Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The hard facts.

With my wife's medical issues, I really need to get my old Ford Focus back up and running. We've essentially been a one-car family by virtue of one of our vehicles simply being out of commission. Last winter killed the battery, which was last replaced in the summer of 2004 - it's long past due. I could probably throw a battery into it and it would run. But it needs new tires for winter. The ones on it wouldn't handle snow. Once it warms up there's an entire litany of things that I really should get around to replacing. It's more than a decade old, now, with a little under 120,000 miles on the clock, which means I've driven it less than 1,000 miles since this time last year.

My wife went to a doctor's appointment today, only to be admitted to the hospital. Not just any hospital, but one of the furthest away from my office. I had to swing by the apartment first to pick up a few things my wife needed, and I'm no stranger to loading lots of stuff onto the bike. I loaded up and rolled out along my old commute route from 2007-2008. Man, I miss this route!

Visiting hours are over at 8:00 PM, and it's going to be a close call as it is, so I'm hammering away as fast as I can given the sub-freezing weather. At the bottom of the last and most arduous climb to get to the hospital, my right STI shift lever goes totally limp, followed by a ratcheting noise from my rear derailleur and a massive increase in resistance.

Yep. The shifter cable snapped clean off, and it ghost-shifted all the way to high-gear right as I was trying to make a climb. With all the cargo on The Twelve, I couldn't make it up the hill. Not even cross-chaining the triple crank, not even standing up. It was 8:00. I was at the bottom of Rainbow Boulevard, and I was going to perform... THE WALK OF SHAME.

Of course, I was basically turned away after handing over my wife's belongings. I got to see her for a few minutes, but only out in a lobby. I felt like I had failed her in the most basic way one human can fail another: by not being there for her when she needed me. Had the Focus been road-worthy, this wouldn't have been a big deal. Ride home, hop in the car, and drive to the hospital. Get there with an hour or more of visiting time. This is far from the first time that our single-car-ness has led to major inconveniences.

Sure, having my own functional vehicle may increase my temptation to drive on some days, and I will probably give in to that temptation once in a while. I'm not here to prove how hardcore I am. I just want people to know that if a fat computer nerd can bike commute in all four seasons, pretty much anyone can do it. That said, I think I see a little more driving in my immediate future. You know, as soon as I save up for a car battery and some cheap tires.


Sirrus Rider said...

Hope your Wife is OK! Prayers ongoing..

KaosCreator said...

My prayers go out for you and your wife.

rorowe said...

I second Sirrus' comment and understand your realization that, for the moment, cars are still necessary for most people. I've thought about going car-free a number of times (pretty much anytime my old Saturn needs some expensive repair or maintenance, tires included), but haven't been able to because of situations similar to your's. (currently, I've been off-bike because of a knee/ankle injury. Without a car, I wouldn't be able to get to work!)
Hope all is well, Noah.

Apertome said...

I hope your wife's health improves. So sorry to hear she's back in the hospital.

Nothing wrong with needing the car. We are a one-car family, and make it work, mainly because I ride every day. But we've been fortunate, and haven't had to deal with too many situations like that.

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