls of film at Jeremiah's when I decided to make a detour to Rubios. As far as I'm concerned, anytime is taco time. And my stomach was in empty agreement.

When I returned to the bike and unlocked it, I didn't notice anything amiss. But after a few petals, I felt something wrong. Dammit. The back tire was flat.

BTW: Why is it always the back tire that succumbs to bullhead thorns? Front tire: never flat. Complicated, gear-ladened back wheel: every time.

I looked-up the closest bike shop on my iPhone and walked beside my limping Cannondale to the shop.

"Do you have time to fix a flat while I wait?" I asked in a polite voice.

"Yes, of course."

"Great. I'll just hangout and browse while you work on it."

The technician who helped me was about 5'4" tall. We were truly an odd pairing. I wonder what he thought while he worked on this fully-extended XL bike frame?

After about 10 minutes he found me over in the accessory section and told me the tire was fixed.

"But I noticed that your handlebars seem out of alignment. Do you want to take a look?"

"Actually, I do. Been meaning to work on them."

He had me straddle the frame like I was ready to ride, then instructed me to put my hands on the bar as I normally would. He walked from one side to the other, taking mental snapshots of my riding position. I swear he was squinting one eye.

"This bike is a little small for you," he remarked.

"All bikes are a little small for me," I said with a smile.

"I have an idea that might help. Want to hear it?"

"I do."

"Your handlebars are too low in relationship to the seat. That puts stress on your hands and back. If I changed your handlebar stem to one that has a 30-degree angle upward, you would notice a big difference."

"Really? Just 30 degrees? Can you do that now?"

"I can."

"I'll go back to shopping."

Another 10 minutes passed and he walked the bike over to where I was standing.

"What do you think?"

"Wow. That looks good."

"Try it."

So I walked the bike outside and took it for a spin. What a difference. My hands and back were totally relaxed.

"I love this," I said as I rode back to him standing by the door.

"Yeah, it's good, isn't it."

When you think about it, that new stem was a relatively small adjustment. Just 30 degrees. No one would notice unless I pointed it out. "Hey, check out my new handlebar stem!" No measurable response. Of course. It just looks like a bike.

As I rode home, I was thinking about small adjustments. They really are important. Whether it's our photography, our job, our relationships, or yes, a bike with low handlebars, small adjustments can make a big difference. "I need to do more of this," I thought.

Speaking of which, we made one other small adjustment that day. My new intertube is puncture resistant and filled with green goo. Screw you, bullheads.

I think I'm going to like that change as well.